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- Three foreigners arrested operating unlicensed spa on Koh Phangan island
Police in Koh Phangan arrested 2 Russian men and an American woman in a raid at a health spa following
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Police in Koh Phangan arrested 2 Russian men and an American woman in a raid at a health spa following complaints from locals of illegal activities and Covid-19 restriction violations. They are accused of a range of charges relating to the legality of the business, though the information is unclear if they face any charges for breaking any Covid-19 rules.
The spa is known as Aum Sound Healing, a secluded space on Koh Phangan that offers spa and sauna services, as well as gatherings and events like meditation circles and sound healing ceremonies, according to a local who had visited. The business sells health packages but hosts events that are mostly donation-based and specialises in healthy living, supplying vegan food and teas.
But despite being secluded, there are local residents living nearby, who claimed that the spa was holding parties in violation of Covid-19 restrictions that had become a nuisance, so they complained to authorities.
The Department Of Provincial Administration officials joined with local Phangan police under the direction of Surat Thani’s provincial governor and the Koh Phangan district chief to execute the raid. They first sent in 2 officers to inspect the operations there and confirm there was enough evidence or probable cause to arrest the owners and search the premises.
Upon confirmation, the spa was raided and the owners, 54 year old Russian Sergei, 34 year old Russian Anton, and 36 year old American Elizabeth. They were all transported to the Koh Phangan police station to face charges.
While it seems there may not have been enough evidence of parties and events in violation of the Covid-19 restrictions, police are prosecuting the owners on charges of employing foreigners that do not have work permits, violating 90-day reporting, and running an unlicensed health spa.
Koh Phangan, well-known as a hub for spiritualism and alternative beliefs, often found residents denying or debating Covid-19 and prevention techniques with expats frequently flouting pandemic restrictions and promoting alternate treatment methods and beliefs about the coronavirus. As a relatively isolated island, Covid-19 infections were rare on Koh Phangan island despite frequent ignoring of safety regulations and illegal gatherings and parties continuing during lockdowns.
Thank you to The Taiger “3 foreigners arrested operating unlicensed Koh Phangan spa” which was brought to us by Google Alerts.
Photo credit @ www.banmuang.co.th + Police Thailand News + Aum Sound Healing
The post Three foreigners arrested operating unlicensed spa on Koh Phangan island appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.9 July 09 2021General Newshttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4347
- German drug fugitive arrested on Koh Phangan island
Two German nationals alleged to be leaders of a major drug network in Europe were arrested by police in Surat
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They were Alek Kartun, 42, who has German-Russian nationality, and Alexander Wolfien, 38, a German national, Immigration Bureau chief Pol Lt Gen Sompong Chingduang said.
Mr Kartun was arrested at a luxury villa on Koh Phangan in Surat Thani and Mr Wolfein at Rawai beach in Phuket on Tuesday morning.
The two men were alleged leaders of a major network providing drugs to gangs in several European countries. They had fled arrest warrants and been living in Thailand for several years, Pol Lt Gen Sompong said.
The German embassy had sought assistance from national police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk in apprehending and returning the men to Germany for trial.
“The two suspects stayed with their Russian friends, who acted as their eyes and ears if police went there looking for them.
“Immigration investigators had to exercise extra caution in tracking them down before seeking arrest warrants from the Phuket and Koh Samui courts. Two teams were set up to arrest them,” Pol Lt Gen Sompong said.
They face extradition to Germany. In the meantime, they have been charged with involvement in the drug trade.
A Russian national was also arrested during the raids. Victor Thubnikov, 42, was charged with illegal possession of marijuana.
Photo credit @ Bangkok Post
The post German drug fugitive arrested on Koh Phangan island appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.7 July 07 2021General Newshttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4343
- 3rd wave of Covid has finally reached Koh Phangan island
Thailand’s 3rd wave of Covid-19 is leaving no stones unturned, as it has recently spread to the Gulf Islands of
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The other popular Gulf Islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao are reporting 2 and 3 new coronavirus infections respectively. All of the new infections on those 2 islands have been admitted to Koh Pha-Ngan Hospital.
The CCSA has placed Surat Thani province in the Orange Zone category, along with the rest of the provinces that are not listed in the Red Zone. Those provinces in the Orange Zones must adhere to nationwide restrictions along with closing restaurants by 11pm.
