Where is Bali ?

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“Where is Bali?” most searched travel question on Google in 2016

Jakarta – New York-based travel magazine Travel+Leisure recently reported that “Where is Bali?” was the most popular travel-related question searched on Google in 2016.

Following “Where is Bali?”, the next most popular questions among world travelers were “What to do in Vegas?”, “What to do in San Francisco?”, “Where is Corfu?” and “What to do in Orlando?”.

Furthermore, aside from asking the location or things to do, the top-10 travel questions searched on Google also include “How many ounces can you take on a plane?”.

(Read also: Ahok the most searched person on Google in 2016)

These questions were ranked based on the highest spikes in traffic.

For the complete top-10 most searched travel-related questions throughout 2016, consult the list below:

1. Where is Bali?

2. What to do in Vegas?

3. What to do in San Francisco?

4. Where is Corfu?

5. What to do in Orlando?

6. Where is Bora Bora?

7. What to do in Miami?

8. How many ounces can you take on a plane?

9. What to do in Myrtle Beach?

10. Where is the Grand Canyon?

Source: TheJakartaPost

Alila Seminyak (5 Star Resort), Bali Indonesia

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Located in Seminyak, this luxurious 5-star resort is set on the beachfront. It has an outdoor swimming pool, a spa and a fitness centre. WiFi is provided for free and available in all areas. Guests also enjoy complimentary scheduled shuttle service to nearby area.

Alila Seminyak 3

The air-conditioned elegant rooms and suites offers a refined décor and electric kettle. Some rooms feature a balcony, a personal safe and a flat-screen TV.

Alila Seminyak 4

Vehicle rental, day trips and area shuttles can be arranged by staff at the tour desk, while luggage can be stored at the 24-hour front desk. Guests who wish to stay in can relax on the sun terrace by the pool or indulge in a pampering massages. Other facilities offered include laundry, dry cleaning and ironing services. Kids club and babysitting services are also available.

Alila Seminyak 5

A fine selection of Asian cuisine can be enjoyed at the on-site restaurant, while the famous Ku De Ta is just a 4-minute drive away.

Alila Seminyak 6

Alila Seminyak is an 8-minute walk from Potato Head and a 30-minute drive from Ngurah Rai Airport.

Alila Seminyak 7

This property is also rated for the best value in Seminyak! Guests are getting more for their money when compared to other properties in this city.

Alila Seminyak 8

Alila Seminyak 9

Alila Seminyak 10

Alila Seminyak 2

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Phum Baitang (5 Star) Resort, Siem Reap Cambodia

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True to the meaning of its name “green village”, Phum Baitang offers quiet accommodation nestled amidst private, lush gardens and rice fields. Phum Baitang features a 50 m outdoor infinity pool, a spa and wellness centre and a barbecue area. 

Phum Baitang 2

The property boasts 45 spacious wood-and-stilt villas and is equipped with a children’s playground. Guests can enjoy meals at one of the two in-house restaurant or have a drink at the bar. Free private parking is available on site.

Phum Baitang 3

Phum Baitang is 3 km away from the vibrant Pub Street. The renowned Angkor Wat is 7 km away, while Angkor Night Market is 2.7 km from the property. The nearest airport is Siem Reap – Angkor International Airport, is a 6 km-drive. The property offers complimentary airport transfers and shuttle services.

Phum Baitang 4

Some villas offer a private terrace while others are fitted with a private plunge pool. Villas are fully-furnished with traditional Cambodian decor. The rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. Certain units feature a seating area to relax in after a busy day. 

Phum Baitang 5

Enjoy a cup of coffee while looking out at the pool or garden. Each room comes with a private bathroom fitted with a hot tub. Conveniences include bathrobes, slippers and free toiletries. The hotel offers free WiFi throughout the property.

Phum Baitang 6

Guests can indulge in Spa Temple’s variety of massages and treatments or participate in yoga classes. The 24-hour front desk offers currency exchange, tour arrangements and ticketing services. Bike hire is also available.

