#Cambodia – Koh Paen residents aim to keep bamboo bridge tradition alive

Each year, Koh Paen residents built a seasonal, kilometre-long bamboo bridge for cars and pedestrians to cross the Mekong when the water levels were too low for a ferry.
Connecting the island of Koh Paen to Kampong Cham city in Kampong Cham province is a giant 779m concrete bridge, opened in March last year, able to carry loads of 20 to 30 tonnes across the Mekong river.Is it functional? Perhaps. Does it have any charm? Absolutely not.

But 2km south down the Mekong used to sit another bridge fulfilling a similar function, less robust and practical, but exuding an antiquated charm by anyone’s estimation.

Each year, for decades, the island residents of Koh Paen built a seasonal, kilometre-long (1,000m) bamboo bridge for cars and pedestrians to cross the Mekong when the water levels were too low for a ferry. And each year, when the rains swelled the river, the elements would tear it down again.

For local residents, the bridge was a backdrop to daily life since they can remember – only disrupted between 1973 and 1986 with the civil war and emergence of the Khmer Rouge – though the specific history of the bridge remains hard to pinpoint.

Prior to 1973, the bridge was owned collectively by a company established by 14 villagers from the island, according to 74-year-old Nai Seang, speaking to The Post back in 2017. She joined the company in 1964, purchasing two shares for 7,000 riel (approximately $1,500 after adjusting for inflation).

Back then, the bridge was only a foot and bicycle bridge built from locally sourced bamboo, with a 1 riel toll for pedestrians, or 2 riel for a bike (equivalent to $0.19 and $0.37 today, respectively). As the youngest in the company when she joined at the age of 22, she was the sole surviving member.

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The bamboo bridge also serves as a major tourist attraction for both local and international visitors.
 “The knowledge would be passed down from one generation of builders to the next,” she said. While Seang says she never asked the older members of the company about the bridge’s history, she remembers it when she was an infant, which indicates that it dates back to at least the 1940s.

That the bridge has become a tourist attraction was a strange curiosity for Seang. “I did not know the bridge has become such a tourist attraction. I was very young when I bought my shares, and to me it was just a thing that helps people cross the river, and a business,” she says.

But back in March last year, as the concrete monolith neared completion, for the first time in decades the residents of Koh Paen decided against building their bridge as a river crossing for vehicles.

Yung Oun, the owner of the old bamboo bridge, told The Post that it served as a major tourist attraction in the province, for both local and international visitors, so the loss of the bamboo bridge signalled a loss of money for the area too.

To avoid this, last year enterprising locals decided to keep the tradition alive on a smaller scale by building a tourist friendly, pedestrian only bridge as a replacement.

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 “Last year, our new bridge was only 700 metres. This year, we will construct it up to 800 metres,” said 60-year-old Bun Dara, a former Institute of Technology of Cambodia engineer and owner of the new bamboo bridge.

The bridge, built using more than 20,000 bamboo sticks, was officially opened on December 1. It is open from dawn to dusk, including weekends and holidays.

“On a normal day, I see about 30 to 50 people walking across the bridge,” said Dara.

To cross the bridge, pedestrians cost 2,000 riel, a motorbike costs 5,000 riel, a vehicle or tuk-tuk costs 10,000 riel and a larger vehicle costs 20,000 riel.

Source – PhnomPenhPost

 

 

#Malaysia – Triplet families’ double joy

Children dressed up as God of Prosperity giving

GEORGE TOWN: Conceived via “test tube”, two sets of triplets give their families much to celebrate every Chinese New Year.

Assistant manager Chang Peng Hooi, 51, and his wife Goh Siew Leng, 47, recounted having to opt for a “test tube” baby after Chang discovered he had colon cancer.

“We hoped for the best and conceived all three embryos.

“My two boys and daughter were born at 37 weeks into her (Goh’s) pregnancy and they were born healthy.

“They all like different things, and therefore shopping is always fun.

“This year, my wife’s siblings who are based in China will be back for the festivities, so we will be celebrating it with them,” he said.

Chang and Goh’s 12-year-old sons Jia Sheng and Jia Jun and daughter Jia Qi go to school with another set of triplets, who also give their family cause to celebrate each year.

