The Return of Leatherback Turtles in Phuket

Even though the pandemic has brought the stop the world, it has also allowed the nature to revive and heal itself.  In Phuket, we had witnessed many leatherback turtles have returned to lay their eggs after a long time of absence since 2017. These ancient leatherback turtles are the largest turtle in the world both for fresh water and sea water. What make them so unique is their leather shells and the pattern that look like starfruit. Since they rely fully on nature for their well-being, fertile nature become most impact factor of their distinction. Phuket and Phang Nga are the ideal places for them to lay eggs especially when the tourists were away.   On the morning of new year 2021, one of the leatherback mothers came ashore to lay her eggs on Kata Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Phuket. The number of nests continue to grow from 13 nests last year to 18 nests altogether this year. This phenomenon is one of the evident that nature have return to fertility.  

After the world return to its normal stage, Thailand will continue to work on green tourism and welcome all the travelers close to the nature and the beauty that Thailand has to offer.

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Songkran – Celebrate Thai New Year!
Thailand’s annual Songkran or Thai New Year to be held during 13 -15 of April appears to be another year without any splashing. But the tradition and celebration live on. Tourism Authority of Thailand, Stockholm Office, gives 3 meaningful tips how to celebrate the annual festival the Thai way adapting the long tradition to the current situation. Clean the house Traditionally the new year welcomes a great start for the year to come. The Thais use this time to give their houses a deep cleaning. All of the cleanliness is supposed to bring blessings and good luck in the new year. And by throwing (or donating) the old, unused or sometime even broken objects is believed to take away the unfortunate. Declutter your belongings can also bring the freshness to your mind and spirit during the disruptions of your daily routines. Give warm regards to your loved ones. Traditionally the Thais give special respect to their families and elders by pouring scented water on their palms. In return, they would give out good blessings and wish their children and grandchildren a good future. Bringing small gifts to family members, the elderly, friends and the loved ones means sending the warm symbolic gesture of “Love and caring”. Why not donating a bit of your money to those who are in need or volunteering to help out the society. Be creative, remember even small thing does matter such as taking care of your neighbor’s children if their parents are sick, walking their dog or offer to buy groceries for the elders. Gathering and eating with families and friends are the Thai tradition. However, social distancing is unavoidable in this current situation. Giving families and friends a call simply asking how they are or schedule a video dinner together will turn a dull day to a brightful one with smile on your face. Keep the spirit up Traditionally the Thais will go to temples and give merit to monks in the morning. Pour little water on the buddha statue that they usually have at home. It is a way of cleansing your mind. So why not start your morning with meditation to give a calm and meaningful day. Instead of going to the temple, try taking a morning walk or jog or bike. Start a fresh and healthy morning, it is good for your health. Try to make this a habit and stay fit and healthy. TAT would like to take this Thai new year opportunity to wish you and your family a good health and to look forward to a good fortune.
Paradise Ahead – These Are Thailand’s Best Islands for You
Text & Photo : Antti Helin One of the many reasons why Thailand is so wonderful travel destination is how it can cater to all kind of travelers. Thailand’s islands are a perfect example. You are guaranteed to find just the right kind of island for you, whatever kind of beach paradise and adventure you are looking for. So here they are, Thailand’s best islands! Phuket – Something for Everyone If you want to experience all the best things Thailand has to offer in one island, Phuket is your choice. Phuket is Thailand’s biggest and most versatile island. You can dive and snorkel, hike through a jungle and swim in waterfalls, explore Phuket’s beautiful oldtown, play golf on fabulous greens, pamper yourself in luxurious spas, and pay your respects on beautiful Wat Chalong, the island’s main temple.  