Monthly Archives: March 2015

Thailand in search of quiet islands

(Ko Bulon Lae) Thai islands of the Andaman coast have’s dream: white sand beaches lapped by turquoise water, with tapering off of colorful wooden boats sailing between elegant Karst Mountains. The only detail that the postcard does not show, it is the thousands of holidaymakers who pile on these small paradise.

Do not despair so far, there are still forgotten islands of mass tourism. Here are two (among others), no further, no less beautiful, just less known.

Ko Tarutao, natural

Near the border of Malaysia, Tarutao National Park encompasses fifty islands, Ko Tarutao, the largest of the archipelago (26 km long and 11 km wide). No village, only the park facilities are hiding in the surrounding nature. It has not always been so: the island was a penal colony until 1948.

Now this is where we come to escape. Strolling kilometer of floury sand of the main beach, you meet a few dozen passengers on weekdays, double in high season.

On other beaches on the island, it is likely to be one-on-one with coconut trees. Beyond the sand, the majority of Ko Tarutao is covered with jungle frolic adorable monkeys langurs, intriguing flying squirrels and a host of birds including hornbills pie with their huge beaks.

For assets, the paths start to attack the steep terrain, kayaks and bicycles are available for exploring the mangrove and isolated corners. It will be understood, do not come here for entertainment, but rather to lose. Little wonder that the island was chosen to shoot a season of reality show Survivor. One caveat, however: waste management could be improved.

Ko Bulon Lae, the small pearlKo Bulon Lae

Not far from Ko Tarutao, Ko Bulon Lae offers a different atmosphere. The size of the island allows to cross in 15 minutes by small bucolic trails. It walks there surrounded by colorful butterflies and songbirds, and sometimes surprised by large lizards meek.

An impenetrable jungle covering the western half of Bulon Lae, a kayak is needed to make the turn in a few hours swimming and watching understood seabed. The calm of the island is disturbed only by the generators that start at dusk.

Beach side: the usual language of white sand shaded by coconut palms, where neighbors are scarce and non-existent waste. Tempting? Sure, but the real secret of the charm of this island comes from its hundred inhabitants. Descendants of Chao Lay, gypsies now settled sea, the villagers first living from fishing and cultivation of rubber. Thus they are able to ensure the delicate balance between preserving their way of life and controlled tourism development. The result is a wonderful cocktail loving travelers who have tasted it, and who appreciate the value of a place as beautiful as single.

Practical advice
How to get there

From the port of Pak Bara (1 hr 30 min drive from Trang and Hat Yai airports), Ko Tarutao is 1 hour boat (1-2 a day) and Ko Bulon Lae 30 minutes navigation (a one boat per day). The latter is also accessible by speedboats making the sea link between Ko Lanta and Ko Lipe season.

When to go

The best season lasts from November to April. It was around New Year and Thai national festivals that the greatest number of visitors arrive in the islands. Most hotels and Tarutao National Park are closed from June to September, during the rainy season.

Accommodation

At Ko Tarutao, bungalows National Park (comfortable but not luxurious, around $ 30) reserve directly on the Internet. Camping is also possible. Book your hotel at tarutao

At Ko Bulon Lae, you have more choices, the deluxe room with direct access to the beach ($ 80, Pansand Resort) in bamboo bungalow has country charm ($ 50 Marina Resort, tel: 0815982420) . The most economical institutions offer spartan bungalows from $ 15.

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In Thailand, the leader of the death threat junta critical journalists

Mocked for having ensured that his regime was “99.99% democratic” Prayut Chan-O-Cha threatened on Wednesday to stay in power “for long” if critics never stopped criticizing it.

Freedom of the press took another blow in recent days in Thailand. The leader of the junta Prayut Chan-O-Cha, said Wednesday he would “probably just run” journalists “do not report the truth,” reports Reuters. “It is likely that we executions,” said he said and without batting an eyelid to reporters about those who do not support the official line of the junta. “You do not have to support the government, but you must spread the truth,” the general added, advising reporters to write in order to strengthen national reconciliation in the kingdom.
Prayut Chan-O-Cha, also prime minister and head of the National Council for Peace and the maintenance of order (the junta), is known for his abrupt manner and his impulsive remarks. In May 2014, it was he who led the coup that overthrew the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, promising to hold elections late 2015-early 2016 and hand over power to a civilian government. But no polls Organizing sign is given.Prayut Chan-O-Cha
Regime increasingly authoritarian

Since then, the regime is accused of having increased the repression of dissidents and facilitate the decline of civil liberties. In January, the junta has forced a German foundation to leave a forum on freedom of the press, arguing that Thailand was in a difficult period. Since taking power, martial law prevails and banned all political meetings.
This is not the first time that Prayut Chan-O-Cha attacks the media. He has already attacked the English-speaking Thai newspaper Matichon, which it accuses of supporting former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. “Do not imagine that I do not know that your articles are in favor of the former administration. I know that the Minister of the Interior before bought a lot of advertising in your newspaper, “- said the head of the junta to reporters before boarding everyday to get to Brunei. The purpose of the military is, according to analysts, to prevent former Prime Minister Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra to return to power.

