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Tuk-tuk drivers gathered outside Kathu Police Station early today

UPDATE Phuket Tuk-Tuk Revolt: Patong Drivers Block Roads, Surround Police Station

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
UPDATE

The protest ended soon after 8.30am with police agreeing not to charge four illegal taxi drivers who had been arrested as part of a ''sting'' operation.

Original Report

PHUKET: The tuk-tuk drivers of Patong shut down the road system in Phuket's main holiday hub from midnight in an extraordinary protest about what they claim is ''police harassment.''

Blockades in the one-way system's main beach road, Nanai Road and Rat-U-Tit 200 Pi Road and the walking street of Bangla Road began at midnight and continued to 5am, when the drivers moved to Kathu Police Station, which oversees Patong, to negotiate.

About 50 tuk-tuks and 100 drivers blocked the area around the police station as talks continued early today.

According to one source, the tuk-tuk drivers, joined by some ''black'' cab drivers, were unhappy because police have been conducting ''sting'' operations posing as tourists.

The police have discovered that the tuk-tuk drivers are working hand in glove with the illegal cabbies to undermine the legal registered taxi system, according to the source.

Drivers are known to have become increasingly agitated at a police campaign to remove thugs and weapons from the tuk-tuk transport business that is the source of most complaints from tourists.

A campaign to persuade drivers to adapt began with a series of lectures from Phuket Governor Maitree Intrusud and continued with police conducting random raids on tuk-tuk ranks.

Disputes continue to flourish over access of minivans and tour company vehicles to resorts in Patong and all along Phuket's popular west coast.

European Union ambassadors and Chinese envoys have urged Phuket authorities to reform Phuket's primitive transport system or face a bleaker future, with visitors likely to go elsewhere in Thailand rather than be ripped off with excessive fares for poor service.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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I hope they are angry because they police are doing their job and not because the police want more money from them.

Posted by rc on March 4, 2014 07:53

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Just looking at the picture of the slovenly dressed mugs. It's a problem that will require BKK to solve as it appears this M-group has more muscle than the police.

Posted by Hotgem on March 4, 2014 08:06

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@rc - i hope you are right - and if it is because they are doing their jobs well done to them. The TUK TUK drivers have had their own way too long. Its time it ends.

Posted by Ciaran on March 4, 2014 08:22

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As stated by rc, do they really think they can mob rule & ride roughshod over the police?

Posted by Logic on March 4, 2014 08:26

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I have information, that some tourists missed their flight (TG226 at 07:25). If airline company refuses to change their ticket and they have to buy new ones, who should compensate??? Police, who can't clean the road? Tuk-tuk mafia, who blocked it? Or senior official, who promised last year thet there will not be any block roads here anymore? Shame on this stupidity from all sides!

Posted by Stranger on March 4, 2014 08:28

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This thuggish & petulant behaviour has to stop, why arent the police arresting them!?

Posted by paul on March 4, 2014 08:56

Editor Comment:

Why aren't you down there, helping!

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Don't ya just love the way things get done around here...same old question comes up>...who exactly is in charge around here?

Posted by sky on March 4, 2014 09:39

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tow trucks!!!

Posted by bill on March 4, 2014 09:53

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As a private non Thai, i do not have the power to make such arrests..... As you well know.

I do however, advise ALL my clients to not use these thieves & will not be bullied by them.

What have you done Alan??

Posted by paul on March 4, 2014 10:40

Editor Comment:

Me? I've hosed down the idea of hastening confrontation and violence that is sometimes encouraged by people who have nothing to lose themselves, paul. Arrests trigger anger and violence. They do not address the issue.

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I was in Patong last night and wanted to go towards Phuket town. No way as they blocked all roads leading out from Patong. There was no one coming in nor out. It was not just blocking the police station. I called the police 191 and the guy said: We can't do anything because of Tuk-Tuk Mafia, which he repeated about 10 times. Later on a Police car came up the hill, saw the crowd stopped and turned back, that was it.

Posted by Discolight on March 4, 2014 11:52

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..... and the tail continues to wag the dog. Some reporting indicates that they tuk tuk drivers want rid of the current police chief - apparently he must be doing his job. I'd rather Patong stood still for a few nights and these parasites were sorted out than he backs down.

Mr Ed seems to support 'peaceful' demonstrations though - I wonder if this would still be the case if he were trapped in Patong last night?.

