Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu -
Scanner Installed at Chiang Mai Airport

Three major aviation gateways have installed thermoscanners to screen foreign passengers for swine flu.Three infrared sensors are now in use at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, one in
Chiang Mai and another in Phuket.

Travellers found with suspicious flu symptoms that could develop into the swine influenza will be asked to undergo treatment at the staterun Bamras Naradoon Hospital in Nonthaburi, Phaijit Warachit, deputy permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry, said yesterday.

Thailand has five such devices at its disposal. They beep upon detecting anyone passing the scanner gates with a body temperature above 37 degrees Celsius, which is standard for humans.

Each unit comprises an infrared thermal camera, a processor and a monitor to show the results of readings.

Since each gate can scan large groups at a time - not just people in a row - passenger flow should go smoothly at arrival lounges in those airports, said Lilit Sirisapjanant, a public health official stationed at Suvarnabhumi.

Source: The Nation 28-04-09

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Best Ways
of Accessing Cash in Thailand

One of the most often asked questions across the several travel forums I participate in is:

"what are the best ways of accessing cash whilst in Thailand?".

This is a huge & very complex question, when you consider the wide range of countries whose nationals visit Thailand each year !!.

What I will aim to do is to give you an "international" overview of the most popular methods, which will hopefully give you a good insight, from which you can then check what the particular costs & requirements are for your own country.

Please Click Here to read the full article:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Visit to The Tiger Kingdom
- Chiang Mai

The Tiger Kingdom,one of Chiang Mai's latest tourist attractions opened its doors for business just under a year ago. The "kingdom" is located on the Maesa road just outside Mae Rim approximately 18kms (11miles) from Chiang Mai and takes around 20-30 minutes by Taxi to get there.

The Tiger Kingdom is one of only two such ventures in the whole of Thailand that allows the visitor an "up close & personal" experience with the tigers, allowing them to play, stroke & take photos in the tigers ACTUAL ENCLOSURE !!.

Please CLICK HERE for the full article.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How to Make the Train Journey
from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

How do I catch a train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai?
If you want an economical way of travelling between Bangkok & Chiang Mai, Thailand's trains are both an economical and comfortable way to make the journey. They also give you an opportunity to see the stunning Thai countryside particularly as you wind your way up into the mountainous Northern Thailand area.

Its also an ideal way of meeting new friends, as this journey is wonderful as an "ice breaker".The trains are also considerably safer than the buses,cheaper than flying, and the most stylish way to getting to your destination - Chiang Mai !.

For longer routes, try the overnight sleeper train. This saves time by traveling as you sleep, and money by skipping a night's hotel fee.

There are a few people who prefer the day train journeys, not wanting to miss a single km of countryside. But,a little scenery goes a long way, and those few hours gazing outside before and after the beds are made up are enough for all but the most hard-core window watchers.

Please click here to read the Full Article .

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Love Affair With Thailand !!

I started my love affair with Thai food several years before I had even visited the Kingdom of Thailand. My first experience was a very early Marks & Spencer Thai Green Chicken Curry back in the late 1980's, after which it became my "TV dinner" of choice !!.

It was also around that same time that I started regularly frequenting the local Thai restaurant, which was as you would expect a much more sophisticated affair than the ready-meal, and of course I believed that it was a true reflection of "real Thai food", how wrong I was !.

And then in 1998 I went on my first holiday to Thailand ,and was shocked at just how much better the authentic Thai food was, whether it was freshly cooked by a street vendor, roadside palm-leafed covered "shack", or at a swanky hotel restaurant the attack on my taste-buds was just incredible !!.

To read the full article please Click Here .

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thailand's Seven Deadly Days - Final Figures

A total of 373 people were killed and more than 4,000 injured in road accidents nationwide during the seven-day Songkran festival, which ended on Thursday.

Interior permanent secretary Wichai Srikwan said 3,977 road accidents across the country were recorded between April 10-16 - the seven-day period considered dangerous for road users during the Songkran holidays. That was 266 fewer accidents than last year.

Mr Wichai said fatalities have risen to 373, five more than last year, while 4,332 people were injured, 471 less than the previous year.

During the seven-day period, Chiang Rai recorded the highest number of accidents (145) as well as the highest number of injuries (164) while Chiang Mai recorded the most deaths (14).

