Garndah apes a mahout
as he gallops away
Animal talent shows at Nong Nooch Garden part of
“Unseen in Thailand” campaign
"Why stick to the same old ways of traveling and see
the stuff that you have seen a lot of times before," was one of
comments made by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) which intimated the
office had been working on something special that is now ready for the
- perhaps the world’s first chimp mahout.
Nong Nooch Garden recently responded to the eagerness of
the TAT to boost Thailand’s tourism sector by organizing some pretty
unusual animal talent shows. For example, one of the shows features an ape
riding on the back of an elephant. The chimpanzee named Garndah has spent a
lot of time with her friend Troodjean, the 2-year-old female elephant, the
daughter of Bird and Vassana. Troodjean was born in February 2001, on
Chinese New Year day, or ‘Troodjean’ in Thai.
Thongchai Sodorn, marketing manager of Nong Nooch Garden
said, "Thailand was hit hard by the decline in number of tourists due
to the Gulf war and the SARS health scare. Nong Nooch Garden and other
tourist attractions had to do something to survive the situation."
Thongchai explained that Nong Nooch Garden’s monkey and
elephant trainers combined their efforts and skills to train these wild
animals to become tame and follow their instructions. "It was a great
challenge for our trainers to get Garndah to hop up on Troodjean and ride
her as well as a human mahout," he said.
The scene strikingly shows the great relationship the ape and the
elephant have formed and it creates a memorable and stunning moment for
tourists when they watch them. The Nong Nooch Garden marketing manager
confirmed that nothing like this has ever happened anywhere before and it is
something animal lovers should not miss!
Tourism Authority of Thailand introduces TAT Call Center 1672
Uamporn Jirakarnvisan, director of Tourism Authority of
Thailand Northeast Region 1 announced that Tourism Authority of Thailand
(TAT) has set up the 24 hour TAT Call Center 1672 for tourists to acquire
travel information by calling the hotline number 1672.
Tourism Authority of Thailand provides 20 lines for
inquires concerning tourism in Thailand between 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. and
other 48 lines with automatic answering around the clock. Tourists can
receive the information through telephone and FAX. They can also surf the
website www.tourismthailand.org and ask for specific information via e-mail:
For further information about the Call Center contact the
Tourism Service Department, Tourism Authority of Thailand 1600 New Petchburi
Road Makkasan, Ratchthewee, Bangkok, or call 02-250-5500 extension 2130.
The address of the Tourism Authority of Thailand office
for Northeast Region 1 is building no. 2102-2104, Mitraphap Road, Muang
district, Nakhornrachasrima or telephone 044-213666, 044-213030 and fax
044-213667 between 8.30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Pattaya Bids for the Skål Eco Tourism Award
At the conclusion of the monthly luncheon last month at
Yorkies, Andrew Wood, Skål club secretary mentioned the upcoming Skål
Eco-tourism Awards. Initiated by the Skål Club of Pattaya and East
Thailand, a committee has been appointed by the governor of Chonburi,
Sawarng Srisarkun comprising of top governmental representatives as well as
leaders in the tourism sector in Pattaya.
Wood, secretary of Skål International, Pattaya and East Thailand said,
"The rehabilitation of Pattaya has been an ongoing project which dates
back to as early as 1997.
This project follows a plan prepared for the Skål
International Ecotourism Awards created and adopted worldwide.
Skål International is linked with caring for the
environment, and is a powerful influence and instigator of change for
improvement in the travel trade industry. It serves to contribute towards
Skål projecting the image of an international travel association that is a
powerful force in the travel and tourism industry, capable of acting in
unison to initiate change, encourage the conservation of the environment in
order to promote tourism and travel, and confer awards to encourage the
leaders/professionals of the tourism industry to contribute to conservation
around the world. It will also serve the purpose of acquainting the world
with this new concept which puts emphasis on the importance of the
interaction of the physical, cultural and social environment in the act of
tourism taking place, the traveller’s responsibility and the need for
active community participation for Ecotourism.
Andrew Wood, secretary of Skål International, Pattaya
and East Thailand, gave a brief summary of Pattaya’s objectives, "The
rehabilitation of Pattaya has been an ongoing project which dates back to as
early as 1997. As Thailand’s oldest international resort destination,
Pattaya has come a long way since its early days as a fishing village on the
East Coast of Thailand. As a direct result of the influx of foreign
visitors, at first primarily United States navy personnel on assignment in
Vietnam followed by a much broader and diverse mix of tourists, the city of
Pattaya experienced a decline in environmental standards which reached it’s
lowest point towards the mid-1990s.