- No curfew but reduced travel and movements, particularly at night time from 23.00 hr to 04.00 hr
- No alcohol may be sold or consumed in restaurants
- The closure of all entertainment places, such as pubs and bars
- Any gathering of more than 50 people is prohibited
- All educational institutions will be closed for in-class learning, as well as amusement parks and indoor playgrounds
- All shopping malls must close at 21.00 hr
Meanwhile, it looks like any reopening plans are being delayed due to the 3rd wave that has hit nationwide. Authorities say the 3rd wave’s epicentre is that of Bangkok’s nightlife venues, which have seen visitors to those areas spread the virus throughout the Kingdom.
Now, the health service is setting up emergency covid beds, a total of 90 in Surat Thani, 40 Koh Samui and 50 Koh Phangan.
Update 18. April 2021
Samui Info by Nicha reports 8 cases in total for Koh Phangan & Koh Tao
Koh Phangan COVID-19 Situation 17. April 2021
The post 3rd wave of Covid has finally reached Koh Phangan island appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.18 April 18 2021High Alerthttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4335
- Is Koh Phangan’s Full Moon Party over for good?
It’s approaching sundown on a full moon Saturday, but revelry is in short supply in Haad Rin, home of Koh
The deserted streets of this small town are a study in neglect, an impression brought cruelly into focus by the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.
Shabby shops offering cheap Thai massages or advertising bamboo tattoos are shuttered, their doors fastened by heavy chains. The only things missing from the eerie scene are giant balls of tumbleweed: not a possibility in this verdant tropical paradise.
On a typical full moon night before the pandemic, the bars that line Haad Rin beach on this Thai island would already be packed with partygoers soaking up the sunset in anticipation of a long night of block-rocking beats and potent cocktails served in buckets.
But though quarantine restrictions are keeping most international travelers away from Thailand these days, there’s some life at Tommy Resort, a Haad Rin stalwart that has been hosting backpackers since 1980. At a large table in the main bar area, a group of local men are pouring whisky, clinking glasses in honor of global vaccination efforts and anticipating the imminent return of the Thai island’s main claim to fame.
“We are hopeful that the Full Moon Party can resume this summer,” says one.
The men — all owners of tourism-dependent businesses such as hotel, bars, restaurants and tour operators — have a strong vested interest in a successful resurrection of Thailand’s most famous shindig.
They are members of the Haad Rin Business Association, the current custodians of an event that has evolved from its roots in the 1980s as a humble hippy beach gathering to a phenomenon that, pre-pandemic, regularly drew crowds of up to 30,000 people to the powder-soft sands each month.
The growth of the Full Moon Party has not been without issues. Its core creed of harmless fun played out in tropical paradise surroundings remains intact.
Nevertheless, bad press has attached itself to the event. Critics have highlighted real and perceived dangers from drugs, alcohol abuse and opportunistic crime as well as bad behavior on the part of revelers.
Calls for a calmer, more sustainable Full Moon Party
With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, local authorities in Surat Thani province, which governs the island, ordered the parties to stop in March 2020. The year-plus pause that has followed has prompted much in the way of soul-searching and speculation.
Some on the island are advocating for a more sustainable, better regulated and calmer event with the potential for less negative associations. Others are reported to be in favor of killing off the cash cow permanently and paving the way for other kinds of tourism in Haad Rin.
But judging by the attitude of the whisky-supping powerbrokers, it seems that rumors of the imminent death of the Full Moon Party are premature. The party attracts more than half of the more than one million visitors that come to Koh Phangan each year.
It supports thousands of jobs and small businesses. Given the economic boost such a reliable influx of visitors provides, it’s no wonder that many are desperate to see a return to business as usual.
“It (the pause) has been a terrible blow for many people on Koh Phangan,” says P Noi, the owner of Tommy Resort.
“The last event before the pandemic in February, we had 20,000 people at the party. The absence of customers has had a knock-on effect on everyone from business owners to food sellers, migrant workers and taxi drivers. We accept constructive criticism, but there’s no reason why the Full Moon Party cannot come back when tourism opens up again.”
The group mention several areas in which they would like to evolve. They accept the need for mask-wearing and social distancing: at least until the pandemic is firmly in the rear-view mirror. They also hope to attract a wider diversity of higher-quality businesses to Haad Rin to replace the massage and tattoo parlors and tacky souvenir shops, many of which are closed permanently.
Observers such as celebrated UK DJ Graham Gold — a long-term resident on Koh Phangan — would like to see a more drastic overhaul of the Full Moon Party itself. The Londoner, however, has the first-hand experience of a widely held reluctance to fix what many feel is unbroken.
