The Underground Train in Bangkok
Thailand has launched the first underground railway in Bangkok for
public service. The journey begins at Hua Lamphong, then proceeds
to Bang Sue - a total of 18 stations. Included on the route Queen
Sirikit National Convention Centre , Sukhumvit, Petchaburi, Rama
IX and Thailand Cultural Centre.
In all, the journey from Hua Lamphong to Bang Sue takes just 30
minutes, operating daily between 5am-12pm. The trains run every
six minutes during regular hours and every three minutes during
For the inauguration period until August 12, the flat fare is 10
baht, and will afterwards start at 14 baht with 2 baht added for
every station with a maximum fare of 36 baht (subject to reconfirmation).
aboard the Express The Mekong Express boat resumed in July and will
continue operations until the end of March 2005. The odd day s (1,
3, 5, 7 will be from PNH to REP and the even days (2, 4, 6) will
be from REP to PNH. On the 31st of the month, the Mekong Express
boat will run a round-trip from PNH-REP-PNH.
The Myanmar government has simplified visa applications. Travellers
as well as travel agents can now apply for Myanmar visas online.
makes a splash
A kick-start to the Visit Danang Year in 2005 will come from a cultural
sea tourism festival to be held in Danang from July 31 to August
1 this year.
The festival will include many artistic and cultural activities
embracing destinations such as Ba Na Mountain to the fishermen's
villages along the coast. The central attractions will be on the
foothills resort will be BIG on adventure
An exciting new product and destination resort in Myanmar will launch
in October 2005. The Lisu, a luxury 12 bungalow lodge is taking
shape in the foothills of the Himalayas, in the far north of Myanmar.
The lodge has been designed by world famous architect Jean Michel
Gathy, of Aman Resorts fame.
The Lisu will be a jumping off point for multi-day rafting expeditions
on the headwaters of the Ayeyarwaddy River to the north of Putao,
as well as day excursions by raft, kayak, mountain bike or on foot.
At present this area, contains one of the last great areas of subtropical
and montane rainforest in the Himalayas, and is home to both Lisu
and Rawang hill tribes.
Access will be by private air charter service two or three times
a week from early October until the end of April allowing 3, 4 or
7-night stays. Both the lodge and adventure activities will be operated
by Balloons over Bagan, in conjunction with Ultimate Descents of
New Zealand and Hokaido Outdoor Adventures from Japan.
A full product presentation, including pricing and scheduling, will
be made to the Industry in Yangon in September, and the product
will be officially launched outside Myanmar at the PATA Travel Mart
in Bangkok on the September 22, more than one year in advance of
the first operating season.
Eight endangered Mekong River Dolphins have died so far this year,
half the number that died in all of 2003, an expert said Sunday.
Six calves and two adult dolphins, found in southern Laos and northern
Cambodia, have died in the last three months, said Isabel Beasley,
a dolphin expert with the Mekong Dolphin Conservation Project. The
calves died of unknown causes, but the adults were caught in nets,
Storks Saved in Tay Ninh
Two farmers in the southern province of Tay Ninh handed over two
lesser adjutant storks to the Lo Go Xa Mat National Park in early
January. They said they bought these rare and beautiful birds from
poachers. Three species of stork, including the lesser adjutant,
woolly-necked and Asian open bill, are found in small numbers at
the province's national park. All the species are listed as endangered.
The lesser adjutant is the biggest of the three, weighting 5 kg
and standing 120 cm in height.