Phum Baitang 7

One of the property’s two in-house restaurants, Bay Phsar serves up authentic Cambodia cuisine and encourages guests to choose from an array of locally-sourced ingredients with the help of the chef, while Hang Bay specialises in fusion cuisine. 

Phum Baitang 8

This property is also rated for the best value in Siem Reap! Guests are getting more for their money when compared to other properties in this city. 

Phum Baitang 9

Phum Baitang 10

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An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas, Vietnam

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An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas 1

Featuring luxurious villas with private pools, An Lam Ninh Van Bay offers peaceful stays in rolling green landscapes overlooking Ninh Van Bay. It features an infinity pool, full spa facilities and fine dining.

An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas 2

Opening out to stunning sea views, tastefully furnished villas feature a flat-screen cable TV, iPod dock and coffee machine. Other comforts include semi-outdoor bath areas and rain showers.

Guests can start the day with a lesson at the yoga platform before exercising at the gym. For convenience, the hotel provides free Wi-Fi, business and tour services.

Featuring an outdoor terrace, the restaurant serves seafood specialties and Vietnamese dishes. In-villa dining with a private chef can be arranged.

An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas 5

An Lam Ninh Van Bay is 16.1 km from Nha Trang’s city center. The property offers airport shuttle service.

An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas 6

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Beautiful places in Thailand hotels where you want to have sex in.

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The outdoor bedroom above Bang Krachao at Bangkok Tree House

Amazing places for a romantic date

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Four Seasons, Chiang Rai

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The round beds at Le Meridien on Surawong Road, Bangkok

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The glass bedroom at Sri Panwa, Phuket

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The swinging basket daybeds at Keemala, Phuket

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Totally private Sala Villa at Sala, Phuket

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The open-air treatment area at The Barai, Hua Hin

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The Oriental mega-bed at Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai, Royal Suite

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The bathroom at the Pool Villa Courtyard suite at The Siam, Bangkok

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The open-air Jacuzzi tub with views until forever at Santhiya, Koh Yao Yai

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Hiking in Asia: 10 Places With Stunning Trails

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Asia is home to breathtaking nature, lush vegetation, exotic cultures and delicious cuisines. One of the best ways to explore and discover the various destinations in Asia is on foot – by taking a hike. Some hikes in Asia offer hikers a chance to spot rare wildlife species and meet indigenous tribes living in charming villages along the way. In many of the trails listed below, the journey itself is the destination.

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1. Sapa, Vietnam

Travel the northern highland town of Sapa in Vietnam for breathtaking views of rice terraces and stunning mountain peaks with mists hovering over them. Sapa rests in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, close to the Tonkinese Alps at the Chinese borders. Sapa is an increasingly popular destination among hikers, all keen to experience the hillside treks which passes through lush landscapes and charming villages. The best time to visit is from March to May.

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2. Ladakh Range, India

India’s highest and largest district is the Ladakh Range. Comfortably nestled between two vast mountains (the Karakoram to the north and the Himalayas to the south), the Ladakh range has more sheep and yaks than monkeys and cows. In Ladakh Range, the culture of the people lean towards Tibetan rather than Indian. Travellers can take on trails in the Ladakh Range which ranges from easy (Ripchar Valley Trek and Lamayuru Alchi Trek) to difficult (Kang Yatse Trek, Hemis to Tsomoriri Trek). Some of the most gorgeous trails in the Ladakh Range are those that take hikers through the Zanskar range, such as the Lamayuru to Darcha Trek.

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3. Ratanakiri, Cambodia

Ratanakiri (Ban Lung), located in northeast Cambodia, is known for fantastic jungle trekking and hiking. It is also known as “dey krahorm” (red earth), as the area is covered in reddish dust during the dry season. Impressive hills, rivers and mountain ranges grace Ratanakiri, and the area is dotted with crater lakes and waterfalls.

