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Dr Johannes Peterlik shares a joke and some ideas about Phuket

Aus Ambassador Questions Phuket 'Nightlife'

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
AUSTRIA is, of course, noted for its kangaroos and meat pies . . . oops, sorry. We've made the mistake so many Thais make, including officials, of confusing the grand European country with the sports-mad southern continent.

While we've heard of tourists bound for Sydney, Australia, turning up in Sydney, Canada, we haven't yet heard of tourists bound for Australia ending up in Austria.

But it could happen, especially if the two embassies in Bangkok that get so many wrong-address documents processed them instead of correcting the mistakes.

Even the program on this computer automatically throws an extra ''al'' into the word, making it difficult to tell the difference.

However, Dr Johannes Peterlik does not look like a man raised on meat pies, and his legs are not bowed from pursuing kangaroos.

Thailand's newly-appointed Ambassador of Austria is 42, and virtually born for the role. He speaks fluent Thai.

''I grew up in Thailand,'' he told Phuketwan today as he concluded a three-day visit to the island with his parents.

''My father was ambassador from 1976 to '81. I went to school in Bangkok and I spent holidays with my parents here in Phuket in the '70s.''

Being a diplomat, he measured his words carefully.

''When I compare Phuket 30 years ago to Phuket today, I would say . . . there has been huge development. Phuket is a rich province today. Tourism was helpful in raising the income of Phuket people.

''On the other hand you have the sad development of visitors coming for sex tourism. It's something that throws a shadow over the island.

''The island has a beautiful nature, beautiful resources . . . a lot of things that would be nice to develop in an eco-friendly, high class way.

''When I was a child, Phuket was still a very natural island with friendly people who lived and worked here in the fields, with the beaches left to nature.''

Dr Johannes praised Thais for their friendliness and helpfulness whenever Austrians found themselves in trouble.

''This is something that needs to be promoted, I think,'' he said. ''A lot of people are not so aware of the fact that Thai people always try to help foreigners and be friendly to them.

''This is very pleasant and Thais should be proud of that.''

About 70,000 to 80,000 Austrians visit Thailand each year, he said. There was no concern in any way about the safety of tourists in Thailand or on Phuket, he added.

But he did suggest the Thai government should consider whether elderly visitors should be obliged to take out health insurance before being granted a visa, largely for their own protection.

''Thailand is famous for its beaches, its friendly people, and for its beautiful resorts,'' he said. ''These are the things that attract what I would call the normal tourist: people interested in your culture, your beautiful landscape and beaches.

''The other part of the tourist business is the people who are not interested in these things, only interested in nightlife tourism. This part of tourism is a little more difficult to handle.

''These people sometimes bring all of us more problems because they have different interests. They bring problems for the Thai authorities and they bring problems to the embassies.''

Nature or the nightlife? Which is the magnet for Phuket? Or perhaps some visitors come for a bit of both? Now there's a debate to keep a Soi Bangla bar occupied until closing time, or even, last week at least, until 4am or even 6am.

And that is, of course, the perfect time to catch a beautiful natural sunrise down on the beach.

As for the nightlife only people, perhaps it's those pesky Australians, still being confused with the clean-living, nature loving Austrians . . .

Just joking. Experience has taught us that people are the same the world over, despite occasional confusion.

'''Austria is in Europe, Australia is in the south of Thailand,'' the ambassador said, just to clear up the geography. '''Austria, no kangaroos.' It's very easy to remember.''
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Comments

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Very nice article.

Posted by lynnelevim on December 15, 2009 14:11

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Thank you for that nice info+nice written article !!! and very welcome the NEW Austrian Ambassador.

Posted by Klaus on December 15, 2009 15:37

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Sunrise on Patong Beach? You were drunk right? :)
I would recommend cape yamu with mosquito spray...

But nature in Phuket? Last time I checked a book about beautiful Phuket in Central Bookshop, besides old Phuket City only pictures of Phang Nga and Krabi. That tells a lot. You want nature, better go there. Phuket become a full resort destination with big party sexy golfing.

Posted by Lena on December 15, 2009 15:41


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