Posted by Mister Ree on March 4, 2014 12:47

Editor Comment:

What we don't encourage, Mister Ree, is violence. Any number of anonymous commenters on this site are prepared to encourage others to put themselves in harm's way. That doesn't seem quite right to us.

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again a stupid comment by editor (see answer to Paul). It is police business to clear the road not civilian. Very easy to understand by eveyone but ,clear, not so easy for editor.

Posted by Anonymous on March 4, 2014 12:52

Editor Comment:

A bold comment, so easy for Anonymous No. 1436. And such a waste of everybody's time.

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@Ed, your reply to paul has me scratching my head, I'm not quite sure what you are on about, as we all know first it is the police responsibility, secondly I assume paul is a foreigner and without a work permit can not "help."

Posted by Laurie Howells on March 4, 2014 12:59

Editor Comment:

You may have missed the follow-up exchange, Laurie, in your rush to interfere - I'm sorry, intervene.

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This reminds me of the time not long ago when our super i know all dear Editor told us that DSI will clean up the island... what a joke....... He will sure have an bad taste in my mouth answer to this, or moderate me, telling me am a domsayer or that i should go out doing the polices job.... but whatever. let me be a domsayer, no problem for me coz this shows much more real power than any police ever shown on this god forsaken island have... i think even tho my english isnt very well written that i dont have to explain much more than that. have a nice day....

Posted by frog on March 4, 2014 13:20

Editor Comment:

How odd, frog. The police take some action in a 'sting', and you complain. The police take no action, and you complain. It's good to see that whatever they do, you're on their side.

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Exactly - no work permit, for this kind of work, so cannot physically help.
Inaction fuels & reinforces the behaviour!

Posted by paul on March 4, 2014 13:45

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wow ed. out of good comments as usual... when did i complain about Police doing their job?? i complain about them Not doing their job.. but letting thugs and similar still doing theirs.. take ur bullshit elsewhere... U went on for ages how much of a differnce DSI would do and i was on the same page as u on that but yet ur not again the only one with kwowledge about thailand and Patong.. there are people been here longer than u and doing diffrent thingss than u sitting behind a desk and pooking ur noose thinking all is what u think.. its not always the case. and i am not talking about myself so dont go there. i talking about all the people u reject and calling doomsayers or simply offending.. But u might being to old to remember a few month ago that u said that DSI will make a difference. well have they? the only ones that show action effective as ??the real Maffia would do`is the Tuk Tuk s and taxi drivers.. u still think that DSI will come and clean this shitty mess up? i dont gonna call u Wanker as someone else did but u are a f**** besserwisser .. i think i will get moderated or full of bullshit response as usual... still have a nice day tho..

Posted by frog on March 4, 2014 14:09

Editor Comment:

Insults achieve nothing, frog. The police arrested four drivers, and that didn't make you happy. Left to you, nothing would ever change.

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Have the DSI now left the island? ;-)

Posted by Duncan on March 4, 2014 15:13

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Another way....i would have the tax department start looking at all the tuk tuk drivers individual assets, incomes and expenditure and start hitting them with massive tax bills for the past 20 years - put the frighteners up them pronto

Posted by The Tax Man on March 4, 2014 15:39

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A 20% increase in the minimum agreed tuk-tuk fares system would go a long way to resolving this crisis.

Posted by Somsak Public Relations on March 4, 2014 15:47

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I have also read that the police superintendent from Patong has been transferred out of Patong as per the request of Tuk Tuk drivers. It is official - Phuket is doomed. There will be no change here.

Posted by Ciaran on March 4, 2014 16:03

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I don't care if you don't publish this comment . . . .

Posted by Straight Talker on March 4, 2014 16:12

Editor Comment:

Great! We only publish worthwhile stuff.

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Yes I have to agree with the criticism of the editor's premature and immature 'I told the doomsdayers things are changing on the Island' article. As if there is ample proof in the fact that TTuks are now blocking the streets, that they still park wherever they want, and the DSI have been and gone.

Posted by geoff on March 4, 2014 16:14

Editor Comment:

Ah, it's doomsayer geoff, concentrating on the trees and ignoring the wood.

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Arresting illegal drivers promote violence? And hence we should let them get what they want? Imagine how will everywhere else in the world be....if police can not handle peace disturbers.

Posted by Thai in Phuket on March 4, 2014 16:19

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I pity the children / teenagers who recklessly ride motor bikes to school alongside lorries and trucks who drive just as reckless themselves.. it makes me wonder how many of their parents are local taxi drivers and are against a plan to improve public transportation.