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4. The Snowman Trek, Bhutan

Bhutan’s Snowman Trek covers over 200 miles, crossing 11 passes over 16,000 feet. To undertake the Snowman Trek, which takes about 25 days to complete, it is compulsory to be part of a guided tour. Each year, only a handful of people challenge themselves to take on this hike. The trail passes through Laya, home of the indigenous Layap people. Guides usually drop by the Thanza village to exchange horses for yaks, which are used to traverse difficult terrains. The highlights of this trail include the sceneries of remote valleys, visiting Buddhist monasteries, experiencing Bhutan’s authentic culture and spotting interesting wildlife such as the Himalayan blue sheep. Timing is essential for this trek, and it is best to go in April to avoid the snow and rain that closes the high passes. The Snowman Trek is ideal for the hardcore hikers.

AS5
5. Maluan Mountain, China

The trail that leads up to Maluan Mountain is easy and safe, and it passes through clear streams, verdant woods, and captivating waterfalls. It is no surprise that this trail is popular among hiking enthusiasts. Mount Maulan is also known for its plum blossoms in red, white and sea blue, which can be seen in January from the Plum Blossom Pavilion.

AS6
6. Gunung Tahan, Malaysia

To have a taste of the jungle, climb one of the most challenging mountains in Malaysia, Gunung Tahan. Tigers, elephants, leopards and the Sumatran rhino will greet hikers in this 130 million years old virgin rainforest, located in Taman Negara in the state of Pahang. The most scenic route is the Kuala Tahan classic train, which usually takes about seven days. Just be warned: this trek requires you to be mentally and physically fit.

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7. Mount Everest, Nepal

Climbing Everest is the dream of many mountaineers, but for those who are not capable of undertaking that intense, arduous and potentially-fatal journey, just hiking to the Everest Base Camp will do. Hikers heading to the Everest Base Camp can drop by museums and monasteries, enjoy amazing views and also experience the Sherpa culture. The warmth of Nepalese hospitality and breathtaking scenery makes the Everest Base Camp Trek an amazing trip, one that is possible even for those with average fitness.

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8. Annapurna Mountain Range, Nepal

The lofty peaks of the Annapurna are only for the trained and determined, and one of the best trails in the Annapurna Mountain Range is the famous Annapurna Circuit. This horseshoe-shaped route that runs for more than 200 kilometre is considered one of the best hikes in the world. Completing this rather challenging trek will take between 15 to 20 days. Rugged trails, sacred pilgrimage sites, exotic wildlife and awesome views of nature’s bounty will make your trip a memorable one.

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9. Mount Kailash Pilgrimage, Tibet

Mount Kailash stands out as a holy site to Buddhists, Jains, the Ayyavazhi branch of Hinduism, and the ancient Bon religion of Tibet. However, it is not often visited due to the mountain’s remote location in far western Tibet. Some religions regarded Kailash as the mythical Mt. Meru – the center and birthplace of the entire world. Myths and legends surround Mount Kailash, such as the Hindu belief that the place is the abode of god Shiva. Transportation to Mount Kailash via rugged over-land vehicles can be booked through various tour companies. Once you get there, hiking the 50 kilometres around it alongside pilgrims is the ritual to complete. Do note that the weather there can be always harsh and trekkers and pilgrims must carry all the supplies and provisions they need for the entire trip. April through September is the best months for this trek.

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10. Great Himalaya Trail, Nepal

The Great Himalaya Trail covers over 4500 kilometres and it connects the highest routes across the Himalaya with existing trekking trails and pilgrimage paths. The trail can be completed in a whopping four to six months if the weather permits. The challenging part of the Great Himalaya Trail is during the ascents and descents of the high passes, including Sherpani Pass (20,128 feet), West Col (20,154 feet), and Amphu Laptsa Pass (19,193 feet) sandwiched between Everest and Makalu. Wildlife such as the endangered snow leopard, yaks, red pandas and herds of blue sheep can be spotted along the trails, and there are also monasteries, tea houses and guest huts along the way.

