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People wear even less on Bondi beach than they do at Phuket's Patong beach

Phuket Tourism Team Checks Out Bondi Beach

Tuesday, September 21, 2010
AUSTRALIA is brilliant in springtime, full of crisp days free from the humidity and sweat of Phuket.

Why is it called Down Under? Things are topsy-turvy here, especially when it comes to the relationship between men and women. The country currently has a female Prime Minister, Britain's Queen is still the Head of State and the Queen's representative in Australia is also a woman.

The two states we are visiting, New South Wales and Queensland, like Thai provinces except much larger, are also run by women.

The flight on V Australia is excellent, with two meals served along the way. The aircraft is new and the crew are friendly. In Brisbane we switch to Virgin Blue and head for Sydney.

Tonight the work starts, with Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation chief executive Paiboon Upatising flying in from Canberra, Australia's capital, where he has already been doing some business.

Australia is big - three times the size of Western Europe - so flying is an essential way to get around.

With a couple of hours to spare, we head for Bondi, the famous Sydney beach. It's a broad arc, without so many swimmers at this time of the year as in Australia's summer, which begins - this being Down Under - in December.

There's a sense even at the beach that you are in a big country. Yet while Australia is very big it's also extremely dry away from the coast, so the population is only about 20 million.

Australia also has its problems with unwanted immigrants, coming by boat, and like Thailand really doesn't have a solution, except to detain or push back the boatpeople.

We get some good news: the number of agents wanting to greet the Phuket team has grown from 80 to 120 - a sure sign of Phuket's pulling power in Australia at the moment.

There is one big negative, though. People from Phuket on this trip all say the biggest problem that Phuket has from an Australian perspective is the tuk-tuks.

Phuket needs to have a tourism base of people who keep coming back to the island. But those who are ripped off by the tuk-tuk drivers don't come back.

Australians are used to cheap public transport and Bali provides intense competition for Phuket, so anything that spoils a person's holiday on Phuket leaves them with an alternative that's even closer to Australia next time.

The hotel in Sydney where we are staying is very comfortable but it has no wi-fi, only cable Internet connections, and I've left a key plug at home in Thailand. The result: I can buy a connection, but it will cost me US$5 for each 30 minutes.

That's pretty much in tuk-tuk class. Every country, it seems, has its tourism rip-offs.

Phuketwan is travelling with the Phuket tourism road show as a guest of the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation

Comments

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That's pretty much in tuk-tuk class. Every country, it seems, has its tourism rip-offs.

Very poor Chutima better you stay in Phuket with your head in the sand. How you can compare the two I'll never know.

Posted by Phillip on September 21, 2010 12:26

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I would say, the Aussies never pushed back boat people to the sea. And maybe the hotel can lend you the key cable, or buy it in a shop. As a reporter please prepare better, like calling the hotel in advance, if all necessities for your work are available. Otherwise it looks like a tourist on tour. All in all a wild potpourri of reporting.

Posted by Lena on September 21, 2010 17:43

Editor Comment:

Mostly, Australia impounds boatpeople who come within reach of the country. These people are impounded offshore or in inhospitable places. To send them to Christmas Island or East Timor or previously to Nauru is the Australian version of the ''pushback.'' Suicides and attempted suicides continue to be a serious issue among people impounded by Australia for long periods. As with Thailand, this send the message: ''Don't come.''

Here's one report today: Eight asylum seekers ended a torturous 30-hour stand-off with Australian authorities after they climbed down from the roof of a Sydney immigration detention centre.

Some of the asylum seekers had threatened to jump and kill themselves if the Immigration Department did not agree to review their refugee applications by 5pm (AEST) on Tuesday.

Shortly before the deadline, an Iranian and an Iraqi ended their protest, descending from the roof, and a Sri Lankan followed them less than two hours later.

Some of the initial group of 11 protesters had cut themselves on the arms and chest during the day, smearing blood on their bodies and a sign which read: "We need help and freedom".

Cars going by sounded their horns in support of the men's plight while others yelled: "Go on and jump''

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Dear Editor,
I do like reading your newspaper but please get your facts right, Australia has never sent Illegal immigrants or so called asylum seekers to East Timor and the the ones that were sent to Nauru had better accommodation than the locals .

They also were not locked up in the camp for 24 hours everyday as in Nauru there was nowhere for them to abscond.

Why should any nation be held to ransom by people who try to bypass the legal laws of immigration ? And then when that Country after due process tries to deport them they create havoc, If a country bows to their demands then they are perceive as being weak .. but if they stand their ground then they are portrayed as insensitive and racist?

Posted by Lozza on September 21, 2010 19:17

Editor Comment:

It's a matter of finding the right balance, and of continuing to offer support to genuine refugees. This is a difficult issue everywhere. Offshore holding pens in Nauru or as proposed for East Timor merely shift the problem. The answer is to stop the people smugglers.

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Re Wifi cost....That is 145 baht. If I buy 30 minutes of internet at the Bangkok airport it is 125 baht (WLANNET HOTSPOT NETWORK SERVICE)

However in hotels most people buy the day rate and that won't be $240. So another deflect rather than just owning the tuk tuk problem.

As reported by Kuhn Chutima...With a couple of hours to spare, we head for Bondi, the famous Sydney beach.

Why isn't this the focus of the trip? Phuket is primarily a beach destination. Why not learn about what makes a world famous beach destination work?

Posted by Lincoln on September 23, 2010 11:28

Editor Comment:

Thanks for the thoughts, Lincoln. Planned group trips that take in Australia in five days and Bondi in a couple of hours don't leave a lot of room for grand ideas, but we're working on a few. I don't have a problem comparing one rip-off with another rip-off. Phuket's tuk-tuks have a captive market and a virtual monopoly, so do Australian hotels that overcharge for Internet connections. The Internet rates experienced on this trip have been $A22 in Brisbane and $A29 in Sydney for a 24-hour connection, something other resorts provide for free. That's a rip-off. If you pay your subscription in advance now for the next 20 years, we can easily meet most of your aspirations.

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It's now illegal in Thailand for WiFi to be available where alcohol is sold in a public area..... which makes all hotels lobbys illegal where WiFi is available!!.Tell that to your Australian counterparts..can you compare that to being ripped off by a Tuk Tuk or even better having a gun stuck in your face!!

Posted by Lincoln on September 23, 2010 11:36

Editor Comment:

Hey Lincoln, you're back again. Do you have a vested interest of some kind in this issue? Having a gun stuck in your face is a crime. Either that, or you need cosmetic surgery to remove the gun.

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'It's now illegal in Thailand for WiFi to be available where alcohol is sold in a public area..... which makes all hotels lobbys illegal where WiFi is available!!.'

What rubbish, and since when? Go to any restaurant or coffee shop in Jungceylon or beyond or any 4 or 5 * hotel lobby that has free WI-FI and you can buy alcohol with your WI-FI.

Posted by Pete on September 23, 2010 14:18


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