Sunday, November 28, 2021



New Years Eve celebrations around Thailand

Bangkok and Central Region: happy_new_year Bangkok Countdown Ha Ha Ha 2012 on December 31, 2011 at CentralWorld Square, Ratchaprasong Make a Wish Countdown 2012 on December 31, 2011 at the Park Paragon, Siam Paragon Ploenchit Happiness on December 18, 2011 / 14.00-22.00 hrs between Ploenchit and Chidlom Roads 9 Sacred Places on December 17-18 and 24-25, 31, 2011 and January 1-2, 7-8 and 14-15, 2012 at Rattanakosin Island and along the Chao Phraya River. Miracle [email protected] on December 24-25, 2011, Khao San and Tanao Roads Annual Merit Making 2012 on January 1, 2012 at the urban area, BMA Office New Year Festival at Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market on December 31, 2011, Samut Prakan province [email protected] on December 24-25 and 31, 2011, near Bang Pa Kong River, Chachoengsao province Khon Kaen: Amazing Fantasy World on December 29-31, 2011 at Si Chan Road, Khon Kaen province. Hat Yai: Night Paradise Hat Yai Countdown 2012 on December 30-31, 2011 at the Odeon Fashion Mall, Hat Yai, Songkhla province Phuket: Colourful Phuket Countdown 2012 on December 29-31, 2011 at the Sanamchai Ground Phuket Electronic Music and Dance Festival 2012 on December 30-31, 2011, Karon Beach Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai: Countdown 2012 on December 31, 2011 to January 1, 2012 at the Chalermprakiat Hall New Year’s Eve and Happy New Year 2012 on December 30, 2011 to January 1, 2012 in Chiang Saen district

Tourism authorities to giveaway free five-star Bangkok holiday

Thailand’s tourism authorities aim to win back the confidence of international holidaymakers with the chance to win a free trip to Bangkok.

The competition, titled ‘Bangkok Wish List’ will give one lucky winner the chance for a five-star holiday to Bangkok, staying at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, as well as return business class airfares from their home country. Bangkok tourism authorities hope to win back the confidence of international tourism with a free trip giveaway. Participants in the competition must create a list of their five favourite attractions in Bangkok, along with a brief reason as to why their entry should be chosen.

The competition will feature on Facebook and Twitter, with the winning entrant scoring the most ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’.

The competition is aimed at stimulating the nation’s tourism industry back to pre-flood levels.  The floods took the lives of almost 700 people, displaced millions and affected the livelihood of more than 10 million people. In Bangkok, floodwaters inundated Bangkok’s secondary airport at Don Mueang, which led to hundreds of flight disruptions as Nok Air and Orient Thai relocated their flights to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. Meanwhile, the Tourism Council of Thailand has revealed a revised number of international arrivals for this year.  Despite the floods, the forecast of arrivals in Thailand has been reduced by 1.2 million Original estimates estimated a total of 19.5 million, but due to the floods a revised figures of 18.3 million visitors has been forecast.

Vietnamese tour groups have begun returning to Thailand after 1 month flooding

After almost one month, Vietnamese tourists are allowed to join tour groups to Thailand following the country’s worst floods in almost 60 years and killed more than 600 people. Vietnamese tour groups have commenced to Thailand for the first time in almost one month. All tour groups from Vietnam were cancelled at the end of October when floodwaters began to take hold parts of the capital Bangkok.  It is estimated that the cancellations affected more than 1000 travellers from the fellow ASEAN country. Head of PR at a major tour agency in Ho Chi Minh City, Nguyen Minh Man said that tour groups resumed yesterday to the two prominent tourist cities of Bangkok and Pattaya.  Tour operator Viettravel, decided to commence the tours to Thailand after it convinced more than two-thirds of a tour group that the situations on the ground are safe for tourists. Viettravel has told local travellers that the conditions in the Thai capital have returned to normal and that Suvarnabhumi Airport has remained free of flooding.  The company has also had to reassure Vietnamese travellers that supermarkets were fully stocked and food shortages were not a problem. Another travel agency from Ho Chi Minh City, SaigonTourist, has informed its outbound travellers that tours will restart in early December.  A spokesman for the company has said that travellers in the initial tours would be enticed with significant discounts and a range of other benefits.