What really makes Phuket so diverse is its numerous beaches which all have their own ambience. The best beach for partying and shopping is Patong Beach, whereas quieter Karon and Bangtao are great for families. Beautiful and sophisticated Kata Beach is great for honeymooners, and long and mostly deserted Mai Khao caters for those who are looking for total peace and seclusion.  And those are just a few of Phuket’s beaches. In fact, you could spend every day of your fortnight vacation on a different beach and still have more to explore. Koh Samui – Thailand’s Luxury Island Almost all the islands in Thailand have great luxury resorts, but if you are looking for an all-in-one luxury option, Koh Samui is hard to beat. The experience starts in Koh Samui’s charming little airport from where you will be whisked smoothly to your topnotch luxury resort. And there are plenty in this island. The best ones like Four Seasons Samui, Six Senses Samui and Tongsai Bay Resort are all located on their own secluded paradise coves.  The luxurious feeling continues when you go out exploring the island. Koh Samui is almost round in shape, and wherever you drive on the road circling the island, you will see turquoise sea glimmering behind the palm trees. Here you really feel like being on an island.  If you fancy a round of golf, Santiburi Samui is one of Thailand’s most beautiful golf courses. Diving trips can be organized to the legendary Sail Rock, the best dive site on the Gulf of Siam. When it comes to a gourmet side of the trip, Ko Samui has probably the most bustling restaurant scene after Bangkok, Thailand’s capital. You will find several innovative, top class restaurants representing both Thai and international cuisine. Koh Lanta – Thailand’s Best Island for Families Beautiful and mellow, Koh Lanta is the perfect island for a family vacation. The beaches are long and relatively quiet, and the rhythm of life is relaxed. The most popular beach for families is the three-kilometer long Klong Dao, which fits the role nicely, as it is sheltered, the waterline is shallow and the sea deepens gradually. Kids can swim safely here. Almost all the resorts and restaurants are right by the beach, so while having your dinner, toes curled in the sand, you can watch your children building sandcastles by the sea with their new friends. As Koh Lanta has become one of the family holiday favorites, you can count on your kids will easily find new playmates for the holiday. Quite probably the parents become friends too, and you might just start planning together a new vacation in charming Koh Lanta. Koh Phi Phi – Thailand’s Ultimate Party Island When it comes to looks, Koh Phi Phi is a stunner. The island’s main beach is nestled between two majestic limestone mountains which rise vertically from the sea like some ancient, petrified sea monster. Koh Phi Phi might just well be the most beautiful island in the world. No wonder the film director Danny Boyle decided to film here his backpacker classic The Beach. Ever since the movie Koh Phi Phi has lured young and beautiful travelers to its shores, and the island has turned to Thailand’s party central. Whereas Koh Phangan is famous for its monthly full moon parties, Koh Phi Phi has parties every night, all year round. But don’t get us wrong. Koh Phi Phi is not only about parties, it is also a great island for snorkeling and diving. Colorful coral reefs circle the island, and you can even join a special snorkeling trip by Adventure Club with a promise that you get your money back if you don’t see reef sharks. Don’t worry, the sharks of Koh Phi Phi are as harmless as the sea turtles which you are also likely to see. Koh Lipe – Thailand’s Best Island for Snorkeling If you are really in to snorkeling, head further South from Koh Phi Phi to Koh Lipe. This beautiful tiny island is not called Thailand’s Maldives for nothing. The sand is soft and creamy white, the sea turquoise and the corals come in the colors of a rainbow. You can snorkel directly off Sunrise Beach, but the best underwater scenery awaits you on the waters of the nearby deserted islands. All of them have a different kind of underwater scenery, what makes the snorkeling so rewarding. Koh Tao – The Diving School Island Not a certified diver yet? No worries, Thailand’s Koh Tao is one of the cheapest places in the world to get a diving certificate, and pretty fun place as well. Koh Tao has such an easygoing and youthful vibe that many who come here for a short visit end up staying for far longer than they planned to get their diving certificate. Luckily, some extra days – or a week or two – in Koh Tao won’t break you bank, as it is very easy to find cheap and cheerful accommodation here. Once you finally manage to get up and leave, the next backpacker friendly island, Koh Phangan, is just a short ferry ride away. Koh Phangan – Best for Backpackers...