In seven provinces, no fatalities from road accidents were recorded - Trat, Chachoengsao, Yasothon, Amnat Charoen, Sakon Nakhon, Nan, and Yala.

On Thursday alone, the last day of the period, 343 road accidents were recorded, and 52 deaths. Suphan Buri had the highest number of accidents (13).

The main causes of accidents were driving under the influence of alcohol and speeding, and over 80% of all accidents involved motorcycles. !!.

Source: The Bangkok Post 20th April 2009

Thai Tourism Scores - Own Goal !!

When the helicopters evacuating national leaders from the Asean summit disappeared over the Pattaya horizon, the hopes of the ailing Thai tourism industry for a speedy recovery disappeared with them.

With a sense of deja vu, business leaders in the tourism sector found themselves back on their knees contemplating a fresh price tag of 100 billion baht in lost sales because the red shirts had staged a week of anarchy.

It could hardly have been much worse. The prime ministers and presidents who were whisked away in the emergency evacuation are in charge of countries which provide 8.5 million tourists to the kingdom a year, or 60% of the annual target.

How many of their citizens will ask what sort of security they, as individual tourists, can expect in Thailand when its security forces cannot even protect national leaders? This question is going to become a familiar one and credible answers are needed.

Predictably, the most sensitive markets have been the first to react. The initial wave of cancellations, numbering 10,000, came from China and Hong Kong. Chiang Mai ,normally packed over Songkran, saw hotel bookings drop below 60%.

This is an industry that suffered immense damage as a result of the occupation of the capital's airports last November by the yellow shirts of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD). The action stranded tens of thousands of tourists and businessmen, scared away others and eroded investment confidence.

Recovery was expected to take six to nine months if all went well. It did not. Instead, potential visitors found their newspapers, TV and computer screens displaying pictures from Bangkok of buses being torched, a gas tanker loaded with eight tonnes of LPG positioned so it could be used as a terrible weapon and soldiers brandishing automatic rifles and confronting mobs.Now comes the attempt on the life of PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul and the repercussions that could ensue.

None of this bodes well for inbound tourism which is already competing in a diminished global market. The worldwide recession has put people out of work and placed overseas holidays beyond the reach of many families.

Those who can afford to travel will be selective and not in a mood to take risks. The tourism industry's biggest headache is uncertainty. Right now, everything is calm, at least on the surface, because the Abhisit government has done an exemplary job of restoring order. But the nation's capital has spent the past week under a state of emergency, backed by armed soldiers positioned in public areas. This has done little to inspire confidence among visitors.

But not all is gloom and doom. The government has fast-tracked an initiative to invest about 6.6 billion baht in tourism projects over the next three years as part of efforts to rebuild the tourism industry. That ambitious package is separate from 10.23 billion baht in tourism-related infrastructure spending, planned for the same period.

It includes 75 million baht to restore foreign visitor confidence and increase safety measures in tourism spots and 325 million baht to convince foreign visitors to travel to Thailand both for business and leisure. Much of the rest is to be sure they have a greater variety of attractions.

If the revised, dismal forecast for this year does prove to be accurate, at least the respite would allow time for our natural resources to recuperate. Mass tourism has not been kind to our coastlines, coral, parks, villages and ways of life.

Nature could certainly benefit from a rest!.

Source: Bangkok Post 20th April 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Songkran Celebrations Take Their Toll !

The number of people killed on Thailand's roads during the first six days of the seven-day Songkran festival has risen to 321 with 3,961 people injured, a senior Interior Ministry official said.

Anucha Mokkhaves, chief of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, said 3,634 road accidents had occurred nationwide from April 10 to 15, 321 fewer than for the same period last year. The fatalities were three less than last year at this stage of the holiday break.

On Wednesday, there were 528 accidents, leaving 49 dead and 586 injured.

Chiang Mai recorded the most fatalities with 13 driving-related deaths during the six-day period and Chiang Rai had the most accidents with 137 over the period.

There were eight provinces in which no fatalities from road accidents had been recorded so far - Trat, Chachoengsao, Yasothon, Amnat Charoen, Sakon Nakhon, Nan, Pattani and Yala.

Mr Anucha said the major causes of the accidents were driving under the influence of alcohol and speeding, and that most accidents involved motorcycles.

