Overnight downpours resulted in heavy traffic congestion in many areas of the capital on Monday. Commuters spent more time on the roads trying to reach their workplaces and one staff member told the Nation that it had taken her almost three hours to get into work as opposed to the usual journey time of one hour. One of the roads hardest hit by the congestion was Bangna-Trat, with the the inbound lanes backed up for several kilometres before the expressway gate toll. Meanwhile in Nakhon Ratchasima province, heavy rains led to flash flooding in many districts. In some areas, cars were submerged, bringing the traffic to a complete standstill. The Meteorological Department has warned of variable weather conditions in the north, the lower northeast, the central and the east until Wednesday.
With mascots dressed as smiling fish and a police rock band, Thai authorities launched a "Happy Zone" at the weekend to improve the image of a city notorious for sex tourism. Stung by foreign headlines portraying the seaside resort of Pattaya as "Sin City" and "The World's Sex Capital", Thailand's government has begun a new effort to re-brand it. But the contradictions in Pattaya highlight Thailand's challenge in tackling a side of its tourist industry that remains economically vital while being officially excoriated. In fact, sex tourism is not growing as fast as other aspects of Thailand's tourist industry - the only bright spot for an economy whose expansion has been by far the slowest among major Southeast Asian economies since the 2014 coup. The rise of Pattaya dates back to the Vietnam war days when US troops stationed in Thailand used it as an R and R spot, though prostitution is just as evident in parts of Bangkok and other resorts. The number of female sex workers in Thailand was put at over 120,000 in a 2014 UNAids report. Some estimates run to double that and not all the women who get paid for sex are full-time prostitutes. The latest of many crackdowns in Pattaya happened after foreign newspaper reports last month, which drew an angry response from Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, for whom bringing order is a mantra. A handful of bars were raided. Bar owners and working women were fined. Scared to venture out, tourists looking for sex stayed in hotels. Street vendors and shops saw sales tumble. The money which flows to all levels in the city - including law enforcement agencies - fell off. The Happy Zone approach is a softer way to try to show that something is being done. If it works on Walking Street, the idea will be spread to the less sanitised sois. Businesses in the Happy Zone are asked to make the area feel safer, there are increased security patrols, police launched a mobile phone app for visitors to summon them in emergency. "This is a pioneer project to organise a tourist destination and elevate it to promote Thailand's quality tourism," Apichai Krobpetch, chief of Pattaya city police, told Reuters. "We will also stamp out prostitution in the area." (Source: The Bangkok Post)
At least a hundred monkeys climbed down a hill to cool off in a pool of water at Wat Tham Sue in Krabi yesterday. Krabi has not seen rain for about two months and this particular area has experienced a severe rise in temperature. “The monkeys climbed down into the pool, close to where tourists had come down for refreshments. Everyone was delighted to be able to enjoy a surprise appearance by the ‘guests’,” Jamras Sornsuvann, the temple keeper, told the Phuket Gazette. The monkeys playfully splashed around in the water and smiled at tourists as they took pictures. Mr Jamras warned people to be careful, adding that monkeys become aggressive in hot weather and could end up biting someone. “Do not feed them, as they are naturally able to procure food for themselves,” he warned. He also noted that tourists should only take photos, and not touch, play with or provoke the monkeys in any way. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)
Police are hunting for a suspect who stole gold from at least two jewelry stores in Wichit and Phuket Town last week. The woman's face was captured by CCTV cameras at both stores. She is believed to be about 30 years old and 150cm tall. The footage was shared on various social media forums, including LINE groups, warning other store owners to be careful. The latest incident took place on Saturday morning, when she entered a gold shop named ‘Yong Dee’ in Wichit. CCTV footage showed her browsing around the shop, looking at various items of jewelry. As soon as the store attendant turned away, she swiped a 15g gold necklace and put it in her pocket before leaving the store. The store attendant only learnt about the missing necklace that evening, when she was counting inventory before closing the shop for the night. She then filed an official complaint and submitted the CCTV footage as evidence to Wichit Police Station. The owner of another store, ‘Ying Jaroen’, in Talad Nue also filed a complaint against her at Phuket City Police Station on Friday. This time too, the suspect's face was captured on CCTV. Col Sermpan Sirikong, deputy commander of Phuket Provincial Police, called officers from both police stations to discuss the issue. “We will check CCTV footage from nearby public areas to find out where she went. We already know her face and vehicle licence plate number, so we are sure we'll find her soon. We have also provided her description and information to officers at Tah Chat Chai checkpoint, so they can arrest her in case she tries to leave Phuket,” said Col Sermpan. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday thanked Government House reporters for giving him a birthday card and their good wishes to mark his 63rd birthday. General Prayut admitted that sometimes he became aggressive with reporters but that was due to work-related stress, adding that he held no personal grudge against them. “I just want what we are doing to be completed successfully, otherwise we will not be able to move further,” he told the media. “We have attained many successes. In some areas, we are in the process of doing [work] and almost succeeding. But in some areas, we are just in the starting point.” Prayut asked the media to accept the fact prime ministers have different characters. “I am what I am,” he said. The PM gave a commemorative coin in memory of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej to each of his media well-wishers at Government House. On Tuesday morning, he and his family offered alms to nine monks at his residence inside the First Infantry Division to mark his birthday. (Source: The Nation)