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Phuket monk at a ceremony for the Big Buddha on Nakkerd Hill

Phuket's Big Buddha Tops With Tourists

Friday, August 29, 2008
Friday TRENDS

CABLE CAR or not, Phuket's Big Buddha is already attracting record numbers of tourists and donations.

Monday to Friday, more than 600 people a day are making the trek up the improved road to the top of Nakkerd Hill, in Chalong.

On Saturdays and Sundays, the daily total approaches 1000 people.

As Phuketwan suggested many months ago, the Big Buddha now only ranks behind the beaches and the reefs as Phuket's main tourist attraction.

The building part of the project will be completed at the end of the year, with the fitting out of the exhibition centre and landscaping to follow.

Suporn Vanichkul, president of the construction foundation, says many trees and flowers will be planted because trees had to be cut down to make space for the project.

Already, nine monks from nine different provinces live alongside the Big Buddha and often pray with Buddhists who make the six kilometre trip up from Chao Fa Road West.

About 1.5 million to two million baht is coming in donations each month. The total cost of the Big Buddha alone will be about 100 million.

Donations that come after the finish of the project will go towards maintenance and the payment of staff at shops on the summit, Khun Suporn said.

About 40 percent of the tourists who visit the Big Buddha are farang.

Khun Suporn said he did not have an opinion about the Patong-to-Big Buddha cable car suggestion and would be happy with any decision made by the Forestry Department, which would need to approve construction.

Representatives from one of several companies that wish to build a cable car were to meet Phuket's Governor this week.

Phuket Artist Takes on Manhattan

ONE OF the most unusual stories from the little-celebrated Phuket art scene has emerged this week, and from an unlikely source.

It's a case of an unsung but passionate artist from Phuket taking on a slightly more significant island, Manhattan.

We are indebted to those business news experts, bloomberg.com, for being able to tell you about self-taught Ana Tzarev, 72, who started painting 16 years ago and now maintains studios at her homes in Phuket and La Fleur du Cap, her estate on the French Riviera.

Bloomberg reports that Tzarev says she is in front of her easel from 8am until sunset, except for a lunch break with Robert Chandler, her husband of 52 years.

Tzarev makes the pages of Bloomberg because her son, billionaire investor Richard Chandler, 49, is helping his mother to ''break into Manhattan's clubby art scene'' by spending up to $US4 million on the long-term lease of a large gallery to sell her paintings.

According to Forbes magazine's 2008 billionaires list, Chandler and his brother, Christopher, are tied as the 707th richest men in the world, each worth an estimated $1.7 billion.

The arrival of a so-called vanity gallery at the prestigious address in New York has rankled other ''serious'' dealers, Bloomberg reports. But Tzarev is having none of it.

''I don't care what anybody thinks of what I do,'' she told the Bloomberg's Lindsay Pollock. Tzarev has completed about 3000 paintings and she says: ''It's something that takes hold inside of me. I can't help it.''

The original Chandler fortune was made in retail in New Zealand and parlayed into billions, but that's another story.

We look forward to meeting the artist in her Phuket studio one of these days to admire her style.

Golf Day for Charity

PATONG Rotary, often at the forefront of charitable work on the island, is running a golf and buffet dinner day on Sunday to benefit a child in need of heart surgery.

The format is a Texas Scramble, in which members of each awesome foursome play the best ball. There are team prizes and donated wine for the meal.

Some tee times after 1pm are still available. Give Khun Jeab a call on 076 325402 for some fun island networking.

Look for
TRENDS
every day, Monday to Friday, at Phuketwan. It's essential reading. To tell us your news, email bigislandmedia@gmail.com or telephone 081 6513489.

Latest
TRENDS
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Look for
TRENDS
every day, Monday to Friday, at Phuketwan. It's essential reading. To tell us your news, email bigislandmedia@gmail.com or telephone 081 6513489.

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