"Witnessing the significant decline in the
environment and natural habitat of Pattaya, particularly the seawater
quality, a rehabilitation campaign was instituted and financed by the
private as well as public sector. The campaign has thus far resulted in the
development and subsequent operations of a large-scale wastewater treatment
plant, the beautification of Pattaya’s roadways and commercial areas, the
creation of nature parks, the erection of boat piers and the all-important
regulation and enforcement of environmental standards.
"This degeneration of the environment shares a
direct correlation to the decline in visitor numbers to Pattaya in the
early- to mid-1990s. The effects of the rehabilitation campaign, however,
have served to stem the decline and have over the past few years resulted in
a growing number of visitors to Pattaya. Currently, Pattaya attracts in
excess of 3 million visitors annually. Forecasts expect this upward trend to
continue, particularly now that the seawater around Pattaya Bay has been
declared safe for swimming."
The Skål Ecotourism Awards will be announced at the Skål World Congress
on 22nd October 2003 in Chennai India.
Emirates’ Skywards sweeps “Freddie” awards
Skywards, the frequent flyer program of Emirates, the
Dubai-based global passenger and cargo air carrier, and Sri Lankan Airlines
continues to outpace the industry. At InsideFlyer magazine’s 15th Annual
Freddie Awards dinner at the Wyndham Hotel in Colorado Springs, Skywards
finished first in six categories, including the coveted international
"Program of the Year" award.
Only three years old and competing with the leading
frequent flyer programs of the world, Skywards pulled a stunning finish,
unseating six-time "Program of the Year" winner, SAS EuroBonus.
"It is a great honor to be recognized so
impressively by InsideFlyer and the traveling public. These awards reflect
how international travelers respond to our commitment to provide the very
best customer service in the world," said Brian LaBelle, Skywards ‘
The airline also collected first place awards for Best
Elite Level, Best Customer Service, Best Award Redemption, Best Web Site and
Emirates’ first-ever win in the category of Best Affinity Card for the
co-branded Emirates - Citibank Credit Card. It placed second in the Best
Phuket hotel occupancy plummets as SARS keeps tourists away
Hotels in Phuket are rushing to reduce room rates and
encouraging staff to take unpaid leave after the impact of Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) has left them with occupancy rates of a mere
President of the provincial tourism business association,
Phattanaphong Ekwanich said, "The impact of SARS is forcing hotels to
cut overhead costs by reducing staff salaries. Slashing room rates is a
desperate bid to attract more visitors during the low season."
The Phuket Association of Tourism Businesses has prepared
a letter to the government, urging it to offer tax concessions to ensure the
survival of the island’s tourism industry, saying that if hotel and
tourism companies were badly affected the province’s whole economic system
could be damaged.
Jirasak Thanakittitham, manager of the Kata-Karon Beach
Hotel Association, highlighted the urgency of the situation, saying that
occupancy rates of 10-30 percent represented a 10-year low, and had put
hotels in the area in a critical position.
"As far as hotels in the Kata-Karon area are
concerned, there have been discussions between owners and their staff to
find ways in which all can work together to survive. We have to accept that
the tourism situation at the present time is extremely bad. The staff must
accept this," he said, adding that hotel personnel were being asked to
take up to five days unpaid leave a month. (TNA)
Austrian Airlines Group
“Magic Price” offers cut prices on spring and summer fares
With its new "Magic Price" special fare
promotions, the Austrian Airlines Group is offering a range of attractive
flight offers. Fares have been slashed by up to 50 % for passengers wishing
to travel from Austria and Western Europe to destinations around the world.
The new offers are available with immediate effect, and
flights can be taken throughout the summer holiday season until 31 August
Chief Commercial Officer of the Austrian Airlines Group,
Dr. Josef E. Burger said, "Flying with the Austrian Airlines Group has
never been as cheap as it will be this spring and summer."
Just a few examples of "Magic Price" are
Highlights for City Trips departing from Austria starting at 149 euros to
Rome, Milan, Venice, London, Dublin, Amsterdam, Brussels or Istanbul.
Starting from 249 euros flights are available to Central
and Eastern Europe, to Moscow, Warsaw, Bucharest, Sofia, Vilnius, St.
Petersburg, Krakow, Tirana, Minsk or Kiev. Alternatively, flights are on
sale from as little as 99 euros from Vienna to Budapest or Prague.
From Austria to popular Holiday Destinations knockdown
rates from 199 euros are offered on flights to Nice, Barcelona, Palma de
Mallorca, Malta, Athens, Thessaloniki, Bologna and Florence. To Lisbon,
Porto and Faro in Portugal fares start at 249 euros.
Holidays in Scandinavia and Finland come true at 249
euros, traveling to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Oslo and Helsinki.