“Some years ago, I worked with a guy called Aaron Fevah (another Koh Phangan-based UK DJ) for three months researching everything about the Full Moon Party,” says Gold.
“We looked at how it could be improved and made safer with proper security and production and sound systems equal to festivals around the world like Tomorrowland and Creamfields. We presented the Haad Rin Business Association with a 35-page document on how to turn it into a world-class event. But such a plan needs serious investment.
“The Full Moon Party grew pretty much organically from its origins as a hippy beach hoedown with guitars and a couple of bonfires and many locals got very rich without any real investment. So why start now? They believe — and probably rightly so — that people will always come to Koh Phangan for the party.”
“There’s far more to Koh Phangan than the party”
While a “same, same, but just slightly different” attitude appears to prevail (for now at least) in Haad Rin, Koh Phangan as a whole has witnessed a more nuanced evolution in recent times.
The party has, in the past, tended to define the entire island, with many regarding it as a feral wild child, especially in comparison with more polished Thai tourist destinations like Phuket or Koh Samui.
A blissed-out counter-culture-friendly vibe remains. But the island has broadened its appeal beyond backpackers to attract high net worth holidaymakers, families, yogis attracted by a vibrant wellness community centered on the village of Sri Thanu, digital entrepreneurs and Bangkokians seeking refuge from city life.
“The image of the island presented by the Full Moon Party is potent,” admits island-based author and writing coach Brian Gruber, one of the administrators of the Koh Phangan Conscious Community Facebook page, an online hub for island-relevant events, information and discussion with over 50,000 active members.
“But I think that the message that there’s far more to Koh Phangan than the party has been filtering through for a while.”
The economic pain caused by the pandemic has, of course, been acute for many people. But in some ways, Koh Phangan appears to be not just surviving but thriving.
Venues such as Sati Pot, a Persian restaurant, and co-working space Indigo are thronged with customers daily. Social highlights range from art openings to jazz poetry evenings and ecstatic dance sessions.
The island’s reputation for hosting a killer party, meanwhile, reaches far beyond Haad Rin. Popular draws such as Eden, Guy’s Bar and Lost Paradise keep revelers — a mix of domestic travelers and island residents — moving from dusk until far beyond dawn.
On the advocacy side of things, Forward Phangan — a collective of volunteers representing residents, local businesses and organizations — are working towards the common goal of improving the island for residents and visitors alike. Unsurprisingly, the Full Moon Party has been a major topic of conversation recently.
For Forward Phangan member Jakkra Brande, the key to a sustainable future for the Full Moon Party — and indeed for Koh Phangan — rests, not in wholesale changes and rebranding, but an appreciation of what makes the island special.
Brande, a Bangkokian who owns Nira’s Bakery in Thong Sala, the island’s main port, arrived on Koh Phangan as a 7-year-old in 1984. Even now, he recalls being overwhelmed by the island’s natural splendor and the warm welcome from the locals.
“Changing ourselves into something we are not is wrong,” he says.
“We need to improve what we already have here. Of course, Haad Rin can be made more appealing. What’s more important is learning to appreciate what we have — the pristine environment, the friendliness — and work on preserving these aspects before our charm disappears.”
Back in Haad Rin, the sun has drained from the day, but the gathering is still ongoing. The men raise their glasses in another toast: this one dedicated to absent friends that they hope to see again soon.
“People have tried to recreate the Full Moon Party elsewhere, but nobody can do it,” smiles P Noi. “So, we can’t wait to see people returning to the best beach party in the world.”28 March 28 2021Full Moon Partyhttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4328
- Cable repaired, power supply to Koh Phangan island resumes
Repairs to the damaged underwater cable supplying electricity to Koh Samui and Koh Phangan were completed on Monday night, after
The post Cable repaired, power supply to Koh Phangan island resumes appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.
The Provincial Electricity Authority said on Tuesday that the 115kv underwater cable between Khanom district in Nakhon Si Thammarat and Koh Samui was repaired and supply resumed at 8.28pm on Monday.
The Khanom power plant began supplying power to all areas of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan on Monday night. Six mobile power-generating trucks which had been deployed to the affected areas were no longer needed.
PEA district manager Jakkrit Meedet said the power situation on Koh Samui had not been critical. Monday’s blackout was a “normal accident”.
The PEA would hire a firm to make an underwater survey and find out what caused the damage to the cable, which supplies the Koh Samui power plant 2 in tambon Mae Nam of Koh Samui district.