Posted by Thai in Phuket on March 4, 2014 17:11

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@ Ed. The protest ended soon after 8.30am with police agreeing not to charge four illegal taxi drivers who had been arrested as part of a ''sting'' operation." no am not no am not happy. funny that u seems to be happy with this. let me straight something clear hear dear ED, its a compliment for u that people still reading and comment PW. u should understand that coz no one in ur position i ever seen before has a view like urs
. how can u be happy with this, only because u said something before and thats something u cant change ya? u couls say, " well it seems like we where littel to optimistic about DSI, still no changes but things getting worse. The Police has to drop charges for criminal action by treath that it would get worse. wher the hack did u find ur hat Mr. Morrison... this is absolutely unbelievable.... and why do u not answer the question? do u still think DSI will make a change? don't hide behind " we have to beleive that" coz u are the one that still saying things like that so ur personal answer. do u? i personally talked to several polices last night and they all say " we cannot do anything about this.. the tuk tuk maffia is to strong and to many. hows that?

Posted by frog on March 4, 2014 17:54

Editor Comment:

Change is inevitable and only you, frog, seems to think that every day is going to be just like the one before it. So you lock in your own fate to yesterday, and the day before that. No need to keep babbling on. You know what tomorrow will hold, and the day after that. Cheerlead for the tuk-tuks all you like, just don't include the rest of us, please.

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well..one thing is clear for sure...if any procedures, or laws or questions about whether someone is doing or not doing their job right as well as whether or not that person should continue working in such a position..or be fired or transferred...
then the people we need to consult the tuk tuk drivers and let them make all decisions final...as it appears that jobs such as police chief, mayor, governor, etc are just glorified titles that that don't actually have any authority that goes with the job.
Also it appears that the public has no voting or say as to who is in charge of the tuk tuk group..as they appoint themselves...Is this a dictatorship then?..as I'm confuesed as to what kind of political system we live in here.

Posted by sky on March 4, 2014 18:06

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still no answer. mupp.

Posted by frog on March 4, 2014 18:57

Editor Comment:

Would you prefer me to deal in insults, as you do, rather than logic? Groundhog Day . . . no thanks.

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A 20% increase in the minimum agreed tuk-tuk fares system would go a long way to resolving this crisis.

Posted by Somsak Public Relations

I am assuming this is someone related to the tuk tuk outfit trying once again to hold the island to ransom. Get real.

Meter taxis in Bangkok are cheaper. In Korat, Chiang Mai & I am sure many other major cities, song taews are available for a modest 10-20 baht.

The thuggery of the Phuket tuk tuks is legendary. They have never allowed any public bus service or anything such as song taews to run up the west coast. They have blockaded major resorts. Now they blockade Patong & routes to the airport. Their behavior towards the police sums up their attitude.

I am sure everyone is fed up with them.

Posted by Logic on March 4, 2014 19:17

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I think the bottom line in this whole mess is that the TUK TUK Mafia has won and have shown they run the show. Its sad to think this is the case but it is. The DSI came here for show in a typical Thai way - make it look like we are really doing something but do nothing. Phuket is doomed when the police prove they have no power to take them on but instead bow down to them - cave to their demands. The current anti government protesters in Phuket who want to make a change might better look at this situation here and think in order to change things lets start with our own back yard and clean that up first. But instead they sit around Provincial Hall keeping that closed. Peoples priorities are completely screwed up on this island. Time for change ? Restart Bangkok - screw that - Restart Phuket

Posted by Ciaran on March 4, 2014 20:26

Editor Comment:

So time will stand still and nothing will ever change in the future, Ciaran. You say Phuket is doomed, and the next minute you are calling for a ''Restart Phuket'' movement. Best end your own confusion first, perhaps.

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@Ed, I was simply stating I had trouble understanding your comment.
However I think you labelled me incorrectly: on both accounts
Interfere
1. prevent (a process or activity) from continuing or being carried out properly
2. take part or intervene in an activity without invitation or necessity

intervene
1. come between so as to prevent or alter a result or course of events

I may not be a journalist, but I do know what words mean.

Posted by Laurie Howells on March 4, 2014 20:33

Editor Comment:

Please look up ''contribute'' and ''ideas'' and work the two together in your next essay.

