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Reaching out to visitors, vendors greet US military personnel today

Phuket Taxi Truce Greets US Warship Visitors

Saturday, November 13, 2010
THE FIRST US military visitors landed on Phuket this afternoon from the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu to be greeted with outstretch arms by locals.

Having endured three blockades by taxi drivers in the past during visits by US warships, arrangements have changed at the deep sea port to make discontent among taxi and tuk-tuk drivers less likely.

The process is now more open, with visiting personnel clearly having the option of taking local transport if they wish, or boarding a bus.

Some of the crew of the Peleliu stopped on Phuket in 2006 and were familiar with the island, said Douglas H. Robinson, Chief, Navy Security, Force Protection Detachment.

He met this week with local authorities to make the five-day MWR (morale, welfare, recreation) visit work as smoothly as possible and was at the port today to see that all went well.

Taxi driver Thongchai Linsakul, who lives near Phuket's east coast deep sea port, said he remembered the times 20 years ago when there were only four taxi drivers in the district.

These days, he said, there are about 300. Virtually everyone with a vehicle is a taxi driver.

While Khun Thongchai could recall an exceedingly good era as recently as 10 years ago when he could make 10,000 baht in a day, given the levels of competition, that kind of money may now be beyond reach.

Khun Thongchai said that the problem in modern Phuket was that the taxi drivers now outnumbered the customers, summing up in a sentence the core issue that has Phuket authorities stumped for public transport solutions.

A quick check by Phuketwan revealed that the going rate for a taxi ride one-way from the deep sea port to Patong, the west coast pleasure zone about 30 minutes away, was 1000 baht to 1200 baht.

A tour of some of the Phuket's attractions and a return to the port could be had by the Peleliu's crew of 960 or the 1900 Marines on board for between 1500 baht and 2000 baht.

Not quite 10,000 baht, but not bad for a taxi driver. Left without the choice of catching a bus are, of course, all Phuket residents and visiting tourists who wish to travel from Point A to Point B after dark.

The local sales stalls at the dock, selling such items as SIM cards, souvenirs, food and sunglasses, are all rented to local vendors at 50 baht a day, a figure more in keeping with reality and commonsense.

Among the taxi drivers this afternoon and just as keen to talk to the sailors and Marines were a group from Sri Panwa, a five-star villa resort on a headland not far from the deep sea port.

After four months at sea, many of the sailors and Marines will be keen to sink their heads into pillows and quality linen.

Fortunate taxi drivers, along with other tourism-related businesses on Phuket, are expected to enjoy a five-day injection of thousands of hard-earned dollars into the local economy.
Phuket Set for Visit by US Warship, Marines
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Phuket Gains Visits by US Military Vessels
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Phuket Gains Visits by US Military Vessels

Phuket Manhunt for Expat Killer: Englishman Knifes American to Death After Fight in Bar
Security Cam Shot of Alleged Killer A massive manhunt was on across Phuket today for an Englishman who fled after knifing an American to death at a southern resort.
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Phuket Taxi Blockades Bring Government Action
Breaking News Three incidents involving the blockading of US Navy personnel by Phuket taxi and tuktuk drivers have led to the formation of a special committee to oversee future visits.
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Latest Out of the blue come two US warships on a surprise visit to Phuket, just in time for Valentines Day. Is the US Navy really in love with the holiday island, or happy to settle for a fling?
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Phuket Joins the US Navy: Take Our Photo Tour
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Phuket Joins the US Navy: Take Our Photo Tour


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Is that 1,000 - 1200 baht per sailor, or per tuktuk, travelling to Patong?

Is the bus option a govt-run bus, which stops service to Patong at 6pm? If so, isn't it highly ineffective, since a typical tourist wants to spend his days at the beach and his nights in the city? Let's hear THAT price, so the tuk-tuk price will be that much more obviously ridiculous.

Or is the bus a rent-a-car, run as a free service by Navy support persons, shuttling Navy 'round the island during their stay? This program has been run very effectively elsewhere.

It's sad to see that the US Navy has given in in any way to the extortionately pricey tuktuk mafia.

Posted by Tired of the act on November 14, 2010 16:42

Editor Comment:

The buses are private and supplied for the use of US personnel. We presume the service will run day and night across the island. From what we saw, taxis seem to be used more than tuk-tuks.

Monday March 4, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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