The cable was earlier reported to have been damaged by an anchor dropped by HTMS Anthong, about two kilometres off Samui island. The blackout began on Monday at 8.07am.
Tuesday’s announcement made no reference to the anchor or the ship.
Photo credit @ Amy Elting via Unsplash
The post Cable repaired, power supply to Koh Phangan island resumes appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.10 March 10 2021General Newshttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4303
- Navy ship’s anchor causes blackout on Koh Phangan island
An anchor dropped by a navy ship damaged an underwater cable supplying power to Koh Samui and Koh Phangan on
The post Navy ship’s anchor causes blackout on Koh Phangan island appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.
Jakkrit Meedet, PEA’s district manager, said the blackout affected tambons Bo Phut, Mae Nam and Maret of Koh Samui district and some areas on Koh Phangan island.
The investigation revealed it was caused by damage to the 115kv underwater cable supplying power from Khanom district in Nakhon Si Thammarat to Koh Samui.
The cable was damaged by an anchor dropped by HTMS Angthong, an amphibious transport dock, about two kilometres west of Samui, he said.
The repair would take several days.
The damage was near similar damage incurred in 2018, he added.
To overcome the problem, the PEA had deployed six mobile power-generating trucks to supply electricity to affected areas of the island.
More power-generators would be sent to the island on Tuesday, Mr Jakkrit said.
The electricty agency was forced to divide affected consumers on the two islands into three groups and supply power to each of them for one hour at a time in rotation, to save energy until the situation returns to normal.
The PEA was still supplying electricity to hospitals, he said, while asking residents to save energy.
Thank you to Bangkok Post “Navy ship’s anchor causes blackout on Samui, Phangan ” which was brought to us by Google Alerts.
Photo credit @ Wikipedia
The post Navy ship’s anchor causes blackout on Koh Phangan island appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.10 March 10 2021General Newshttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4299
- 4.000 Baht fine & suspended jail terms for Koh Phangan partygoers
The 109 people caught partying at Three Sixty Bar on Koh Phangnan in contravention of Covid-19 restrictions have been fined
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The 109 people caught partying at Three Sixty Bar on Koh Phangnan in contravention of Covid-19 restrictions have been fined 4,000 baht each.
They were also each sentenced to one month in prison, suspended for one year.
The bar owner and a staff member were each fined 10,000 baht and sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for one year.
The Koh Samui Provincial Court handed down its judgement on Thursday afternoon via video conference.
The 111 defendants were at the Koh Phangan district office multi-purpose building. Police took them there instead of the court to reduce the risk of infection. Health officials measured each defendant’s body temperature and they were required to wash their hands with alcohol gel and wear a mask, and they were seated well apart.
A total of 109 customers were detained – 89 foreigners (38 men and 51 women) and 20 Thais (7 men and 13 women) – when immigration and tourist police and local officials raided the Three Sixty Bar in Koh Phangan district on Tuesday night.
Also detained were Pongdaran Lim-ochakul, 40, who admitted being the owner and party organiser, and Somsakul Kiartnarong, 47, a bartender.
Forty bottles of beer and whisky and a notepad were seized.
Earlier reports said Mr Pongparan admitted only being the owner, while Mr Somsakul admitted being the organiser of the party.
Pol Col Panya Niratmanon, chief of Koh Phangan police, said on Friday that all defendants were charged with illegal gathering in a crowded venue that posed a risk of disease, violating an order by provincial authorities declaring the province a disease control area, and violating the emergency degree to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The owner and the bartender faced additional charges of allowing alcoholic drinks inside the premises in violation of the provincial Covid-19 restrictions.
Mr Pongdaran said he organised the party but was not aware that the order banning such a gathering was still in force. He thought that because Surat Thai had not recorded a coronavirus case for 14 days, parties and other activities could resume.
If officials had warned him earlier, he would have cancelled the party, the bar owner said.
Dmitrii Kopylov, 36, a Russian national, said he was at the party because he thought nothing would happen. He accepted the court ruling and offered his apologies to the Thai people.
Thank you to Bangkok Post “Fines, suspended jail terms for Koh Phangan partygoers” which was brought to us by Google Alerts.
Photo credit @ Bangkok Post
The post 4.000 Baht fine & suspended jail terms for Koh Phangan partygoers appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.30 January 30 2021General Newshttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4294
- More than 100 people arrested at Koh Phangan party for violating Covid-19 restrictions
More than 100 people partying in contravention of Covid-19 retrictions were arrested when police and local officials raided a nightspot
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They found Thais and foreigners crowded inside the premises, where music was playing and food and alcoholic drinks being served.