New "Magic Price", flights to Egypt are available for only 299
Flights overseas to New York, Washington, Toronto or
Montreal start at 399 euros. From Austria to Germany the same low fares
continue to apply with prices starting at just 110 euros while on flights
departing from Germany, there are fares to Tokyo and Osaka starting at 549
The global Magic Price offers are on sale from 26 April
to 31 May 2003.
The offers can be booked around the clock in the Austrian
Airlines Group offices in Vienna, Graz and Bregenz, at the sales counters of
all Austrian airports, at a travel agency of your choice or online at
The Raging Storm
by Kathryn Brimacombe
During a storm several nights ago, I became frightened of
wind. I had never been scared by wind before and I was shocked to have found
this fear. I love watching storms, especially storms in Thailand. A little
thrill flickers in my body as I see the sky darken to a deep purple over the
horizon, and in the distance I hear a small grumble of thunder. I wait in
anticipation for the storm to arrive and unleash its power and strength - I
scan the clouds for flashes, I sniff the air for ozone, and oftentimes when
the rains come I dance in the street.
flashed, illuminating the night sky with purple and yellow light as if it
were day, thunder cracked as if had split the earth"
But before the storm sinks its teeth into the sky
overhead, it sends a forerunner, a messenger to let everyone know it is on
its way - the wind.
Lately in Nong Khai, storms have been coming from the
north, from Laos. The days are hazy, humid, and hot, but if the sun sets in
a fireball into clouds building up on the horizon, chances are an hour or so
later the wind will pick up and a storm will erupt and rage over the Mekong
River and the town of Nong Khai before heading south.
But on that day we had no such warning.
were bent so that their limbs touched the wet ground, limbs snapped off and
disappeared into the clouds..."
The sun had glared incessantly all day until it fell into
the Mekong, and the air was so humid my clothes and skin were damp. The heat
was ruthless, and I had no energy to complete the simplest tasks; my
lifeblood was cool water connected to my lips by a straw. Leaves on the
trees and trousers and shirts drying on clotheslines were still like stone -
there wasn’t the slightest breath of air to move them.
The sun sunk lower in the river, the sky darkened into
dusk, and bats flew through the sultry air, clicking and swooping, diving
for insects. My friend and I were sitting and chatting on the outdoor patio
of my partner’s restaurant, which looks out to a tree-lined road that
connects to the bank of the Mekong River. As we wiped our faces and necks
with handkerchiefs, we said we couldn’t believe how hot it was, and shook
our heads - there wasn’t a chance of rain to cool the night.
Yet in the shadows of the black sky we didn’t see the
clouds whipping up over Laos, obliterating the stars, the moon. We didn’t
see any flashes. We couldn’t smell any ozone. Just the hairs on my arms
began to rise slightly, lifted with a puff of breeze, and I sighed and
smiled as the cool air caressed my skin. Maybe we would be lucky with a
little wind tonight, I thought, so I could sleep without feeling prickly
But suddenly the temperature dropped; the hairs on the
back of my neck lifted and I shivered. We heard a curious sound like rain as
hundreds of dead leaves scuttled down the street, whipped up by the wind,
scratching the pavement.
Then we heard a howl, and a blast of wind roared down the
street taking with it leaves, tree branches, and sheets of newspaper. As we
ducked the flying debris and frantically tried to roll up the awning that
was flapping wildly, while the metal poles were swinging into the electrical
lines, I heard the wind whistle for the first time. I didn’t know what was
overhead, or what was coming, and I was scared.
The awning finally rolled up, torn in places into shreds
by the gusts of air, we grabbed the tables to bring inside just as
lightening flashed, illuminating the night sky with purple and yellow light
as if it were day, thunder cracked as if had split the earth, and the rain
crashed in almost horizontal sheets. The sound was deafening.
We closed the sliding metal gate to just a crack, and
looked at each other with wide, fearful eyes. As the lights flickered off
and on, she sat immobile in a chair while I watched the destruction outside,
my eye peering through the opening of the gate, which vibrated with each
explosion of thunder. Trees were bent so that their limbs touched the wet
ground, limbs snapped off and disappeared into the clouds, potted plants
blew over and rolled down the street, wooden signs were shredded like paper,
the pieces scattering into the sky, and all the while bright yellow flowers
filled the air as the storm raged overhead.
For more than two hours the storm focused its fury over
the town and surrounding villages, gradually heading south. When we finally
crept outside, the damage was incredible. Trees were shattered, stripped of
leaves, roofs were blown off homes and shops, shelters collapsed, and debris
and rubble was strewn all over the ground. Townspeople and villagers alike
said that was the worst storm they could ever remember.
Although the wreckage has been removed and repairs slowly made, the torn
trees and my newly-found fear serves as a reminder of that night. Especially
the tingling sensation I get across the back of my neck whenever I hear a
slight rustle of wind in the trees.