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It might come as a shock that on one thing I agree 100% with ed.. Change is inevitable, to make a statement like this doesn't take an "Einstein", change has always taken place, well before man walked the earth, it's a very "safe" comment to make, because you can not be wrong and you are not committed. Where I, and I guess I am not alone, differ with Ed is we live in the present and would like change soon, not in a millennia. As we see today, again what appeared to be "change" fail miserably with the police caving in to the tuk tuk mafia. We have not heard from the DSI (Don't Seriously Investigate" unit who seem to have run off, although I guess we could see an announcement that investigations are on hold due to the political turmoil. They always have an excuse. But hey... Change is inevitable...

Posted by Laurie Howells on March 4, 2014 20:54

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As always, Ed has his pink glasses on.

Posted by Charles on March 4, 2014 22:20

Editor Comment:

At least my eyes are open, Charles.

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looks to me like too many tuk tuks and not enough customers.

Posted by mikey on March 4, 2014 22:40

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The police are doing there job we protest vigorously there not meant to catch us doing anything wrong we are a protected species ok lets block the town roads and strangle the economic life blood of every business here that will fix everything.

Posted by slickmelb on March 4, 2014 23:35

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The only system that works is "1 sheriff in town", locally (tuk tuks and police share it), nationally (army), and globally (currently USA)
It's a tough job to be Police, so to counterbalance that they get to extort businesses vendors & expats primarily
The tuk tuks et al monopolize and overcharge tourists mostly & expats to some degree
If they just stay on their turf these problems won't exist
Since the tuk tuks are much nastier about how they extort money, they should be controlled by the army
Declare Martial Law, bring in Tanks, bulldozers & machine guns...some killings & crushed Tuk tuks for a few months & they will decide parking in a special area & opening up parking and traffic lanes & being dispatched to extort their money will be acceptable to them
But the concept of fair capitalism will never flourish here until their egos & minds are brought into the 20th century & they decide they want to actually work & compete with harder working, more polite, cheaper services..so never

Posted by Bob on March 5, 2014 00:28

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@Ed. Clearly I have done both, contributed and given "ideas" as has many of your of commenters. The problem is we all differ on "ideas" that is how progress is made, unless you prefer dictatorship where only one person contributes with only their own ideas.

Contribute: to write (something, such as a story, poem, or essay) for a magazine

Idea: : an opinion or belief.

Do I get a gold star for this "essay?"

Posted by Laurie Howells on March 5, 2014 07:43

Editor Comment:

Almost every comment is about you, Laurie. Get over yourself. Try to dealing with issues, not ego. Please.

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I am delighted to no longer be at the mercy of the Phuket oligarchy, nor subject to the institutionalized lawlessness that characterized Patong. Despite all the promises and ultimatums and timelines set, nothing positive has really occurred. The old saying of buyer beware holds true for those foreigners foolish enough to purchase property in the region or visit. The tuk tuk protests are icing on the cake for a region with chronic potable water supply shortages, traffic jams, pollution, and a cost of living 25% higher than other more hospitable parts of Thailand. The locals have screwed it up and they are welcome to their mess.

Posted by Ryan on March 5, 2014 07:48

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It's all a bit confusing really. There is a problem with the behavior of the tuk tuk drivers, the DSI comes to town, there are meetings, there are speeches from the governor, the police say they will crack down. They do exactly that and arrests are made. The tuk tuk drivers protest, block the streets and surround the police station. Isn't this where the police are supposed to call for support and disperse the crowd and make further arrests if required? Instead they choose to release the arrested tuk tuk drivers. As paul said, this behavior is thuggish and petulant and due to the lack of an appropriate response the cycle will continue. If nothing changes, nothing changes.

Posted by Pete on March 5, 2014 08:00

Editor Comment:

Indeed. A strategic response is needed with a plan in place to deal with predictable events, like this one. Until there's a realistic strategy, the situation will leave Phuket with only a short-term tourism future. It's high time the authorities moved beyond public lectures and photo opportunities. Fix it now, before the new airport opens.

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Brave enough to stay the same.

Posted by bill on March 5, 2014 09:53

Editor Comment:

Brave enough not to waste anybody's time on pointless cynicism. Why do so many no-hopers end up in Thailand?

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Illegal drivers and Tuk-Tuk drivers are blocking the roads and are protesting about the police nabbing law breakers? Phuket really is lawless, the local mobs rule here. What's next? Drug dealers blocking the street because some of them got arrested? The slow loris touts doing the same?

Posted by christian on March 5, 2014 10:44

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So in other words what we have here is a FUBAR situation on Phuket?

