Thailand Bulletin For Monday, July 23
Roundup of Thailand news with AJW
BANGKOK BRIEF: Myanmar will sign three memorandums of understanding today to reaffirm their economic cooperation, particularly on the development of Dawei deep-sea port and its strategic link with the Thai Eastern Seaboard. The initial investment in Dawei has been estimated at $US8.6 billion (272 billion baht). The Criminal Court will today review Red Shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan's bail after he was accused of breaching his bail condition. A sample of Enterovirus-71, or EV-71, is being tested for mutation after it was found in the body of a toddler suspected of being the first fatal case of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) in Thailand this year.
WORLD SUMMARY: Bradley Wiggins was crowned Britain's first Tour de France champion on Sunday after helping Sky teammate, Mark Cavendish, to secure a fourth consecutive stage win on the world-famous Champs Elysees. South Korea's Samsung Electronics, the world's top smartphone maker, has sold more than 10 million units of its newest Galaxy S III model since its launch about two months ago. Israel on Sunday said it was vigilant ahead of the Olympics in London but denied a report in Britain's Sunday Times that it had sent a team to hunt down militants preparing an attack on its athletes. The death toll from the heaviest rain to hit Beijing in over 60 years has risen to 37, Chinese state media reported on Sunday.
TODAY: Weather 33C; Hot and partially cloudy; Euro:US 1.2123; Euro:Baht 38.38; SET Index: 1209
BURMESE VISIT: Myanmar's reformist President on Sunday began a twice-postponed visit to neighboring Thailand expected to focus on economic ties.
President Thein Sein arrived for his first trip to Thailand since he became President in March last year and initiated political and economic reforms after almost five decades of repressive military rule. He will meet with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Crown Princess Sirindhorn before departing Tuesday.
Since Thein Sein assumed the presidency 16 months ago, he has overseen a wave of political and economic reforms including the release of political prisoners, the signing of cease-fires with armed rebel groups, the easing of restrictions on the press, and opening a dialogue with prisoner-turned-parliamentarian Suu Kyi.
Thein Sein had been scheduled to come to Thailand in late May to attend the World Economic Forum in Bangkok but cancelled those plans amid speculation that he feared being upstaged by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was also attending on her first trip abroad in more than two decades.
A rescheduled trip in June was also put off because of sectarian violence in western Myanmar that left at least 80 people dead and tens of thousands homeless. Thein Sein previously visited Thailand in 2008 when he was Prime Minister under the previous ruling junta.
Thailand's proximity to Myanmar gives it an advantage in its efforts to benefit from its neighbor's vast natural resources, including minerals as well as oil and gas, an under-exploited agricultural sector, and opportunities in real estate and tourism.
HEALTHY HOLIDAYS: TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel site, announced the results of its health and fitness on vacation survey of more than 1,400 US travelers, revealing that healthy eating and exercise play an integral role in many Americans' vacations. Sixty-nine percent say healthy eating is important to them when traveling for leisure, while 53 percent always or often exercise when they're on the road.
Among those that exercise on vacation, 31 percent say their primary motivation is to maintain their fitness regimen. A further 28 percent do so in order to avoid gaining weight, while the third most popular reason for exercising on holiday is to capitalize on having more free time to work out (14 percent).
Travelers confess that delicious cuisine and cocktails can be hard to resist: 65 percent are more likely to over-indulge on food on vacation than while at home, while 49 percent are more likely to over-indulge on alcohol.
MONDAY FOOD & WINE:
Monsoon Valley: Award-winning, quality New Latitude wines from Hua Hin Hills Vineyard in Thailand. Aromatic and enticing, Monsoon Valley wines come in three ranges to suit every dining and entertaining experience.
Monsoon Valley Cuvée de Siam Rouge is made from the vineyards oldest and best vines; Monsoon Valley Cuvée de Siam Rouge is a rich red wine blended from Shiraz and Sangiovese grapes and aged in French oak barrels and bottled unfiltered. A deep red wine with medium tannin levels and rich aromas of blackberry, Amarena cherry, coffee, pepper, and chocolate, Monsoon Valley Cuvée de Siam Rouge resembles a great Northern Rhone Valley red and pairs well with meats, stews, grilled racks of lamb, or traditional Italian meat dishes like Bistecca Fiorentina and Osso Bucco.
• Gold Medal : AWC International Wine Challenge Vienna, Austria, 2010
• Trophy Winner Hong Kong, International Wine & Spirits Competition, 2010
• Silver Medal : Wine Style Asia Award, Singapore, October 2010
• Bronze Medal : FBAT Wine Challenge, Bangkok 2010
• Commended award Decanter World Wine, UK 2010
• Commended award IWC, UK 2010
• Seal of approval : Japan Wine Challenge, Japan 2010
• 84 points, Robert Parker, August 2010
• 80 points Mundus Vini, Germany, 2010
YOUNG WINSTON: Simon Ward, the actor best known for portraying Churchill in Richard Attenborough's 1972 film, Young Winston, has died aged 70.
TOUR DE FRANCE: Bradley Wiggins, 32, became the first British cyclist ever to win the world's grandest bike race, the Tour de France, cheered on by thousands of fans who had made the pilgrimage from the UK because they were determined to be able to say they were there for a moment of unbeatable theatre, to salute perhaps the greatest individual sporting feat by any British sportsman in history.
EURO ZONE: Greece retakes its position at the heart of the European debt crisis this week as its creditors assess how far off course the country is from bailout targets, raising again the specter of its exit from the euro.
Greece’s troika of international creditors - the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the IMF - will arrive in Athens tomorrow amid doubts the country will meet its commitments and reluctance among euro-area states to put up more funds should it fail.
WEEKEND SPORT: Golf - South African Ernie Els won the British Open by one stroke from Adam Scott after the Australian suffered an extraordinary late collapse. Scott, chasing his first major championship, started the last round with a four-shot lead and seemed to be cruising to victory as he maintained that cushion with six holes to play.
Cricket - A triple century by Hashim Amla and four strikes by South Africa's bowlers had England reeling on the fourth day of the first Test match at the Oval. England was 4-102 at the close, needing another 150 runs to avoid an innings defeat.
SHOOTING: US President Barack Obama has arrived in Colorado to honor victims of Friday's gun attack at a Batman film screening that left 12 people dead.
ANOTHER TAT ACRONYM: The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has divided its action plan into five implementation categories under the acronym, “DISCO Plan.” The five categories include: Digital marketing, Image-building, Sustainable development, Crystallization/crisis management, and Organization management.
THAI TOURISM: Phuket is at risk of sharing the same fate as another beach destination: Pattaya. Pattaya struggles to shake off a seedy reputation as Thailand's ''Sin City'' and with red-light entertainment, crime, and unchecked development, it is synonymous with sleaze and spoiled beaches.
Tourism's contribution to GDP has barely increased since 2003 and now hovers at 6 percent. And with unspoiled destinations in neighboring TESBurma opening up, Thailand is under pressure to decide what type of tourism it wants. Headlines that are troubling include taxi driver mafias, transvestite thieves, pollution, tourist brawls, traffic accidents, and at airports - radar glitches, flight delays, and long immigration queues.
"The Tourism Authority of Thailand thinks numbers are going up, so people must like it here, but the problem is the quality of their visit has gone down," said Larry Cunningham, Australia's Honorary Consul to Phuket, an island described by travel guide Lonely Planet as "one of the world's most famous dream destinations." The government has vowed to tackle "mafias" in tourist areas, while in February, Cunningham appealed to Phuket's government to stop jet-ski operators who hire thugs and demand compensation for equipment damage renters did not cause.