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Thais handicapped by their poor English

Thais may end in a weak position in the development of the ACS business community in December 2015. In fact, their English is the lowest of all the countries of Southeast Asia .

The ten ASEAN countries are preparing for the opening of a common market (AEC), which should be in place from the month of December 2015.

If Thailand can count on many skilled workers, they lack the language skills, especially in English … A disability may leave Siam the key.

Following the establishment of the common market of the ACS in December 2015, skilled workers can normally move freely within the ten ASEAN countries.

Will be concerned at first professional accounting, engineering, architecture, medical and dental services, and tourism.
But the skills may not be sufficient for Thailand. The Faculty of Economics, Chulalongkorn University, has conducted a survey of various groups of entrepreneurs.

Result: many argue that the problem is not the lack of qualified workers, but the lack of mutual understanding. The ASEAN countries might be close geographically, cultural differences are quite marked.

No other choice than English
The biggest problem is of course the language: to understand each other, workers of different nationalities will have no choice but to speak English.

In Southeast Asia, the English levels vary widely from country to country; and we must admit that Thailand is lagging behind.

The English profiency Index conducts an annual global ranking of countries according to their level of English. This report ranks nations into five categories: very high skills, high skill, moderate skills, low skills and very low skills.

Thailand 42nd class over 60 countries on English proficiency index: it is the lowest among the countries of Southeast Asia.

Among the listed countries, the study includes:

9th Malaysia 55.54 high competence
12th Hong Kong 54.44 Average proficiency
13th South Korea 54.19 Average proficiency
14th Japan 54.17 Average proficiency
25th Taiwan 48.93 Low
26th Saudi Arabia 48.05 Low
29th China 47.62 Low
30th India 47.35 Low
32 Russia 45.79 Low
34th Indonesia 44.78 Very Low competence
39th Vietnam 44.32 Very Low competence
42 Thailand 39.41 Very Low competence
44th Kazakhstan 31.74 Very Low competence

Thailand, which has one of the lowest proficiency scores, also is behind Vietnam and Indonesia which are nevertheless also ranked among the countries with “very low skills.”

Interestingly, countries that are perceived as having a low level of English such as Japan and South Korea also receive a relatively higher score than Thailand in this study.

This ranking is relative, however, since there is no known data for Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Faced with the opening of the common market, Thailand wants to become a “hub” and medical tourism. Indeed, these are two areas where the country is uniquely qualified.

However, competition may be fierce if an effort is not made at the practice of English.

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Thailand: Yingluck Shinawatra will be judged on May 19 for negligence

The Supreme Court of Thailand confirmed Thursday, March 19, the indictment of Yingluck Shinawatra, the former prime minister, to be tried for negligence, and set the trial to May 19 Yingluck facing ten years in prison. She was indicted in mid-February in a corruption case relating to the rice subsidy program implemented during his tenure.
Yingluck has always defended its policy of subsidies to rice farmers, saying it was a grant needed to help poor farmers who historically received little help from the government. However, while popular in the rural strongholds of Shinawatra, the program proved economically disastrous and left the country massive stocks of unsold rice.yingluck-shinawatra

“This case is our authority,” announced Veeraphol Tangsuwan, Justice of the Supreme Court, told reporters. Ironically, May 19 falls a few days before the first anniversary of the coup of 22 May 2014, which brought down the government of Yingluck.
Recurrent political crisis
Yingluck Shinawatra, who had given up on making the move to the Supreme Court, is already banned from politics for five years and banned from leaving the country. The attacks are aimed denounced by his supporters as an alliance of the traditional elites, such as the military or judges, to destroy the political influence of Shinawatra. Yingluck was indeed accused of being a puppet of Thaksin, his brother, whose parties won every election since 2001. Accused of corruption, it took the path of exile for several years to escape prison.
Thailand, deeply divided between pro and anti-Shinawatra, is facing a recurring political crisis since the 2006 coup against Thaksin Shinawatra. Since taking power in May 2014, the military has banned political rallies and multiplied lawsuits against supporters of Yingluck Shinawatra, including under the controversial law of treason. The military justified the coup against the government of Yingluck by the defense of the monarchy, in a context of uncertainty, while the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, 87 years old, is hospitalized.