EU voices concerns over Thailand’s lese majeste laws

 The European Union has made it clear its “deep concerns” over the prison sentence handed down to a 61-year-old man under Thailand’s strict “lese majeste” laws insulting the monarchy. Ampon Tangnoppakul, 61, has been sentenced to a jail term of 20 years for “lese majeste”. Ampon Tangnoppakul was convicted after being charged under the law for sending four SMS messages to an official working for Opposition Leader and then-Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva. Mr Ampon vigorously denies the claims and says that he does not know how to send an SMS.

The jail sentence given to the man has caused outrage amongst human rights groups, such as Amnesty International and the EU, which wanted to remind of the fundamentals that make up “the rule of law, democracy, and the respect for human rights”. “The EU urges the Thai authorities to ensure that the rule of law is applied in a non-discriminatory and proportional manner consistent with upholding basic human rights, including freedom of expression,” the statement said. Mr Ampon was charged for “lese majeste” under the Thailand’s super-tough Computer Crimes Act, which aims to uphold the controversial laws on material on the internet.

Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act has raised the concerns a number of human rights groups.

The law has many critics who say that they are being used purely as political revenge, with many people claiming “lese majeste” is often used as an underhanded way of settling old scores. Under Thai law, authorities are duty-bound to investigate all reports of complaints against those who supposedly break the law. Foreigners in Thailand are not exempt from the laws, with a number of high profile trials held over the last decade.  Those convicted of the crime are generally issued with a royal pardon shortly after their conviction.

Chulalongkorn University News featuring Thai Travel News Editor Jared Sheldon

A group of Chulalongkorn students talk about tourism and the floods with Thai Travel News’ editor Jared Sheldon. 

Tensions eased as Lam Luk Ka and Sam Mai residents reach agreement.

Residents living in Bangkok ’s flood-affected northern districts yesterday found some common ground, reaching an agreement that the sluice gates at Phrayasuren and two other locations would be opened wider. It was agreed that the residents of Lam Luk Ka which have been inundated with floodwaters by almost one month, would receive an additional 5,000 baht compensation by the end of November.

Tensions spilled over earlier this week when Sam Mai residents began dismantling a flood protection barrier.

Talks lasted for over two hours between the residents of Lam Luk Ka, Sam Mai, the Government’s Flood Relief Operations Command (FROC) and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). When the meeting concluded, it was smiles all around with promises made by residents of Lam Luk Ka not to damage any more flood protection barriers, while authorities widen the gaps between three sluice gates in the area. Head of the BMA, Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra, said that the there shouldn’t be any affect to the Bang Chan Industrial Estate,  but the drainage of Khlong Lad Phrao and Khlong Bang Bua would be delayad by up to two weeks. It was smiles all around when a negotiations succeeded earlier today. Lam Luk Ka residents were also told of the additional 5,000 baht compensation, which will be paid by the end of this month.

This amount will be added on top of the 20,000 or30,000 depending on the damaged to homes caused by the foodwaters. While inner Bangkok is bone dry, the situation in some of the city’s outer districts still appears to be dire. Floodwaters are slowly draining out in an uneven manner.  Floodwaters were continuing to build out the front of Bang Chan yesterday, while floodwaters around the Don  Mueang -Rangsit districts in the north of the city noticed a 20cm drop in water levels. Meanwhile, a spokesman for FROC, Pongsapat Pongcharoen said that the so-called ‘big bag’ flood protection barriers had not made any effect on the inner suburbs of Bangkok.  The reason cited for the underperformance of the big bag barriers was due to the pattern of drainage carried out by the BMA. While residents of Sam Mai and Lam Luk Ka may have cooled their temper at the prospect of receiving an additional 5,000 baht compensation, tensions still remain high in some flood affected areas.  Flood victims in some of Bangkok’s outer suburbs say that flood protection barriers that were set up to protect the inner suburbs of the city has prolonged flooding in their districts.

The FROC spokesman said that the organisation would look at a way to relieve some of the trapped water without adding to floodwaters that are still currently affecting those residents living downstream.

Explosion injures six at Khlong Hok Wa as community outrage boils over

Six people were injured last night when an explosive device was hurled into a large crowd of Sai Mai residents who were fixing a gap in the sandbag barrier.