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Wong Boon Keng, 45, and his wife Koay Mooi Shen, 43, who run a wholesale toy business, were blessed with triplets Yin Rou, Yin En and Yin Han via in-vitro fertilisation 12 years ago.

“We consider them miracle babies because they were born premature and although we did have many hospital visits when they were young, they are now three healthy girls.

“We wanted another child as our eldest daughter was turning seven then but we could not conceive.

“We did not realise we would have triplets but it has been a pleasant surprise.

“They are all very different from each other and we also have a younger daughter who is 10, so it is a house full of girls for us.

“Chinese New Year shopping is always a full day event,” said Koay.

Koay said the family usually visits a temple or a tourist site during Chinese New Year.

“Maybe this year we will go to Chew Jetty.

“We seldom visit relatives as everyone comes over to our place,” she said.

When asked if it was an interesting experience having both sets of triplets in the same school, Chang said it was fun as they have been in the same school since Year One and some of them have also been classmates.

Source – TheNation

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#Indonesia – Tourist exodus from Lombok as quake toll hits 98

Lombok Exodus

Mataram, Indonesia – Terrified holidaymakers rushed for boats and planes to leave Indonesia’s Lombok island Tuesday after it suffered a second deadly quake within a week, while rescuers struggled to reach hard-hit areas where survivors are in urgent need of food and shelter.

    The shallow 6.9-magnitude quake killed at least 98 people and destroyed thousands of buildings in Lombok on Sunday, just days after another deadly tremor surged through the holiday island and killed 17.

    Rescuers on Tuesday resumed the search for survivors, and to recover the bodies of victims in the rubble of houses, mosques and schools destroyed in the latest disaster.

    More than 20,000 people are believed to have been made homeless on Lombok, with 236 severely injured, and authorities have appealed for more medical personnel and basic supplies.

    Emergency crews were Tuesday working through the wreckage of a collapsed mosque in the northern village of Lading-Lading, where authorities fear a number of people are trapped.

    At least one body has been recovered from the rubble of the mosque, which was reduced to a pile of concrete and metal bars, with its towering green dome folded in on itself.

Some 4,600 tourists have been evacuated from the Gili Islands, three tiny, coral-fringed tropical islands that lie off the northwest coast of Lombok and are popular with backpackers and divers.

Hundreds crowded onto its powder-white beaches on Monday, desperately awaiting transport off the normally paradise destination. Seven Indonesian holidaymakers died on the largest of the three, Gili Trawangan.

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Margret Helgadottir, a holidaymaker from Iceland, described people screaming as the roof of her hotel on one of the islands collapsed.

“We just froze: thankfully we were outside,” she told AFP tearfully from a harbour in Lombok to where she had been evacuated. “Everything went black, it was terrible.”

Hundreds of weary tourists continued to arrive with their baggage at Bangsal harbour, the main link between Lombok and the Gilis, on Tuesday.

Some said they felt stranded and complained about a lack of coordination and affordable transport to the tourist hub of Senggigi or Lombok’s airport, where dozens slept on the floor overnight awaiting flights out.

“There’s a massive rush of people wanting to get out of Lombok because of unfounded rumours, such as of a tsunami,” Muhammad Faozal, the head of the tourism agency in West Nusa Tenggara province, told AFP.

“We can help tourists to get to the airport but of course we can’t buy them tickets for free,” he said, adding that authorities were providing free accommodation, food and transport to those in need.

Lombok airport’s general manager said airlines had been laying on extra flights since Monday and that his staff had been providing stranded passengers with blankets and snacks.

“We have been doing our best to manage the tourists flocking the airport,” he told AFP. “We are doing our best so we can fly out as many as possible.”

Immigration authorities said that seven foreigners — from Belgium, Britain, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, South Korea and the United States — were injured in the quake and are being treated in hospital.

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Sunday’s shallow tremor sent thousands of residents and tourists scrambling outdoors in Lombok, where many spent the night as strong aftershocks including one of 5.3-magnitude rattled the island.

The quake knocked out power in many areas and parts of the island and remained without electricity on Tuesday.

A lack of heavy equipment and shattered roads have hampered efforts to reach survivors in the mountainous north and east of the island, which had been hardest hit.