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10 islands (almost) secret Thailand

Who has not dreamed of his little bungalow on a deserted beach in Thailand? The problem is that with 26 million tourists, the dream becomes more and more inaccessible … And yet, looking good and away from names that are known in all the guides, we finally found.

IF you are not fond of full moon party, and the Bangkok traffic jams were right for your patience, if you look closely, you can still find a few islands in Thailand that remain relatively untouched by tourists.

1. Ko PhayamKoh-Phayam
It is good to discover Ko Phayam: there joined hikers and families alone on this beautiful island. It looks like the 70: Some resorts do not even have electricity, and fuel the weak bulbs bungalows with DIY solar panels.

Hotel Ko Phayam

Expect pristine beaches, pleasant walks through the jungle, bungalows on the beach very basic. A night bus from Bangkok to Ranong is the best way to get to the ferry.

2. Ko Surin
The Surin archipelago is home to some of the best dive sites in Thailand and snorkeling, and scuba diving.

There are two main islands, Ko Surin Nua and Ko Surin Tai. Both are beautiful. The islands are part of a national park, and a few tents and bungalows are the only lodging options. The nearest airport is Phuket and the islands are accessible by ferry from Khao Lak.

3. Ko AdangKo Adang
A paradise in the National Park of Ko Adang. The beach is fabulous and the water a translucent green. You can camp at night, or find your happiness in some basic bungalows. Hiking inside to see a waterfall, snakes, geckos and some monkeys.

Hotel Ko Adang
The nearest airports are Krabi and Phuket.

4. Ko Bulon Lae
If you want to get away from civilization, then this is the island for you. Imagine the air full of butterflies and bats, huge monitor lizards crossing your path.

Eat fish every day in ultra simple restaurants and sleeping in a bungalow on the beach that’s all. It is a small island, and it takes only 40 minutes to go around. The island is close to Ko Lipe, a once beautiful island and now ravaged by tourism.

 

5. Ko Chang Noi
Not to be confused with the Ko Chang everyone knows, southeast of Bangkok.

Ko Chang Noi (the small Ko Chang) is located off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. It is a very relaxed and quiet place: the opposite of the other Ko Chang. No Seven Eleven and no ATM. It is best to get a night bus from Bangkok to Ranong.

6. Ko Kho Khao . hotel Koh Kho Khao
This is a large island with long golden beaches, mangroves and grassy sand banks. You can ride on elephants, playing in the surf and rent bikes, but otherwise it’s mostly for the beach. Families are more common than backpackers with dreadlocks. The nearest airport is Phuket.
7. Bamboo Island
If you find yourself on Phi Phi Don Island, then you need to see Bamboo Island by taking a long tail boat. The best part is that there is nothing to do ….. There is nowhere to spend the night: it’s just a few hours break to enjoy the white sand beach dramatic and clear water.
8. Ko KoodKo Kood
Ko Kood, (often spelled Ko Kut in the past) remained long been a well-kept secret: the island appears for the first time in the 11th edition of the Lonely Planet published in 2006 and barely occupies twenty lines, indicating only three resorts.

Hotel ko kood

The best way to get there is by bus from Bangkok to Laem Sok Pier in Trat province. Then it takes at least an hour high speed boat to reach one of the many beautiful beaches of the island or explore the jungle in search of waterfalls.
9. Ko Lanta  , hotel Ko Lanta
What comes to Ko Lanta in an article on secret islands? In fact Ko Lanta is very large and still has a lot of great beaches in very good condition, and small beaches to discover. There is also an interior mountainous land with lush jungle. The nearest airport is Krabi.

10. Ko Tarutao
Ko Tarutao part of the National Park of the same name (as Ko Adang). You can only rent a bicycle to explore the deserted island, and watch monkeys and abundant birds. Very relaxing and so much better than Ko Lipe, which has grown too quickly and was very spoiled by tourism. The nearest airports are Krabi and Phuket.

hotel ko tarutaoKo Tarutao

No 7/11, no ATM: camping or very basic bungalow generator for electric current few hours a day.

