Oil Spill At Koh Samet, Thailand

Another quick post here, due to several searches on the oil spill at Koh Samet, Thailand.

Hua Hin is on the opposite side of the Gulf of Thailand from Koh Samet. It would be very unlikely if Hua Hin was adversely affected by the oil spill at Koh Samet, other than having more tourists come here rather than go there.

Depending on how bad the spill really is, which only time will tell, it is likely that only Koh Samet and nearby areas like the beaches around Ban Phe will be affected.

The northern reaches of the Gulf of Thailand are, and haven’t been, that clean in quite some time. There is too much agricultural run off of fertilizers and pesticides and the general pollution from millions of people living in the area. Fishermen fish in the lower gulf, not in the bowels of Bangkok.

If you’re thinking of coming to Hua Hin, there’s no need to change your plans. If you’re thinking of going to Koh Samet, you might want to reconsider. Continue reading

Hua Hin boasts sunflowers, too

As The Post says, we’ve got lots of sunflowers, but be careful what you believe about the elephants.

Hua Hin boasts sunflowers, too

The resort town of Hua Hin has added a 100-rai sunflower belt to its growing list of attractions.

The flowers, on view since Songkran on a plot that belongs to Wat Huay Mongkol, are expected to remain in bloom until early May. The temple is home to the largest statue of revered monk Luang Pu Thuat in Thailand, 11.5 metres tall and 9.9 metres wide.

To begin with, the temple planted sunflower on 50 rai at the start of this year. It drew huge crowds, said Pinnart Charoenpol, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Prachuap Khiri Khan office, prompting the abbot to expand cultivation to 100 rai.

As is the norm, Thais visiting sunflower fields like to get themselves pictured in their midst, but additionally, here they can take a tour riding elephants.

Wat Huay Mongkol is located in Tub Tai, a tambon of Hua Hin District. From the town take Highway 3218 and drive for 14 kilometres to Nhong Tapeo intersection. There turn left. The temple is four kilometres from the intersection.

For details, call the temple at 032-576-187 to 8 and 032-576-296 or TAT at 032-513-885 and 032-513-871.

We did the sunflowers right after New Year and we didn’t even have to climb up the Wat. Now they’ve replanted with twice as much as they had before.

The elephants are a different story, however. They claim to have an Elephant Rehabilitation Center, but the elephants that need rehabilitating are the ones they have you ride.  It’s hot out there in the sugar cane/sunflower fields and even elephants need a break from the hot sun. On the day we were there, the elephants were literally crying for water, the mahouts couldn’t control them, and the elephants were doing everything they could to stop and eat any weed they could find.  It wasn’t a pleasant sight.

Enjoy the sunflowers but help your karma and the elephants by taking comfortable shoes, sunscreen, an umbrella, and your camera and don’t ride the elephants.

The Sixth Preserve Hua Hin Heavy Half Marathon is on tap for the 4th of April

The Sixth Preserve Hua Hin Heavy Half Marathon is on tap for the 4th of April.

The 6th annual Preserve Hua Hin Run will be organised by the Preserve Hua Hin Group in coordination with Prachuab Khirikhan Province, the Hua Hin Municipality, and the local public and private sectors. Runners will find the Preserve Hua Hin Heavy Half Marathon a real challenge with a steep climb up Hin Lek Fai Hill. This year we were encouraged by the Prachuab Khirikhan provincial authority to include our run with the special events of the province to highlight “sports for health” and the promotion of tourism.

Race Day
Sunday, April 5, 2009

Place
On Hin Lek Fai Hill (behind the Train Station) Hua Hin City.

Start & Finish
All events will start and finish on Hin Lek Fai Hill.

Event Information
Heavy Half Marathon 21.100 km. 5.30 a.m.
Heavy Quarter Marathon 10.550 km. 6.00 a.m.
Walk & Fun Run 3 km. 6.15 a.m.

Categories
Heavy Half Marathon 21.100 km. (800 meters hilly)
Male / Female : 16 – 29, 30 – 39, 40 – 49, 50 – 59 and 60 yrs. of age & above

Heavy Quarter Marathon 10.550 km. (800 meters hilly)
Male / Female : 29 yrs. of age & below, 30 – 39, 40 – 49, 50 – 59 and 60 yrs. of age & above

Walk & Fun Run 3 km.
Male / Female : Open with no age or gender categories

Awards
The first five runners to finish in each age group in the 21.100 km
and 10.550 km will be awarded trophies with cash prizes of Baht
as follows:
Heavy Half Marathon 21.100 km.
3,000 (1st place), 2,000 (2nd place), 1,500 (3rd place), 1,200 (4th place) and 1,000 (5th place)

Heavy Quarter Marathon 10.550 km.
2,000 (1st place), 1,500 (2nd place), 1,200 (3rd place),1,000 (4th place and 1,000 (5th place)

The 1st place male and female overall in the 21.100 km will receive a cash prize of 5,000 Baht instead of 3,000 Baht.

The 1st place male and female overall in the 10.550 km will receive a cash prize of 3,000 Baht instead of 2,000 Baht.