Najmul Akhyar, the head of North Lombok district, estimated that 80 percent of that region was damaged by the quake.

Hundreds of bloodied and bandaged victims have been treated outside damaged hospitals in the main city of Mataram and other badly affected areas.

Patients lay on beds under wards set up in tents, surrounded by drip stands and monitors, as doctors in blue scrubs attended to them.

“What we really need now are paramedics, we are short-staffed. We also need medications,” Supriadi, a spokesman for Mataram general hospital, told AFP on Monday.

Indonesia, one of the world’s most disaster-prone nations, straddles the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide and many of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

In 2014, a devastating tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in western Indonesia killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

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China – Overseas tourists to Hainan on the rise

China - Overseas tourists to Hainan on the rise

China’s southern island province of Hainan received 946,000 overseas tourists in the first six months, close to the annual figure of 1.1 million for 2017 thanks to its new visa-free policy, which is yielding positive results since its launch in May, China News Agency reported Monday.

On May 1, the island province started to offer greater visa-free access for tourists from 59 countries to Hainan, expanding from 26 countries previously.

The policy has also boosted the growth of the local aviation industry. In the first half of this year, Hainan opened and resumed 12 international flight routes, increasing the total number of routes to 53.

To date, Hainan has opened air routes with 34 countries among the 59 that enjoy the visa-free policy, such as Italy, Australia, Russia, Japan and countries in Southeast Asia.

HNA airport group, a subsidiary of the Haikou-based Fortune Global 500 company HNA Group, which owns the four airports in Hainan, plans to open 20 international routes with visa-free countries later this year, including to London and St Petersburg.

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“Hainan should launch more tourism products that fit the foreign tourism market, and stabilize tourism product prices during its bleak and peak seasons, and build up the comprehensive strength of its tourism industry,” said Ge Jian, deputy secretary-general for the organization for European and Asian Economic Cooperation.

In 2017, more than 1.1 million foreign tourists visited Hainan, up nearly 50 percent year-on-year. By 2020, the number of overseas tourists to Hainan is expected to exceed 2 million.

The island province recently released a three-year action plan (2018-2020) to enhance the global influence of its tourism sector. According to the plan, Hainan is going to boost its international flight routes to 70 by the end of 2018, and the number will be increase to 100 by 2020.

Measures such as building a global duty-free shopping center and a base for the international MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibitions) industry on the island are also expected to bring in more passengers.

Source – China-Daily

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Hainan is an island province of China and the nation’s southernmost point. It’s known for its tropical climate, beach resorts and forested, mountainous interior. The southern city of Sanya has many beaches that range from 22km-long Sanya Bay to crescent Yalong Bay and its luxury hotels. Outside Sanya, the hilly hiking trails of Yanoda Rainforest Cultural Tourism Zone pass over suspension bridges and by waterfalls.

The Sevenseas (4 Star) Resort, Koh Kradan, Trang Thailand

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The Sevenseas Resort located on the tranquil island of Koh Kradan, The Seven Seas Resort Koh Kradan offers luxurious beachfront accommodation. Free WiFi is available in public areas. Guests can enjoy relaxing treatments at a spa.

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The Seven Seas Resort is an 80-minute long tail boat ride from Pak Meng Pier located at Trang on the mainland. The Pier is about 1-hour drive from #Trang Airport.

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Rooms at The Seven Seas Resort Koh Kradan contain contemporary designs that balance between modern comforts and exotic island luxury. Each air-conditioned room features finely polished floors, dark wood furnishings, open-air bathroom and rain shower.

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Guests can enjoy a cocktail by the resort’s swimming pool while relaxing on a lounger on the wooden deck. 

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Enjoy a soothing massage and rejuvenating body scrub at The Seven Seas Spa, which features open air treatment rooms amid the resort’s gardens.

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The open-air Barnacles Bar is the perfect place to relax during the day or night time for coffee, juice or a cocktail. 

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The Seven Seas Restaurant serves traditional Thai, seafood and innovative international cuisines all day where guests can dine either by the pool or on the beach.

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The Emerald Cove, Koh Chang, Thailand

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Boasting an outdoor pool with stunning views of the ocean, Emerald Cove Koh Chang is located just a few steps away from the private beach. Free WiFi, a spa and a fitness center are also on offer here.