A total of 109 party-goers were detained – 89 foreigners (38 men and 51 women) and 20 Thais (7 men and 13 women).
Also detained were Pongdaran Lim-ochakul, 40, who admitted being the owner, and Somsakul Kiartnarong, 47, who admitted being the organiser of the party, police said.
The customers were charged with violating the emergency degree to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Mr Pongdaran and Mr Somsakul were charged with colluding in operating an entertainment venue without permission. All were taken to Koh Phangan police station for legal action.
Pol Col Suraruek Phankosol, chief of Surat Thani immigration, said police had been alerted to tickets being sold online to a party at the Three Sixty Bar in breach of the law.
Surat Thani governor Wichawut Jinto said on Wednesday he had been briefed on the raid.
He had ordered strict action be taken against the offenders, to send the message that breaches of restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease would not be tolerated.
Photo credit @ Bangkok Post
The post More than 100 people arrested at Koh Phangan party for violating Covid-19 restrictions appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.28 January 28 2021General Newshttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4290
- 300 Baht Tourism fee to help insure foreigners visiting Thailand?
The National Tourism Policy Committee has approved the proposed guidelines for the collection of a 300-baht tourism fee from each
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The National Tourism Policy Committee has approved the proposed guidelines for the collection of a 300-baht tourism fee from each international visitor for the management of local tourist destinations.
The money will also be used to provide insurance benefits to international tourists visiting the country.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said each foreign visitor will be charged US$10 (300 baht) per visit. The details of the fee collection will be announced in the Royal Gazette once the policy has taken effect.
According to Mr Phiphat, Thailand expects to receive some 10 million visitors this year.
He said the merit of the 300-baht tourism fee is that foreign tourists who fall sick or are injured will be taken care of and given adequate medical care.
The ministry will have to discuss the details with the Finance Ministry and the Office of Insurance Commission.
Of the 300-baht fee, 34 baht is expected to be used for the insurance coverage, Mr Phiphat said.
The fee collection is in line with the revised National Tourism Policy Act, which authorises the ministry to impose a tourism fee for use in developing local destinations and providing insurance coverage to foreign tourists.
Tourism permanent secretary Chote Trachu on Thursday said the fee collection was initially due to begin last year, but it was put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the National Tourism Policy Committee has assessed the situation and agreed the tourism fee collection should go ahead this year.
According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the country had been forecast to close last year with merely 6.7 million international tourists, not much more than the number prior to last year’s outbreak of Covid-19, despite government attempts to activate entry schemes for foreigners via Special Tourist Visas (STVs).
With a second wave of outbreaks gripping many countries around the world, particularly during the winter months, triggering new rounds of lockdowns, Thailand is expected to wait longer, until the second half of this year, to see more visitors file back into the kingdom and revive the ailing industry.
While the TAT previously predicted the domestic market would reach 100 million trips last year, the recent spike in local cases led the agency to revise down the target to 95 million trips, a result of the partial lockdowns in some provinces.
Thank you to Bangkok Post “Tourism fee to help insure foreigners visiting Thailand” which was brought to us by Google Alerts.
Photo credit @ Bangkok Post
The post 300 Baht Tourism fee to help insure foreigners visiting Thailand? appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.17 January 17 2021General Newshttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4285
- Lost Spanish couple rescued in Koh Phangan forest
A Spanish couple became lost after going for a walk in a hilly forest on Koh Phangan and called for
A Spanish couple became lost after going for a walk in a hilly forest on Koh Phangan and called for help, and were found after a six-hour search that extended late into the night.
The island’s tourist assistant centre was informed by Tourist Police Hotline 1155 on Thursday around 4.30pm that two Spanish tourists who went to Khao Ra viewpoint in tambon Koh Phangan had become lost in the forest.
A 50-member team of local and tourist police, national park officials and rescue workers was assembled and began a search for the lost couple.
More than six hours later, a relieved Jose Vicente Landuce, 41, and his wife Esther De La Fluente Hermandez, 39, were found near the waterfall stream, around 11pm. The couple were safe, with no injuries.
Mr Vicente had phoned the Tourist Police Hotline 1155, seeking help.
The couple thanked all those involved in helping them.
Surat Thani governor Wichawut Jinto praised the rescuers for their swift action.
Officials were ready to provide assistance to visitors at all times, despite the outbreak of Covid-19, the governor said.
Photo credit @ Bangkok Post15 January 15 2021General Newshttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4279