Souvenirs
All Runners participating will receive a beautiful Preserve Hua Hin T-shirt.

Commemorative Medals
The commemorative medals for all participants in every category will be given right after the finish line.

Five Free buses for runners
Round-trup transportation is available for all registered runers from Bangkok (in front of Lumpinee-Rachdamri Road) at 8.00 a.m. on Saturday, April 4. The destination is Hin Lek Fai Hill and will depart from Hua Hin (in front of the train station) to Bangkok at 11.00 a.m. on April 5. Any runner who wants to use this transportation must reserve their seat by 21 March.

Special service
Free shuttle bus from Hua Hin town (on racing day)
Free shuttle bus for runner from clock tower (in front of Hua Hin temple). First time at 4.30 a.m. and second time at 5.00 a.m.

Accommodations
Please contact:
Bann Hua Hin Resort Tel. 032-512 527
Hua Hin Mark Wind Lodge Tel. 086-339 9680 (Khun Tai)
Hua Hin Grand Tel. 032-513 230-4
City Beach Hotel Tel. 032-512 870-5
Narawan Hotel Tel. 032-526 390

Schedule
All race with bib number and souvenirs will be distributed on
Saturday, April 4, 12.00 p.m.- 07.00 p.m. or an hour before the
race begins at Hin Lek Fai Hill. (Start & Finish)

5.30 a.m. 21.100 km Heavy Half Marathon starts
6.00 a.m. 10.550 km Heavy Quarter Marathon starts
6.15 a.m. 3 km Walk & Fun Run starts
8.00 a.m. Awards ceremony
9.00 a.m. Closing ceremony

Registration
You can choose to register through the following channels.
Hua Hin
– The Hua Hin Municipality Office, telephone 032-511 041 Ext. 101-102
– The Preserve Hua Hin Group, telephone 032-536 536
Bangkok: Amazing Field Co., Ltd.
20/1 Soi Intamara 38, Sutthisarn Road, Din Daeng,
Bangkok 10400, telephone 0-2277 6670-1, fax 0-2277 2567
By e-mail at info@amazingfield.org or fax the payment voucher to Amazing Field, fax 0-2277 2567. Transfer payment to ‘Preserve Hua Hin Group’ account at Siam Commercial Bank’s Ekamai Branch, account number 078-2-29869-4.

Special Offer on Saturday, April 4, 2009
Runners can register early at Hin Lek Fai Hill from noon till 7.00 p.m. From 5.00 – 7.00 p.m., there will be live music by a local band and free food available for those who registered on that day.

Entry Fees
Heavy Half Marathon 21.100 km. 350 Baht
Heavy Quarter Marathon 10.550 km. 250 Baht
Walk & Fun Run 3 km. 200 Baht

Organizing Committee
The Preserve Hua Hin Group, Prachuab Khirikhan Province,
The Hua Hin Municipalit Office and Amazing Field Co., Ltd.

Parallels between Chiang Mai and Hua Hin

A reader forwards the below.  It was a Letter to the Editor in the Bangkok Post.  As the reader states “Some parallels.  Good we have sea breezes here.”

Post:

Living in Chiang Mai these last two months has been a bit like living in a garage with the car engine running, with the front port closed and with only small windows open high up for ventilation.

I use the garage analogy because it seems fashionable to blame the wood smoke from burning of forests and fields, to blame the Burmese and the Lao, the minorities and the farmers, rather than another major culprit for Chiang Mai’s dreadful air _ the dust and toxic gases created by traffic.

Developers have been and remain busy along the new middle and outer ring roads, tearing up rice fields in one place and filling them in another for housing projects, factories and shopping malls. A belt of new suburbia girds the city, and its inhabitants almost totally depend on the use of private motor transportation.

No one has yet been able to overcome the red songthaeo operators and the shadowy cooperative that organises them; apparently its members do not even have to have their vehicles checked.

This group and the powerful figures behind them present a major obstacle to setting up a rational bus system.

Chiang Mai has no organised mass transit bus system. No government has ever tried to set up an alternative to the use of private cars by massively funding a transportation agency and ensuring it has the powers to cut through the morass of different agencies and areas of administration within the city and the surrounding districts.

Thus, attempts to reduce traffic flow into the city and consequentially toxic emissions, have been almost non-existent, and the City Planning Department officials can only propose more road widening.

Micro-particles (particles of less than 10 microns) thought to seriously affect respiratory health, are increasingly reaching levels over 4 times the European safety standard of 50 microgrammes (per cubic metre/24 hours; the Thai standard is 120mg) during the dry and hot seasons.

With tens of thousands confirmed sick with respiratory problems and the numbers thought to be suffering from breathing ailments in excess of 100,000 people, and with lung cancer running at rates more than twice that of Bangkok and increasing, the medical facts speak for themselves.

Yes, the rains should come, the winds should blow, and for another season government officials will announce that p-10 levels are below the Thai safety standard.

Housing estate billboards portraying a dreamy green suburbia surrounded by mountains will continue to give public face to the ever growing lie.

The truth is breathing on Chiang Mai’s streets and arterial roads is unpleasant at most times year-round. For months on end you can barely see the mountains from the ring roads, if at all.