The blast came moments after a dispute over the temporary flood walls that follow the lower line of Khlong Hok Wa in Bangkok ’s east. Police in riot gear were protecting the sluice gates in Khlong Hok Wa, as residents turn against each other. Local police found debris, which appeared to consist of gunpowder and a brick.  The object was thrown onto the bridge opposite the canal where about 100 residents were fiercely trying to close a 70 metre gap in the flood walls. Police believe that the incident was carried out to provoke residents of both sides of the flood wall.

Security at the site was quickly bolstered when crowd-control police in heavy riot gear were on hand from Metropolitan Police Division 2 The gap in the barrier was created in the morning when around 300 residents from Pathum Thani demolished a section of sandbags along the Khlong Hok Wa Canal, which caused even floodwaters to gush into the Sai Mai district . Residents say that flood protection barriers are prolonging flooding in some areas. Local spokesman for the Sai Mai residents, Ratchapol Boonrod pointed his finger squarely at the flood-affected residents from the upstream community of Lam Luk Ka in Pathum Thani. Floodwaters quickly rose by about 30-40 cm on the other side of the barrier when the breach was made.

The barrier at Khlong Hok Wa has played a key role in keeping the inner regions of Bangkok dry, significantly slowing down the flow of water from Pathum Thani, which is situated adjacent to Don Mueang district in Bangkok’s north. Bangkok’s Sai Mai district is situated next to Don Mueang Airport. View Larger Map Meanwhile, Bangkok’s Governor and head of Bangkok’s Metropolitan Administration (BMA) Sukhumbhand Paribatra, said that the damaged sandbag would cause an additional 4 million cubic metres of water to flow into Bangkok, affecting districts in the Sam Mai, Raminthra, Bang Chan and Min Buri areas. While the tensions grew around Khlong Hok Wa, the protests of residents opposed to the big bag flood barriers that cross Paholyothin Road have reached an agreement with authorities. Flood Relief Operations Command (FROC)’s water management team did not believe the gap would raise the floodwaters on Paholyothin Road, and residents were allowed to increase the gap by 5 metres.

Floating Lantern Festival Continues Despite Thai Floods

AFP Elephants prepare to float Krathongs during the Loi Krathong festival at Dusit Zoo in Bangkok on November 2, 2009. A popular Thai holiday in which candle-laden lanterns are floated along waterways and launched into the skies has been disrupted in Bangkok due to ongoing flooding, but festivities are continuing as planned in some other parts of the country.

The Loi Krathong festival, which is an annual favorite of international travelers, is believed by some to have roots in the Indian Diwali, or festival of lights. It became more widespread in Thailand in the 19th century, and involves floating lanterns to pay tribute to Buddha.

The act also involves honoring a Thai water goddess — something that’s especially poignant this year, given the devastating effects caused by the country’s worst flooding in decades. Most official celebrations run from now though through the weekend in various cities.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) told Southeast Asia Real Time that all of its official Bangkok celebrations have been cancelled, however, along with those in the central Thailand cities of Ayutthaya and Suphanburi. Meanwhile, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) was reportedly planning to move its Loi Krathong events from a central Bangkok bridge to city parks that have not been hit by floods.

The BMA could not immediately be reached by telephone, and there were no details available on the BMA website. Despite the cancellation, authorities are still worried that some residents and tourists could ignore official advice and choose to float their lanterns along the Chao Phraya or other waterways that are close to overflowing and subject to unpredictable currents.

The Thai Culture Ministry’s head, Sukumol Khunploem, has warned residents to be aware of the dangers posed by higher water levels, including possible electrocution risks, according to the Bangkok Post.

The Ministry has also asked that anyone who ignores official warnings against participating should at least collect their lanterns after they are floated, so as not to obstruct waterways that may be clogged, according to local reports. Elsewhere in Thailand, where flooding has not been a problem, Loi Krathong events are still set to take place. A festival in Chiang Mai, a northern city popular with tourists, will go ahead, the TAT says.

Those festivities will incorporate the northern Thai custom of launching luminescent paper lanterns into the evening sky, which creates a dazzling effect. Events in the northern Thai city of Sukhothai are also unaffected. In addition, people in southern Thailand destinations, like Phuket and Koh Samui, will still celebrate the holiday. Loi Krathong events are also unaffected in Pattaya, the beach resort on the eastern seaboard, as well as in Hua Hin, a resort city south of Bangkok. Activities in the western Tak province, near the Myanmar border, and in the southern city of Hat Yai, will also go ahead.

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