TRAVEL & TOURISM
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Skal members learn all about coffee

Bangkok Airways to begin one way flights to Angkor Wat

A northerner visits Pattaya

 

Skal members learn all about coffee

Skal’s July gathering was held at the Chedi Hotel where members learned all about the award winning locally grown Nacha coffee.

Over forty members of Skal club (Thailand- Northern chapter) and their guests gathered at the elegant Chedi hotel for a delicious Indian food feast.
The evening started with attendees gathering next to the sculpted terracotta pond hall that is attached to what used to be the old British Consulate and is now part of the Chedi hotel, sipping cocktails and wines, chatting and getting to know each other.
The guest speaker for the evening was Khun Chanon Poncharoenkul who made a brief presentation on his award winning Nacha coffee. He explained how a locally grown coffee, hand picked from their coffee plantations in Doi Saket, grown in an organic way with great care, roasted and packaged in Chiangmai went on to win an international award: the Asian Best coffee of 2007. Nacha coffee was served for a tasting of this really smooth and fine winning brew. Gift bags of the Nacha coffee were distributed to all attendees.
After the presentation, a delicious dinner was served to everybody’s’ delight. The menu: a selection of exquisite variety of Indian dishes like Machi Tikka, Murgh Tikka Masala, Terka Dal, not to forget the Rasmalie dessert and the famous Indian masala chai (tea).
The Skal club dinner for the month of August will be held at the recently re-located Buonnissimo’s restaurant along the Mae Ping River.
For more information about the next month’s dinner or about joining Skal club, please contact Khun Armin by e-mail: [email protected]

 

Bangkok Airways to begin one way flights to Angkor Wat

According to a press release from Bangkok Airways, commencing from October 29th, Bangkok Airways will launch a new air link from Chiang Mai to Siem Reap (Angkor Wat), shortcutting a transit in Bangkok to facilitate high season traffic.
The airline continues to strengthen its network in the region by making access to cultural landmarks such as Angkor Wat more readily available.
Bangkok Airways will operate flights twice a week on Thursdays and Saturdays on the 70 seat ATR72. The flight leaves Chiang Mai at 16:10 hrs and arrives at Siem Reap at 18:30 hrs. This flight is specifically a one way flight. For more information or reservation, please call 1771 or visit their website at www.bangkokair.com.


A northerner visits Pattaya

Mark Arar
Despite the fact that most foreign residents of Chiang Mai are convinced of their city’s superiority to Pattaya as a place to live, it is occasionally tempting to head down to the shores of the Gulf of Thailand to check out what is going on there.
With that in mind, I recently spent a week in the self-styled “Extreme City” and found it to have visibly changed from my last visit over a year ago. Firstly, there is construction going on every-where, some of which has resulted in shopping malls, hotels and residences that are more modern and attractive than the ones they replaced. Particularly in the more established part of town, there is a freshness about the facilities that confirms Pattaya’s broad popularity and affluence.
Out towards Jomtien, there has also been a lot of face-lifting, as well as tremendous amounts of new building on what had formerly been open space. The net effect is a “boomtown” atmosphere and a noticeable upgrading and diversification of dining and residential options near what was formerly a relatively sleepy beach. Of course, these developments may be viewed negatively by some, especially since they have increased the noise levels, traffic and sewage treatment problems which are a chronic challenge in a growing city.
Ironically, the surge in tourist-related facilities in Pattaya seems not to have been accompanied by a proportional increase in visitors. In fact, even during the recent Thai holiday weekend, there was a notable lack of crowds, except on the bar and club-filled Walking Street in South Pattaya. During the preceding week, the streets were eerily quiet, even in the nightlife districts, with staff outnumbering customers in many outlets. Of course, this seems to be the case in Chiang Mai as well, with low occupancy rates at hotels, and sharply diminished numbers of foreign visitors.
Pattaya’s hotel prices have been adjusted down to reflect the over-supply, but property purchase prices, as in Chiang Mai, are still trending upward, as developable land gets scarcer and condos remain an attractive investment option, both for foreigners and for Thais who are unable to invest freely outside the country.
Food prices, particularly for Western food and restaurant meals, are 50% higher than what is available in Chiang Mai, but the variety and ease of access are superior, particularly for seafood. Thai food is available at modest prices, but only if one goes directly to public markets to get it.
Transport within the city is reasonably priced, but sometimes inconvenient due to the large number of one-way streets and the ban on air-conditioned taxis (except for trips outside the city). Getting to Pattaya by metered taxi from Suvarnabhumi Airport now costs 1000 baht (plus tolls) and 1200 baht from Don Muang Airport. There is construction on the Motorway from Bangkok, so the trip usually exceeds two hours. It would be great if the budget airlines would fly into Pattaya’s U-tapao Airport directly from Chiang Mai, but for now, that doesn’t seem to be under consideration.