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Source: Tripzilla Magazine
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Not bad: Thailand ranked 21st best country in world

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21th best

Thailand has been voted the 21st best country in the world in the “Best Countries” list unveiled at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Wednesday.

A survey of 16,000 people worldwide placed Thailand in the 21st place out of 60 selected countries in the rankings conducted by U.S. News & World Report, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and global brand consultants BAV Consulting.

The respondents, 8,000 of which were classified as “elites” and 4,500 as “business decision-makers,” were asked to share their perceptions on a random selection of 65 country attributes.

The attributes were then grouped into nine sub-rankings: adventure, citizenship, cultural influence, entrepreneurship, heritage, movers, open for business, power and quality of life.

Thailand received an impressive score in the “adventure” category, as well as “movers,” which predicts a country’s future growth in terms of gross domestic product based on purchasing power parity per capita.

However, Thailand’s score for “citizenship,” which explores the country’s interest in issues such as human rights, environment, gender equality, and as well as its trustworthy quality, was among the lowest in the world’s chart.

#21

We lost to Singapore (15th) and China (17th), while our neighboring countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos were not included in the list – except Malaysia, which placed 28th.

Globally, Germany won first place as the world’s best country (congrats!) followed by Canada, United Kingdom, United States, Sweden, and Australia.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the list was Algeria, preceded by Ukraine, Iran, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Source: Coconuts

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Asean set for tourism push

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Asian Beach

As grouping turns 50 next year, campaign will promote 600 destinations in the region.

IN ORDER to build a real sense of community, Asean will for the first time launch a regional tourism campaign to promote 600 destinations to boost arrivals and income when the regional grouping turns 50 next year.

Pongpanu Svetarundra, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, said officials of national tourism organisations from the 10 nations had agreed at a meeting in the Philippines to introduce “Asean at 50” as the new regional tourism campaign.

The campaign will be announced tomorrow at the Asean Tourism Forum in Manila and there will be a grand opening at the International Tourism Berse (ITB) in Germany in the first quarter of this year.

“Asean promotes itself as a single-market tourist destination as all members were integrated into an economic community at the end of last year. The campaign will be part of Asean’s 50th anniversary celebrations,” Pongpanu said.

Asean will be promoting 600 attractions located across the region, which will be divided into 12 different categories under the theme of “50 Best…”.

The dozen categories will be the 50 best of cities, hotels, restaurants, food, festivals and celebrations, beaches, shopping, historical sites, adventure tourism, small towns and villages, markets, as well as unforgettable experiences.

Pongpanu said each Asean member would propose their attractions and products to a central committee, which should complete the selection procedure before the grand opening in Germany.

Phill+

Thailand is assigned to lead the selection of two categories: festivals and celebrations, as well as unforgettable experiences, he said.

“The new campaign should boost tourism income and total arrivals in the region by 15 per cent from 100 million to 115 million,” he added.

Officials from national tourism organisations also approved another 10-year Asean Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) set for 2016-25, while Asean tourism ministers adopted the ATSP 2011-15 that focused on 19 measures.

Plan for tourism professIonals

The 10-year plan is also expected to boost tourism earnings for the entire region from 10 to 15 per cent in 2025, while employment in the sector should rise from 3 to 7 per cent, travellers’ length of stay will climb from 6.3 days to eight days and average spending per trip per visitor will rise from $900 to $1,500 or Bt 27,000 to Bt45,000.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, the total number of international arrivals in Asean is expected to rise to 123 million by 2020, 152 million by 2025 and 187 million by 2030.

Pongpanu said Asean will be also focusing on other developments such as improving infrastructure, enhancing competency, labour transfer, a single visa for all nations in the grouping as well as maintaining major tourism markets such as China, India and Russia.