 

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In Thailand, hunting hawkers on the streets of Bangkok

They are the exotic streets of Bangkok, with bric-a-brac of their hawker stalls ranging from noodle soup with sex toys. But the authorities have decided to make way on the streets of the capital, threatening an entire segment of the informal economy, provider of thousands of jobs.vendor-traveling-artery-bangkok

Impossible to push a pram on a sidewalk Bangkok without having to zigzag between the skewers vendors, coconut or counterfeit T-shirts, which are the provincial side of the vibrant metropolis of Southeast Asia, despite its more twelve million inhabitants and its skyscrapers.
“You can think that’s part of the charm of Bangkok. But the charm of Bangkok should be accompanied by some order, “says Vallop Suwandee, Councillor for the City of Bangkok.
“Cleaning” of the image of Thailand
This “return sidewalks for pedestrians” coincides with a more general policy of “cleaning” of the image of Thailand since the coup in May 2014.
This was reflected by the ban on street vendors, at least in some symbolic streets like Khao San Road, popular guesthouses backpackers district and paradise far pirated CD sellers and bags imitating luxury brands .
Police ensures that thousands of Bangkok street vendors remain “allowed to sell” in terms of accepting the rules: fall back on less busy streets and open only in the evenings.
Mongkol Moradokpermpun is part of the 3,000 market vendors Khlong Thom, in the historic center of Bangkok. The market had until Sunday to move several kilometers away. “If they do not change their minds, thousands of people will suffer. This will have an impact on our business. Each family will have problems, “says one who is traveling salesman drink for 30 years, while preparing coffee for its customers.
“I can not pay my children’s school fees,” laments as Juttigan Jitcham, noodle vendor in Silom business district of Bangkok, which is part of the city covered ten areas. The ban on the sale day has halved his monthly income, the woman ahead 30 years.
The junta is widely attack the informal sector, with sporadic operations, high-profile against drugs or gambling. For the informal sector as street stalls rhymes with bribes to police, known for their corruption.
Last summer, a military officer has been charged with extorting money to street vendors Patpong red-light district of the Thai capital, synonymous with go-go bars and various stalls.
Similar rigor was imposed in beach resorts like Phuket in the south, where the beaches are now emptied of their mobile canteens and loungers lessors.
Superficial Policy
Narumol Nirathron, a professor at Thammasat University in Bangkok, is concerned with a superficial operation without concern to offer these merchants selling alternative suitable places.
“There are people who are not ready to be moved in such a short time. The sidewalk is not just there for pedestrians but for some people to make a living, “she says, while Thailand has an unemployment rate near zero, thanks to the informal economy.
According to Hall Bangkok, some 20,000 street vendors are recorded. They would be 400,000 according to a study from 2000. And the trend is on the rise. If some will come out rather well compared to factory workers, many of them come from the rural northern and northeastern and live in difficult conditions in slums, some in the city center.
This mass of workers raises annoyance of the inhabitants of Bangkok, even on Facebook where a campaign in favor of this “cleansing” has received nearly 8,000 “like”. Street vendors travel the policy of Singapore in the 1980’s as an example. Rigor impractical in Bangkok.
“The representatives of the authorities and we will hide. And when they leave, we will return, “said a street vendor, requesting anonymity, anticipating a release room rigor.

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Thailand: the scandal around the former continues Princess

New scandal of lese majeste in Thailand. The former wife of the crown prince’s parents were arrested, accused of improperly benefited from the status of their daughter to imprison a young woman. This is the latest twist in the dramatic fall in Srirasmi princess and her family since last November. Sirasmi the princess herself had renounced his royal status in December.Thailand, the scandal around the former continues Princess

With our correspondent in Bangkok, Arnaud Dubus

The uncle, brothers and sister Srirasmi had already been imprisoned after the explosion of a massive corruption scandal in November. It is now up to the parents of the unfortunate princess.

The latter saw the misfortunes befall her head at a feverish pace in the last three months. Her mother and father are accused of having played the title Princess to force the police to imprison a young woman on the basis of a false accusation of fraud.

Initially, the parents of the former princess, aged 66 and 72 years, categorically denied the accusations. But Friday, February 27, they gave after a long interrogation by the police. They were immediately imprisoned awaiting trial.

Thais observe carefully this series. A question touches on many minds: how the crown prince himself could he ignore the magnitude of the actions committed by the family of his wife?

Some observers believe that the campaign against the family of the former Princess reflects an agreement between the prince and the military who run the country. The prince must come clean about him before the throne after the death of his father, the king, 87 years old.

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