Police and civil servants manning checkpoints on highways and roads were required to work late on Wednesday night as Songkran revellers began to drift back to the capital from upcountry even though the government declared yesterday and today as additional public holidays.

Source: Bangkok Post - 17th April 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bangkok "Red Shirts" Give up the Fight !

Tourists travelling around Thailand are continuing to enjoy their holidays despite street clashes in the capital Bangkok and general anti-government tensions.

Street battles in the capital over the last few days have left two people dead and more than 150 injured.

One U.K. tourist speaking from Bangkok yesterday said, "you would not have even known that anything was happening. Life appears to be quite normal. You can see a few soldiers blocking off roads so tourists can't go in but there is still plenty of access. The only areas blocked off are the main Government areas, which doesn’t really affect tourists at all."

Adding that yesterday was a national public holiday for the Songkran Water Festival, so there were lots of people in the streets enjoying themselves all over Bangkok.

Another visitor Julie Green also from the U.K. arrived early Monday morning and said that when they drove from Bangkok Airport to the hotel there were a lot of armed police and barricades which was a little scary, but that having checked into the hotel and gone exploring the city, they had not seen any problems, just a heavy military prescence.

They plan to head back to Bangkok on Sunday after a few days on Koh Samui and are not put off by the situation at all. They have registered with British Embassy in Bangkok and are receiving regular updates.

Officially, the British Government along with several other nations have made statements that there is a "high risk" to security in Thailand and therefore advise against all tourist and non-essential travel to Bangkok and nearby provinces.

Last night(Tuesday), many of the protesters were beginning to disband and leave the site of the final protests outside Government House.

In the face of an overwhelming army presence, the organisers agreed to disperse in a victory for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who had appeared on the verge of losing his hold on power after just four months in the job.

"All of my brothers and sisters, please give up and board these buses provided by police," top protest leader Veera Musikapong said, clambering on to a police truck to address the crowd.

"Police will take good care of you," he said as the demoralised crowd stripped off the red shirts that have symbolised their campaign for the return of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

But as thousands of weary protesters started heading home, a large proportion of them from the country's northeast which is the heartland of Thaksin's support, others defiantly said their campaign to dislodge Abhisit would continue.

"We have stopped the protest but we haven't stopped the fight for democracy. We will continue the movement," said staunch Thaksin ally Nattawut Saikuar.

Police and the army said that protesters not involved in Monday's street violence would be allowed to return home but that "hardcore" figures were being detained, with protest leaders facing imminent arrest.

The government had said it wanted a peaceful end to the crisis, after troops on Monday used tear gas and automatic weapons fire to clear protesters from the rest of Bangkok, which remains under a state of emergency.

As dawn broke yesterday, hundreds of soldiers brandishing assault rifles and riot shields advanced upon Government House, and armoured personnel carriers and other vehicles blocked off all access points.

The military used loudspeakers mounted on trucks to issue further warnings to disperse or face the consequences.

The number of protesters at the site fell to about 2,500 on Monday night as the pressure mounted on Thaksin's so-called "Red Shirts" after hours of running battles in sweltering heat the day before.

Army spokesman Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd said troops had also suppressed protests in three provinces including Chiang Mai on Monday, during which protesters took control of a television station and a railway terminal.

Mr Abhisit has hailed the success of the military campaign to dislodge the protesters, amid fears of a repeat of the violence in Bangkok last October in which two people died and 500 were injured.

He has been under immense pressure to end the crisis quickly to prevent further damage to both Thailand's international image & it’s tourism industry which relies heavily on worldwide visitors .

Monday, April 13, 2009

Shall I wear Red Shirt or
Yellow in Thailand Today ?.

Tourists currently visiting Thailand need to show caution in their clothing colour selection, as currently this is identified as showing support to one of several different political groups.

The two main conflicting groups are the Yellow Shirts and Red Shirts. The Yellow Shirts belong to the People’s Alliance for Democracy. The Red Shirts are supporters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship. The Yellow Shirts are consistent critics of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted from power in the 2006 coup. Most of the Red Shirts are supporters of Thaksin.

The Yellow Shirts adopted the color yellow as their protest color in honor of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the most revered figure in Thailand today. But it doesn’t mean the Red Shirts are opposed to the King. It also doesn’t mean that they are leftists. They adopted the color red just to differentiate themselves from the Yellow Shirts.