From sometime in January till whenever the rains start, the air in the city and much of the valley becomes extremely unhealthy, if not life-threatening. And it’s getting worse every year.

OLIVER HARGREAVE

The problem of air pollution from motorcycles in Hua Hin was addressed in 1996 by John Laird in the Observer and reprinted as One Man’s Opinion on The Hua Hin Pages at that time. The article by Laird remains the page with the most external links on The Hua Hin Pages. Things haven’t improved in 13 years.

h/t to the reader

US chemical weapons testing scandal in Thailand

I did a Google on Bo Fai today and discovered this little gem. I vaguely remember the story but in 1999 I had my mind on things other than Bo Fai.

This is from The World Socialist Web Site and I’m sure they don’t have any axe to grind…

US chemical weapons testing scandal in Thailand

By Steve Dean
25 June 1999

Details are continuing to emerge from Thailand of a growing scandal and cover-up involving the US and Thai military, environmental agencies and the Thai government, concerning US chemical weapons testing in Thailand in 1964-65.
Science, Technology and Environmental Minister Suvit Khunkitti has received documents from the US Ambassador to Thailand confirming that Agent Orange and other chemicals were tested by the military in Pran Buri and Bo Fai. US officials, however, insist that no chemicals were dumped haphazardly after the tests were completed.
Khunkitti said details of the Thai Defense Ministry’s involvement in the operations would remain secret. PCD chief Saksit Tridech backed his minister, saying, “it is the Defense Ministry’s policy not to reveal details about these chemical tests to the public”.
The scandal began to develop in late February, when a chemical dump was unearthed at Bo Fai airport in Hua Hin, during the construction of a runway. Immediately the government and its official environmental agency, the Pollution Control Department (PCD) went into damage control, denying that there was any evidence to suggest that Agent Orange was present in the soil. The greater likelihood, they claimed, was that the chemicals were paint solvents.
When soil samples were sent to the US and Canada for dioxin tests (Thailand does not possess the technology for these tests) contradictions began to appear in the official media releases. Director General of the Department of Medical Sciences, Renu Koysuko, confirmed that derivatives of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, two major dioxins contained in Agent Orange, were discovered in soil recovered from Bo Fai airport. This conflicted with earlier claims from the Agricultural Department and the US Environmental Protection Agency that no such chemicals were evident in the soil.
The US dumped more than 19 million gallons of Agent Orange, a defoliant, on Indochina during the Vietnam War. Nearly three kilograms of such toxic chemicals were used per head of the Vietnamese population. Health authorities estimate that up to 50,000 children have been born with birth defects as a result.
This chemical saturation was one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the US military, dwarfing the use of poisonous gases in World War One. The US military aimed not just to defoliate the jungle but also destroy the crops that fed the Vietnamese people. The entire country’s environment was destroyed and is still recovering to this day. US soldiers were also affected, with 250,000 suspected cases of toxic harm.
The comprehensive use of chemical weapons violated the 1925 Geneva Protocol that prohibited “the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases”. The 1907 Hague Convention also forbade the use of poison or poisoned weapons.
Agent Orange and other dioxins are extremely hazardous to human beings. The US EPA has admitted that there is no safe exposure level. US National Cancer Institute tests have proved that dioxins cause fetal death and deformity, miscarriage, chromosome damage and cancer. In a recent study, the Cancer Institute proved that humans with a high exposure to dioxins (TCDD) have a 60 percent greater risk of dying from cancer. The presence of other herbicidal chemicals magnified the effects.
There is evidence of birth defects in Thailand. A textbook Environment and Ecology, written in the early 1970s by Kasetsart University lecturer Somchit Pongpangan, who participated in the research at Bo Fai and Pran Buri, shows that 20 local villagers were employed at the test site. One of them, a woman, who used to collect filters known to be contaminated with Agent Orange, gave birth to a child with an abnormal chest bone.
The identity and whereabouts of the woman and her family are unknown, but this evidence begs the question of how many more victims there are in Thailand, particularly among those who worked in and around the various military bases. Further chemical dumps are likely to exist. Agent Orange was sprayed from light planes, so that runways and chemical supply bases could have been set up anywhere. Thailand was also one of the US military’s most important supply routes during the war.
Moreover, the land at Pran Buri has been turned into prime agricultural land, raising serious health concerns for the inhabitants. Recent events in Belgium have shown how easily dioxins can be spread throughout the food chain.
In addition, Hua Hin is an extremely busy tourist resort. Among Thais it is the most popular holiday destination. The Tourism Authority of Thailand expressed its horror but, fearing a backlash from tourists and damage to the business community, suggested that the chemicals in the soil could not be “as nasty as some people imagine”.
In an attempt to contain the scandal, the Thai government has established a working group, containing government scientists and PCD officials. Its ability to unearth the truth has already been thrown into doubt by the Thai military’s insistence on keeping secret its part in the operations. As for Washington, its interests in ensuring a cover-up are all the greater in the light of the toxic damage inflicted on Yugoslavia over the past two months.

It’s been 10 years so it’s probably all dissipated by now, right? And we know that TAT is looking after our best interests…