Taking Trains in Thailand
Text & Photo : Stefan Christensen Train travel…one mode of transportation that has gone from obsolete to chic in only a few years. Many years ago no one wanted to travel by train.  Now, at least the environmentally conscious travelers and those wishing to avoid the hassles and time consumption of airport security, are seeking travel solutions and trains have much to offer. Railways came to Thailand during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (reign: 1868-1910).  Many railway lines were soon stretching out from Bangkok in several directions.  Today, there are basically four directions one can travel by train from Bangkok. The main task for the railways in the early days was hauling freight as opposed to passengers. This remains true today. Many Choices Today, all rail lines in Thailand are run by the State Railway of Thailand. They provide transportation in first, second and third class. There are also options of Special Express, Express, Special DRC Express, Ordinary, Local and more. Unfortunately, none of the different train options is especially fast. In first and second class there is the further option of air-conditioned or not. The air-conditioned option usually means no possibility of opening a window for better photographs or just because the air-conditioning is extremely chilly. This traveller usually opts for a second class seat with a fan. In third class, air-conditioning is not available and adding to the discomfort of the heat, some of the carriages still have wooden seats. So you might end up with a sore bum and a sweat soaked shirt after a few hours ride. The upside is, it is dirt cheap. Ticketing Buying tickets presents its own challenges. Not quite yet in the 21st Century, one cannot buy train tickets online. The only options are to head down to the station and buy them there or go through a travel agent. Added to this challenge is the fact that third class tickets cannot be purchased in advance. Train schedules are generally published online, but again if you want to buy a ticket you need a travel agent to help or you head down to the station yourself. The homepage of the State Railway of Thailand is not exactly user friendly and is more focused on procurement – all in the Thai language. So best to skip that. Food Along the Way Trains in Thailand generally do not have restaurant carriages. But food is rarely far away in the Land of Smiles. There is usually a lady walking up and down the train aisles with food, drinks and snacks to sell. Another food option is to wait until the train reaches a station; Thai trains still stop at most stations and with a wait at each stop. This is an occasion for a swarm of food vendors to enter the train or simply to sell you some delicious “Khao Pad Gai” through the train window. You won’t be starving when traveling on a Thai train. Going North Chiang Mai is the obvious end destination on this line that also services interesting places like Lampang, Ayutthaya and Phitsanulok. The overnight train on the northern line is one of the most modern in Thailand. The Bangkok to Chiang Mai journey takes from 13 to 16 hours, depending on the train type. Going Northeast The northeastern line branches off in the middle of nowhere at the Khaeng Khoi junction. From there, one line heads to Ubon Ratchathani passing places like Surin, Buri Ram and Si Sa Ket. The second branch continues north through Khon Kaen, Udon Thani and ending up in Nong Khai by the mighty Mekong. Ends up is not really true, since a few years ago the line was continued into Laos and its capital Vientiane. The Eastern Line This line used to connect Bangkok with the capitol of Cambodia. In recent years, this line has been closed on the Cambodian side; thus, the journey ends at the border town of Aranyaprathet. The Cambodian section is planned to be reopened for traffic again soon, so train travel will resume between the two capitals. There is an additional rail line that branches off heading south, but it basically is used for transporting freight to and from the big ports. Going West The West line will eventually end up in Nam Tok close to the Myanmar/Burma border, passing through the amazing scenery on what is commonly known as the Death Railway and over the River Khwai. For this route, the train originates at the small Bangkok Noi Station. It is a flat fare of 100 THB in the third class all the way to Nam Tok. Trains leave twice each day from Bangkok Noi Station, hauling 10 – 12 carriages total but with passengers enough for only one. This mystery is resolved at Kanchanaburi Station where day-trip tourists climb onboard for the trip over the famous bridge. Heading South The southern line connects Bangkok with Singapore passing through Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Between the two end points are many interesting places in Thailand worth exploring. The most obvious is Hua Hin, but from south of Hua Hin to Chumphon is home to many small stations where there are nice beaches and small resorts on the coast. This is ideal for those wishing to escape the large masses of tourists. There are four branch lines heading further south – one that heads to Butterworth and destinations further south, one that goes to Sungai Kolok on the eastern part of the Malaysian Peninsula, one that ends up in Nakhon Si Thammarat and one that ends at the Andaman seaside town of Trang. The thing I enjoy most about train travel in Thailand is the opportunity to meet Thai people outside the big city. Don’t hesitate to engage with these friendly, welcoming people. They will share their thoughts while offering advice, smiles and laughter, all while enjoying train travel in Thailand. Destination Asien