The Yellow Shirts accused two Prime Ministers last year of being puppets of Thaksin. To force change in government, the Yellow Shirts organized provocative street actions last August. They occupied the Government House for several months. They shut down Bangkok Airports last December which crippled travel in the country. The Yellow Shirts agreed to end their protests when a court order disqualified allies of Thaksin from running for public office again.

A few days after the Yellow Shirts declared victory, the Red Shirts began to organize their own street actions. They also occupied the Government House a few weeks ago. They were able to gather tens of thousands of protesters in Bangkok. They were supported by taxi drivers who used their cars to block traffic in Victory Monument, a busy intersection in Bangkok. The Red Shirts succeeded in forcing the cancellation of the ASEAN Summit in Pattaya which embarrassed incumbent Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. There is now a state of emergency in Bangkok, but the Red Shirts are defiant.

The Yellow Shirts got what they wanted by causing chaos and closing the national airport so the Reds (significantly made up of a strong presence outside of Bangkok) took this marker and went for the heart of the capital - closing roads and massively inconveniencing the city.

Who are the Red Shirts? What do they want?. There are various reports coming out that many Red Shirts are individually well-off, driving their own cars and living in and around the capital. Their demands are for a real democracy and a rooting out of the unelected elements that frequently interfere with the political process. However, they are not interested in a return of Thaksin and do not swear allegiance to him. The Red Shirts can no longer be abused and ridiculed as a monolith of “poor uneducated Thaksin stooges”, as was previously the norm in certain media quarters.

The Yellow Shirts are not active today. But the Red Shirts are being confronted by a different set of “colored” protesters: The Blue Shirts.

The Blue Shirts emerged when the Red Shirts began to mount a serious challenge to the government. First, they said they only wanted to protect public utilities, like the airport. But the Red Shirts soon accused them as being thugs hired by the government. Nirmal Ghosh writes about the confrontation between the Blue Shirts and Red Shirts which may shed light about the real leaders of the Blue Shirts.

In the early morning they (Red Shirts) began marching up the hill to the Royal Cliff Resort, venue of the summit, but came face to face with a few hundred of the pro-government militia, well organized with freshly printed dark blue T-shirts saying ‘Protect the Institution' – institution being the a reference to the monarchy.

All the blue shirts were armed with sticks, clubs and iron rods.The face-offs occurred at two locations, each with around 1,000 red shirts against about 150 blue shirts. The men in blue held pictures of the king and queen.

The blue shirted men – clearly a militia – essentially took shelter behind the army, whose officers made no attempt to disarm them.According to two sources, the blue shirts had been organized by the mayor of Pattaya, who is the son of ‘Kamnan Poh' – a controversial strongman of the province.

What are the reactions of Thai residents who are not directly involved in the political crisis? When the Red Shirts were leaving the ASEAN Summit venue in Pattaya, a group of people wearing black shirts began throwing stones at them. Who are they?

There is another option for Thais: wear pink. The Pink Shirts want a political formation based on love. Pop singer Jintara has a music video for the song ‘Mop see chom-poo' which preaches the doctrine of the Pink Shirts.

Indeed, the situation is becoming more and more unpredictable. The red shirts are able to move their forces from place to place. While the yellow shirts - the ones who closed the airport last November/December - have not yet re-appeared, the emergence of the blue shirts cannot bode well. It is even more troubling that on their very first appearance, the blue shirts provoked violence.

One more thing: Do not go out on the streets wearing solid-colour T-shirts. Yellow and red already indicate political affinity, and now dark blue is another group. Who knows what new colours may become too “hot” to wear tomorrow.

What to do? - wear only floral shirts it is Songkran(Thai New Year) after all Sawadee Pi Mai(Happy New Year) !!.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Chiang Mai - Songkran Celebrations
Heading Towards a Soaking !!

Songkran could be quieter this year, with the number of revellers expected to plunge 20-40 per cent out of concern about renewed political tensions. The worries stem from a major red-shirt anti-government rally today.

Tourism associations expect the number of foreign tourists to fall 40 per cent from last year, while domestic Songkran revellers could drop 20-30 per cent. That would mean the holiday could generate only Bt30 billion, less than earlier projections of Bt50 billion.