Rare Gibbon Found in Lam Dong
The central highlands province of Lam Dong on January 13 announced
that the local forestry department has rescued a precious gibbon
in a recent wild animal trafficking case. The newly-found gibbon,
scientifically known as Pygathrix Nigripes (Vooc Va Chan Den), is
listed in the national and international Red Book for Endangered
Species and is the second gibbon of its kind to be discovered in
the province in the last two months. The gibbon is now being cared
for in Cuc Phuong National Park. (Lao Dong)
Provides EUR 469,000 for Wild Bull Preservation in Vietnam
The French Environment Fund Fonds Français pour l'Environnement
Mondial (FFEM) has funded 469,000 euros for Vietnam to carried out
a project to preserve diversification and heredity of Asian wild
bulls in Vietnam. The agreement was signed on January 14 between
French Ambassador to Vietnam and Minister of Agriculture and Rural
Development. The project aims to help the Cat Tien National Park
(Dong Nai), the EASO Natural Reserve and the Yok Don National Park
(Dak Lak) and the Chu Mon Bay National Park (Kon Tum) to effectively
apply hereditary gene preservation methods of two kinds of rare
wild bulls (scientifically known as Bos Gaurus and Bos Javanicus),
which are listed in the country and the region's Red Book of Endangered
Species. The country now has around 650 bulls of these kinds, mainly
in central highlands provinces of Dak Lak and Kon Tum. (Nong Nghiep
Viet Nam - Vietnam Agriculture, January 15,2004; Tien Phong - Pioneer,
January 15, 2004)
Eld's Deer found in dry dipterocarp forests in Lao PDR
Eld's deer (Cervus eldii spp. siamensis), a globally endangered
species indigenous to the dry forests of Cambodia and Laos, was
thought to have been extinct in Lao PDR since 1990. However, in
recent years Wildlife Conservation Society and the Laos Department
of Forestry have observed small populations of Eld's deer in two
Laos provinces. The most recent sighting was of a herd of about
12 deer in Savannakhet province.
Corridor project launched in Vietnam
City, Vietnam - As part of Vietnam's nation-wide effort to conserve
remaining natural forests for future generations, representatives
of Thua Thien Hue People's Committee, WWF Indochina, and the Netherlands
Development Organisation, SNV, today launched in a four-year project
to protect and maintain the high global conservation value of central
Vietnam, in an area referred to as the 'Green Corridor'.
The Green Corridor
is situated between Phong Dien Nature Reserve and Bach Ma National
Park in Thua Thien Hue province in Vietnam. It covers an area of
134,000 ha, comprising the three districts of A Luoi, Nam Dong,
and Huong Thuy. The area's forests are of the highest global conservation
importance and are critical to the integrity of the wider landscape
and the Annamites ecoregion.
evergreen forests are a valuable asset, providing timber and other
products for local communities, protecting watersheds, and ensuring
farmers have supplies of water for farming. They are also resource
for ecotourism and other income-generating activities. The forests
support unique and rare species, many of which are threatened and
found nowhere else in the world. However, much of this forest is
lost or degraded by illegal logging, encroachment and fire; in addition
the wildlife is threatened by illegal hunting and an unsustainable
The global conservation significance of the Green Corridor has been
demonstrated through a systematic assessment of conservation priorities
in Indochina. The assessment demonstrated that the area is vital
for the long-term conservation of many unique species including
saola, Edwards pheasant, Annamite striped rabbit, and Annam partridge.
The area is also of high importance for innumerable other species
including the Asian elephant and tiger.
area's biodiversity is under a number of major threats: unsustainable
extraction of plants and animals for local consumption and the wildlife
trade, forest fires, and loss of forest habitat from forest clearance
and encroachment by agriculture.
The new project, called "Green Corridor - meeting global conservation
targets in a productive landscape", aims to protect and maintain
the conservation value of the landscape in the Green Corridor, and
to establish a model for protection, management, and maintenance
of high biodiversity of global importance in forested areas managed
for multiple uses, including sustainable forest management.
aims to reduce the levels of exploitation and halt the loss of critical
species and forest habitat through effective control mechanisms
and strengthened capacity for conservation management. It will establish
and maintain the productive landscape of the Green Corridor through
locally initiated protection, management and restoration initiatives.
Another outcome of the project is that the biodiversity value of
the Green Corridor will be secured through development of informed
policies and responsible planning measures which can be replicated
at other sites.