Myan Mar

On January 19, all 10 Asean tourism ministers signed an agreement on the establishment of the Regional Secretariat to support the implementation of Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professional (MRA-TP.) The secretariat will be based in Jakarta and will commence operations this year.

Signed by Asean Tourism Ministers in November 2012, MRA-TP was developed to facilitate mobility of tourism professionals in the region.

Dr Ong Hong Peng, secretary-general of Malaysia’s Tourism and Culture Ministry, said the MRA-TP marked a significant milestone for tourism development in Asean.

“Moving forward, Malaysia, as chairman of the Asean Tourism Professional Monitoring Committee, will fully support and contribute towards the realisation of the objectives and targets of the Asean MRA-TP,” he said.

Source: The Nation

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Lombok Island – Surf, sand, sun, sea and solitude

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Lombok 17 1

Lombok Island is gradually joining its more prosperous neighbour Bali in the global spotlight.

For decades overshadowed by its neighbour to the West, the Indonesian island of Lombok is today gaining favour with holidaymakers wanting something a little less commercial than Bali.

The four bikini-clad Americans taking in the sun at Kuta beach are among them. Jessica, a lithe blonde, says she wants to see the sunset.

In the world’s largest archipelago, Bali was the only Indonesian island included on a list of the top 30 islands in the world by US-based Conde Nast Traveler magazine in October 2015. It ranked 17th, far behind Palawan Island of the Philippines, which earned first place.

“Lombok deserves to be included on the list. Now it is heading that way,” says Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) Culture and Tourism Agency head Lalu Faozal.

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Surrounded by 35 smaller islands, the 4,514-square-kilometre Lombok is flanked by Bali to the west and Sumbawa Island, NTB, to the east.

Like Bali, Lombok provides hospitality, serenity, rich culture and beautiful natural features.

Unlike Bali though, it never feels overcrowded.

Kuta is among the many breathtaking spots for sunbathing, swimming, surfing, snorkelling and diving on Lombok and its smaller islands, or gili as they are called in the local Sasak language.

Off the northwest coast of Lombok, the Gili Islands comprise three exotic islets: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. All have crystal-clear waters, rich biodiversity, enchanting coral reefs and beautiful sea creatures.

Visitors can reach the Gili islets by using the services provided by one of the 370 travel agencies in NTB.

The Komodo Dragon Backpacker Cruise, for example, offers a four-day boat trip for 2.5 million rupiah (Bt6,500) to visit the Gili islets and other tourist attractions. The boat, 25 metres in length and 4.5 metres wide, can accommodate up to 35 people.

Other agencies not only offer trips, but also provide surfing, snorkelling and diving courses.

Lombok 17 3

Faozal advises tourists to climb the 3,726-metre Rinjani Mountain, the highest of the seven mountains on Lombok, to admire the astonishing views.

“The mountaintop is home to the beautiful Lake Segara Anak,” he says.

Besides natural tourist attractions, Lombok is also rich with cultural events, such as the annual celebration of Bau Nyale, adds Central Lombok Tourism and Culture Agency head Lalu Putria.

Local people celebrate Bau Nyale on the 20th day of the 10th month of Sasak calendar. They go to sea to search for the colourful nyale (sea worms) that they believe to be the reincarnation of Princess Mandalika.

According to legend, Mandalika was a pretty princess of the Tanjung Bitu Kingdom that existed on Lombok a long time ago. Due to her good behaviour, many princes from other kingdoms were in love with her. Mandalika thought that if she chose one of the princes, wars would break out because the others would feel jealous and disappointed and they would fight against each other.

She then asked the princes and people to meet her at the Kuta Beach. She stood on a reef, telling them that she chose no one. Afterwards, she threw herself into the sea, The princes and local people tried to save her, but they found thousands of colourful sea worms floating on the sea instead of the princess’ body. They believed that the worms were her reincarnation.

