Thailand Bulletin For Wednesday, August 22
Roundup of Thailand news with AJW
Weather 34C; Hot, cloudy, rain; Euro:US 1.2466, Euro:Baht 39.14, SET Index: 1230
Deep South militants launch coordinated attacks to mark Ramadan end. MP's son killed "for politics or road rage." Cigarettes, booze taxes up.
Arctic ice at record low. George Soros buys 8 percent of Man United. Taliban rockets hit US general's plane. Ethiopia strongman PM dies, 2 decades in office.
The Yingluck Shinawatra government plans to issue health cards for both Thai and migrant children under the age of six for free basic health care, including vaccinations.
Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri said yesterday the government has worked out policy guidelines to improve basic healthcare services for children and women, including children of migrant workers.
- MYANMAR BOOMS: Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels & Tourism registered 299,529 foreign visitors entering the country through Yangon and various border checkpoints during the first 7 months of the year, a 37.5 percent increase over the 217,837 tourists received during the same period in 2011.
From January-July, more than 60 percent of visitors to Myanmar were from Asian source markets, including 48,014 from Thailand, the single largest group by nationality, followed by Japan with 23,242, China with 22,283, and South Korea with 17,799.
Domestic airlines in Myanmar recently announced a hike in flight prices of nearly 10 percent for the coming high season, a rise of nearly 30 percent compared with the same time last year. Rangoon-Mandalay flights will cost US$128 one way, Rangoon-Heho/Nyaung Oo will cost US$120, and Rangoon-Myitkyina will cost US$200 from October 1.
The Ministry of Immigration officially announced the rollout of visas-on-arrival at Mandalay and Naypyidaw airports from October after resuming the service for business and transit passengers arriving in Rangoon from June 1.
A 24-hour transit visa currently costs US$20, a visa for meetings and conferences lasts 28 days at US$40 and business visas last 70 days for US$70.
International airlines as well as local travel and hospitality providers are ramping up operations in anticipation of an influx of foreign visitors to Burma during the winter peak tourist season.
New airlines are planning routes into Myanmar’s big cities while existing carriers, including THAI, Bangkok Airways, AirAsia, Myanmar Airways International (MAI), Malaysia Airlines, SilkAir, and Jetstar Airway, are all increasing their services.
- BKK SURVEY: What annoys residents the most are the pot-holed sidewalks full of motorcycles and stalls (51 percent) followed by taxis who refuse to go to the destination (34 percent), and the lack of public transportation in some parts of the city (11 percent). Only 4 percent judge the lack of bicycle lanes a problem. But whatever the complaints, most of the residents and visitors will still agree that Bangkok is a fun place to be and to live.
- DENTAL CARE IN THAILAND: Expensive dental treatment overseas is creating a significant number of tourists to Thailand. Dental processes such as fillings, dentures, bridges, braces, caps, and teeth whitening, often unaffordable at home, causes a dilemma to the average American, European, Australian, and new Zealander. Fortunately, there is an answer. Consumers can fly to Thailand and get their own dental functions done by Thailand dental practitioners.
Why Do People Go to Thailand for Dental Care?
The reason that people visit Thailand for their dental treatments is to spend less. In the United States a fairly easy filling can cost as much as US$200. In Thailand, the same procedure is performed for $20 to $30. Thailand dentists charge a small fraction of the price. People who need substantial dental work may be charged tens of thousands of dollars in the US. In many cases, it is less expensive to travel to Thailand and have the work done by a Thai dentist, who are often trained in the US or UK and can converse in English.
- SKAL WORLD CONGRESS 2012: This year's Congress will be held in Korea, October 2-7. Korean Airlines is offering AD75 airfares. There are only 2 months left for the 73rd SKAL World Congress to be held in the Korean cities of Seoul and Incheon, from October 2-7, 2012. The Korean organizers are working hard in preparing an enjoyable program, and all SKAL members are encouraged to attend. Full information is available on the special Congress website: www.skalkorea2012.org .
- HERITAGE HOTELS IN ASIA: Originally built in 1928, The Fullerton Hotel has been home to the General Post Office, Chamber of Commerce, and The Singapore Club. After an almost US$300 million renovation in 2001, it is now home to one of Singapore’s most loved luxury hotels.
Classic architecture like Dorick columns, monumental porte cocheres, and Palladian architectural detailing make it as stunning to look at as it is to stay in. Rooms are grand and spacious, featuring large beds, contemporary desks, and streamlined bathrooms. The suites are a historic way to spend a few days, with views of the city that contrast with a truly 1920s motif.
- MACAU FIREWORKS: The 24th Macau International Fireworks Display Contest, to be held at the sea area in front of the Macau Tower on September 8, 15, 22, 29, and October 1, is expected to be more spectacular than in previous years. The Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) announced yesterday that it will raise the subsidy given to participating teams for fireworks materials by 25%, i.e. up to US$25,000, starting this year, while also increasing the correspondent support for delivery expenses.
The measure aims to “give all the teams the possibility of performing on the same level,” revealed MGTO Director João Manuel Costa Antunes during a press conference organized yesterday at the Macau Tower.
- PHUKET DISCO LATEST: The body of a British man, missing feared dead in a Phuket disco fire, has been identified, Phuket police sources said.
The revelation comes before a statement from pathologists in Bangkok, where the process of formally identifying four bodies badly burned in Friday morning's after-hours blaze at Phuket's Tiger Disco is continuing.
The identification of British tourist Michael Pio Tzouvanni, 24, is now "just a formality." It is believed conclusive identification came with the comparison of dental records.
Mr. Tzouvanni's brother, Joseph, 26, flew to Phuket and hoped to find his brother, who made a last-minute telephone call from the flaming disco, alive.
It is understood that Joseph is flying back to Britain immediately. Michael, a building surveyor, came from a family of 5 brothers and a sister.
One of his London-based brothers, who did not want to be named, said: "We are mourning his death, we are not assuming he is alive. We are 99 percent sure he is one of the bodies.
"His credit card stopped at 3:00 am, and his phone has not been used since. He was always in contact, we are a very close family. Obviously it was his time.
"He called his best friend from inside the club and said, 'I am in the fire.'
"He said calmly, 'There is no way out of here, I love you,' and that was it.
"The night before he called home and said, 'I don't think I am going to make it out of this country. I don't know why, I want you to tell my family that I love them,' It was like he knew."
- PATTAYA DEATH: A New Zealand man has been killed by a Swede in a bar fight over a dog in the Thai beach resort of Pattaya, almost a year to the day since another New Zealander was murdered there. Pattaya made headlines in New Zealand in August last year when World Croquet President Charles Jones was stabbed to death by a Syrian. (No Thais were involved in either murder.)
Robert E. Hollick, 43, died from his wounds after being stabbed 3 times in a drunken bar fight over a dog. Andreas Ringvall, 40, says he wielded the foot-long knife in self-defense.