Posted by Duncan B on March 5, 2014 12:03

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The Tuk Tuk rip-off and poor public transport are the main reasons why I will not be visiting Phuket again. There are so many better places in the Kingdom to visit. Not only is the transport cheaper, so is the food, beer and accommodation. I spent my last holiday in Chiang Mai and in April I'll be going to Pattaya for the first time for two weeks.

Posted by Diffo on March 5, 2014 12:56

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"Why do so many no-hopers end up in Thailand?"... Firstly, long time reader first time responder. Well done with the site, and for all the perceived antagonistic responses you make Ed, the recipients keep coming back for more so what do you do? I reckon you've hit the nail on the head with the response/question above and needs some more attention and discussion. I first went to Phuket as a bright eyed kid about 5-6 years ago and loved it so much that I came back 8 more times since, everytime with a new bright eyed friend to feel that same experience I did those first couple of times. The fact I keep up to date with what's happening there must show the place left its mark! But unfortunately the continual "minor" incidents that occurred with Tuk Tuks, hotel workers, restaurants, etc as well as starting to see more and more of the slightly darker side of some parts of Phuket took their toll and I thought enough was enough and started looking elsewhere. The problem is I started to warn others, and whether I shouldn't have done so or not is beside the point, I saw the people asking for advice and made a judgement call on if they fitted into the Phuket it is/was becoming. I wasn't putting my name against Phuket... The question you ask about no-hopers is spot on. A much larger percentage of people going to Phuket are indeed "no-hopers" than I encountered in my first couple of trips. They are there specifically for the darker side and not for the brighter side, the tours, the islands, the wonderful food and drink! Those no-hopers are the ones the quality tourists want to avoid... And I know they are everywhere, but they are much more obvious in Phuket. The people looking for quality holidays are now going elsewhere where their presence is welcome as opposed to Phuket where there presence is often treated with expectation and too many times disdain, or at the very least it felt so. I so want Phuket to stop going backwards in its treatment of tourists, but it will be tough going while a lot of the tourists now going there are treating Phuket equally as badly. A massive change in temperament by all sides needs to occur for it to happen, but unfortunately the increase in desire to go to places like Cambodia, Vietnam by the quality tourists means they are a long way behind now. I know I haven't added any ideas but I just wanted to give my own insight as well as wish Ed good luck with the journey, without the questions being asked nothing will change. It's not too late, but Phuket is starting from a little way back unfortunately.

Posted by Baysie on March 5, 2014 18:54

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So many negative comments on you ED !
Aint you gonna block them to from comment here ??
Just like what you have done with me and many others

Posted by jorgen48 on March 5, 2014 22:10

Editor Comment:

We ask our readers to contribute ideas and information, jorgen48. If you don't have any ideas or information, you have nothing to offer. I couldn't care less what you or any other reader thinks of me. It's not important.

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I've always said tuc tucs will be the downfall of Phuket, especially after being nearly killed by one who was blind drunk, ( I realized too late on Karon hill), and another time by a very aggressive man who practically threw me out of the cab coming into Patong as he didn't want to go any further. Two Thai girls helped me up and gave him a mouthful, but that ended Phuket for me. After years of paying condo rent which is more expensive than the French Riviera, bad food in restaurants who are taking the Mickey out of foreigners, I decided to call it a day. Now I am somewhere where transport is super cheap, I can go shopping and visit all the places I like when I like, a super condo with a great pool, half the price of Phuket condos, good hospitals and tasty cheap restaurants ! Ok, the beaches are a bit iffy, but , don't worry about that one, Phukets once lovely beaches are quickly going the way of the dinosaurs , extinct !

Posted by Elizabeth on March 5, 2014 23:54

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Let them make a stand as long as they want.....the longer these tuk tuks are stationary the more it will hurt their pockets...we all know how much these drivers cherish their little LED lit boom boxes so why not call in the Military to move these things...they have nothing better to do than sue others

Posted by Ty on March 6, 2014 07:02

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actually not in Phuket. You are right. Change is inevitable. Question remains what kind of change. I'm full of hope.

Posted by bill on March 6, 2014 09:57

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Oh just build a bigger Jail house, Get the Military in there and throw them in one at a time. Places like Mexico use military every night to ensure that tourist safety is a priority in their areas. And Mexico is lousy compared to Thailand.

Posted by John on March 7, 2014 19:35

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Why cant we have same 20 baht
Buses like Pattayya.

Posted by Anonymous on March 25, 2014 15:55

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The tuk tuks are revolting Ed we already know!

Posted by slickmelb on April 1, 2014 00:21


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