“She jumped because she did not want people to become victims due to her choice. She showed us heroic values as she sacrificed herself for the interest of the people,” Putria says, adding that the locals consume nyale because they believe they would make women look ageless and boost the sexual vitality of men.

NTB hosts different festivals to bring in tourists. Last August to September, it hosted the first Lombok Sumbawa Cultural Month to boost tourism on Lombok and Sumbawa islands by exploring and developing the potential of arts and culture through various exhibitions and cultural events. The Pearl Festival, involving the producers of pearls with international standard quality, was among the highlights.

Faozal is optimistic that the number of tourists will reach two million in 2016, up by about 25 per cent from last year’s 1.6 million. Out of those 1.6 million, 752,306 were from overseas.

Besides the three airports, hotels and restaurants in the province are ready to welcome the tourists, he said.

The province has 925 hotels, consisting of 50 five-star hotels and 875 jasmine-class hotels along with 1,378 restaurants.

Faozal believes that the target of 2 million tourists could be realised because Bali, which was visited by 3.4 million tourists last year, has committed to encourage its tourists to visit NTB.

“The beauty of Lombok is complete. It ranges from the tops of the mountains to the bottom of the sea. Our rich culture will also attract tourists,” he says confidently.

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Prayers across Asean borders to welcome new year

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Prayer 1

CROSS-BORDER prayer ceremonies

Dubbed “Asean prayers”, the campaign aims to boost Thailand’s ties with neighbouring countries through friendly exchanges via the religious dimension, Culture Minister Veera Rojpojanarat said yesterday. This is the first time the Religious Affairs Department has extended this New Year activity to the border provinces of Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Tak, Loei, Nong Khai, Bung Kan, Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom, Ubon Ratchathani, Si Sa Ket, Sa Kaew, Surin, Ranong and Songkhla, he said.

In Central Thailand, traditional prayers will be held on New Year’s Eve at several renowned temples, including Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimonmangalaram (Wat Pho), Wat Sraket Rajavaramahavihara (Golden Mount) and Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram, he added.

Meanwhile, police spokesman Pol General Dechnarong Suticharnbancha yesterday inspected police and related officials’ preparedness at four key New Year countdown venues in Bangkok.

He said some 4,000 policemen would be deployed to provide security at the most popular countdown site in Bangkok, the CentralWorld Plaza, where some 200,000 partygoers are expected to show up. Early on New Year’s Eve, the area will be cleared of roadside stalls, and before midnight a bomb squad will be on hand to provide security.

Prayer 2

About 10,000 city law enforcers and police will be patrolling 11 sites across Bangkok and manning 18 metal-detector entrance points, he added.

Eye on road accidents

The beginning of the so-called “seven dangerous days” of road accidents yesterday saw Interior Ministry permanent secretary Krissada Boonrat preside over the opening of a Road Safety Centre at the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation. The centre will monitor road accidents and provide daily updates until January 5.

Public opinion is being sought over the policy of police and the Peace and Order Maintaining Command to temporarily seize cars and motorcycles from drunk drivers, which has been operating since Christmas Day.

A Suan Dusit Poll said yesterday that 80.47 per cent of 1,280 people surveyed from December 24 to 28 agreed with the measure on grounds that it would prevent road accidents, serve as a punishment and as a warning to motorists to abide by traffic laws. About 13 per cent disagreed with the policy, and suggested that fines and prison sentences be imposed, and alcohol-beverage selling outlets be dealt with as the root of the problem.

In the Northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima, a provincial transport office added another 100 bus trips to its 300-strong daily service yesterday and today, to serve an expected 20,000 holidaymakers. It also conducted alcohol breathalyser tests on bus drivers and checked their buses. Traffic volume on Mitraparp Highway heading towards Nakhon Ratchasima also rose yesterday, but cars were moving at an average speed of 70 to 80 kilometres per hour.

Source: The Nation.com

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