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All rooms are air conditioned and equipped with a flat-screen TV with satellite channels and a refrigerator. Guests can grab a drink from the minibar and sit out on the furnished balcony. The private bathroom comes with bathrobes, a bathtub and free toiletries.

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An airport shuttle, a shuttle service and soothing massages can be arranged upon request at the 24-hour front desk. Other facilities offered at Koh Chang Emerald Cove include a tour desk, luggage storage and a children’s playground. The property also offers free parking.

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Guests can enjoy dining at the on-site restaurants or have evening drinks at the bar. Room service is also available.

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The hotel is 5.6 km from Kai Bae Beach, 8.5 km from Koh Chang National Park and 16 km from White Sand Beach.

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Klong Prao Beach is a great choice for travelers interested in beach walks, tranquility and beaches.

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

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Pullman Phuket Arcadia, Naithon Beach

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Perched on the headland overlooking the Andaman Sea with direct access to Naithon Beach, Pullman Phuket Arcadia Naithon Beach offers guests a tranquil and relaxing getaway. Featuring a spa centre, this luxurious resort boasts 2 outdoor pools, a children’s pool and a a gym. Guests can head to any of the 3 bars, bakery or 2 restaurants on-site.

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The property is a 10-minute drive from Phuket International Airport, a 12-minute drive from Splash Jungle and a 15-minute drive from Blue Canyon Golf Course and Laguna Golf Course. It is a 30-minute drive from Big Buddha and Royal Phuket Marina. Central Festival Department Store and Patong Beach are a 40-minute drive away, while Phuket Aquarium is a 45-minute drive away.

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Soundproof rooms at Pullman Phuket Arcadia are stylishly furnished with contemporary décor. Each one comes equipped with a balcony, a flat-screen cable/satellite TV and an iPod docking station. It has a seating area, a coffee machine and a minibar. Free toiletries are included in an en suite bathroom with a separate bathtub and rain shower.

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Staff at the 24-hour front desk can assist guests with currency exchange, luggage storage and laundry. The hotel also has meeting facilities, a library and a business centre. Other services include a shuttle service and a tour desk.

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Guests can enjoy a variety of international dishes at the restaurant. In-room dining option is available upon request.

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

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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.

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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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Burasari Resort, Patong #Phuket

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The tropical Burasari Resort is on Patong Beach, a 10-minute walk from Jungceylon Shopping Mall.
The resort features free Wi-Fi, 2 outdoor pools and a restaurant.

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Burasari Resort is a 10-minute walk from nightlife district Bangla Road. The resort is a 40-minute drive from Phuket International Airport. Upon request, the hotel provides airport shuttle service for a fee.

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Resort Burasari’s rooms are air-conditioned and have either private balconies or terraces. Satellite TV and a tea and coffee maker are provided in all of the rooms. Guests can also enjoy the free minibar. Some of the rooms feature direct pool access.

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Guests can relax on lounge chairs by the pool and enjoy the surrounding greenery. Spa by Burasari offers traditional Thai massage and beauty treatments. The hotel also has car rental services and a tour desk.

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Kantok Restaurant serves authentic local dishes and a daily breakfast buffet. It features outdoor dining and evening dance performances. Refreshing drinks are served at Misty Bar, Pool Bar and Juice Bar.

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Holiday in Cambodia’s Koh Kong

The narrowest area in Thailand is in the eastern-most province of Trat, about 315 kilometers from Bangkok. It is just 450 metres wide and borders Cambodia’s Koh Kong province – one of the popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. In this photo gallery, we capture beautiful coastlines, green forests and the local way of life on the rapidly developing Cambodian island.  

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Koh Kong is the capital of Koh Kong Province in Cambodia. It is located near the mouth of the Kah Bpow river in Smach Mean Chey district on the Gulf of Thailand. The city lies only 10 kilometres from the Thai border. However, it is 138 kilometres by Highway 48 to National Highway 4 at Sre Ambel and a further 133 kilometres to Phnom Penh. After the completion of the bridges on the Highway 48 in 2007 – 2010 the terrestrial link to Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville has significantly improved.


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Source: BangkokPost
(Photos by Chanat Katanyu)