This would in turn put more pressure on the Kingdom to achieve this year's target of Bt500 billion for tourism revenue.

"Political chaos in Thailand is becoming the main factor in both inbound and domestic tourism. Even tourists familiar with Thailand, such as those from Singapore and Hong Kong, are now waiting for the situation to clear up," said Association of Thai Travel Agents president Apichart Sankary.

He said many tourists were delaying their bookings for the holiday until after today's rally had passed. Tourists in Chiang Mai have been urgently consulting travel agents for trips out of the city, for fear of political turbulence. Tour operators in Bangkok are asking for a 40-per-cent cash guarantee, to ensure that those booking actually do come to Thailand.

The tourism industry, which contributes 6-8 per cent of gross domestic product, suffered badly from last year's protest when Suvarnabhumi Airport was shut down. Many may lose their jobs.

Also in danger of lay-offs is the manufacturing sector, which is suffering from plunging exports. Labour unions worry that some employers may let workers go over the long holiday.

Domestic Travel Association president Maiyarat Pheera-yakoses said signalling a quieter celebration with lower advance bookings for hotels and resorts in Chiang Mai, which is the key destination for the water festival - likely occupancy forecasts this year for Songkran are only 50-60 per cent,down from 90-95 per cent last year.

Bangkok hotels are also suffering from lower forward bookings, she said, adding that domestic tourism had already dropped 40 per cent year on year in the first quarter.

Her association is scheduled to meet with Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silapa-archa today to request help in the form of extra funding for a tourism fair scheduled for June.

Excluded from the downturn are Hat Yai and Pattaya. While hotel operators in Hat Yai expect higher occupancy rates next week, with many Malaysian tourists wanting to participate in a scheduled midnight Songkran event, Middle Eastern tourists will head to Pattaya.

This will help Pattaya, whose hotel occupancy is now only 50-60 per cent, down from 70-80 per cent at this time last year.

Thai Hotels Association president Prakit Shinamourphong said hotel occupancy in Phuket was now 65-70 per cent, down from 90-95 per cent at this time last year. The number of chartered flights for the Songkran period now numbers 80, sharply down from more than 200 last year.

To boost domestic travel, Thai Airways International is launching a hot-season campaign. Thai AirAsia is offering 10,000 domestic seats for Songkran travel starting at Bt100, and 40-per-cent discounts on international routes.

A survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce covering 1,213 respondents showed 87.2 per cent planned to spend Songkran in the Kingdom, while 12.8 per cent would travel abroad.

The ratio of travellers planning foreign trips is the lowest in four years, due to economic concerns.

While foreign trips cost an average of Bt53,000, domestic trips range from Bt3,000 to Bt4,000.

Source: The Nation 08/04/09

Monday, April 6, 2009

Karen Hill Tribe Silver Rings

These charming Thai Karen Hill Tribe Silver Rings are handmade by Karen Hill Tribe of Northern Thailand with a silver content guaranteed to be between 98% & 99%.

All of the craftmen are highly skilled, making each piece by hand, with engraving done using traditional methods of hand-tooling.Each design is a unique handmade reflection of their culture.

Each ring is "FREE SIZE", which means that they will fit all fingers, with just a slight adjustment to the ends.

Please do understand that each silver item is handmade so minor imperfections are part of the charm and character of handcrafted silver also size and weight will be approximate.

Buyer Information: All our handmade jewelry items are shipped by International Registered Airmail,please allow 14-21 days for delivery.

PLEASE NOTE: Any taxes or charges levied within the destination country are NOT included within the selling price, and are therefore the responsibility of the buyer.:


Item No 245

Description: Hill Tribe Silver Handmade Ring
Weight: 8gramms
Size: 22mm x 20mm / 0.88" x 0.8"/each
Silver Content: 98%-99%
Quantity: 1x ring


Item No 246

Description: Hill Tribe Silver Handmade Ring
Weight: 8gramms
Size: 22mm x 20mm / 0.88" x 0.8"/each
Silver Content: 98%-99%
Quantity: 1x ring


Item No 247

Description: Hill Tribe Silver Handmade Ring
Weight: 8gramms
Size: 22mm x 20mm / 0.88" x 0.8"/each
Silver Content: 98%-99%
Quantity: 1x ring