The project is funded by the Global Environmental Facilities (GEF)
through the World Bank, with co-financing from the Vietnamese Government,
WWF Indochina, and the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV).
Altogether, funds total over US$2 million.
The Green Corridor
project will work in a partnership with relevant programmes of the
Vietnamese government such as the Five Million Hectare Reforestation
Programme, the Central Annamites Conservation Action Plan, and other
projects and programmes of international organisations to effectively
conserve the Green Corridor area. The project will use existing
institutions and mechanisms in the project area for implementation
to ensure that institutional sustainability will be secured. The
project will also work with forest managers, local communities and
provincial government, including sectoral development planners.
Mr Nguyen Ngoc Thien, vice-chairman of the Thua Thien Hue provincial
People's Committee, Mr Eric Coull, representative of WWF Indochina,
and Mr Harm Duiker, representative of the SNV, signed the final
project agreement today at the Huong Giang Hotel in Hue.
In his opening
speech at the ceremony, Mr Thien emphasised the importance of biodiversity
of the Green Corridor area and expressed his high appreciation of
the project, first jointly initiated by WWF Indochina and the Thua
Thien Hue Forest Protection Department. Mr Thien also expressed
the strong commitment of the Provincial People's Committee towards
working closely with and supporting the project management board
to achieve the project goal and objectives.
Biodiversity conservation across larger scales such as ecoregions
and landscapes is a new approach in Vietnam that was introduced
by WWF in the late 1990s. The Annamites ecoregion is one of WWF's
Global 200 ecoregions - a science-based global ranking of the world's
most biologically outstanding habitats and the regions on which
WWF concentrates its effort.
WWF is now testing
and applying a number of approaches and tools for implementing landscape-based
conservation in Quang Nam province, in forest areas contiguous with
the Green Corridor. The lessons learned from this project and other
similar projects in Vietnam and the region have been used in the
design of the Green Corridor project.
doubt, the project will be a bold and significant step in providing
additional resources to demonstrate that by improving the management
of productive landscape, global targets can be met while sustaining
benefits to local communities," said Eric Coull from WWF Indochina.
"WWF is committed to be a learning organisation by sharing
knowledge and responsibility to preserve, protect and indeed increase
Vietnam's forest cover for the best overall benefit."
Accor on the
One of the world's biggest hotel management groups, Accor, is poised
to bring a brand name hotel to the shores of Ha Long bay, the first
of its kind at the popular tourist destination. The 134-room hotel
and 24 villas will bear the Mercure name.
The project will be Accor's second in Ha Long bay, bringing the
number of hotels it manages in Vietnam to 10. Two months ago, Accor
won another contract to run a Novotel hotel at the bay with 193
Vinasun Corp., which operates restaurant, tourism and taxi services,
will build two resorts in central provinces of Binh Thuan and Quang
The first project is a 4ha resort located in Mui Ne in Phan Thiet,
the capital city of Binh Thuan province. It is scheduled for opening
The other resort will cover 8ha in Tam Thanh commune, Tam Ky district,
adjacent to the Chu Lai Open Economic Zone.
First for Hoi
Located right on the 450m long Golden Sand Beach, the Golden Sand
Resort, which is planned to open in July, will be Hoi An's first
five-star resort. It will feature 212 rooms, a fitness centre, a
swimming pool, two tennis courts, a gymnasium, a spa, as well as
conference and meeting facilities for up to 350.
Director's Hotel Picks in Myanmar
Yangon: The Governors Residence (formerly Pansea Hotel) unique,
top quality, colonial style hotel. Excellent east meets west cuisine.
Hotel. Fabulous location on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. Local-style
bungalow hotel with extensive gardens and spa. The best in Bagan.
River view suites are especially recommended.
Hotel. Modern, central first-class hotel overlooking the Mandalay
mould and the Mandalay Palace.
Inle Lake: Inle
Princess Resort. Unbeatable charm on the lake shore. Each chalet
has its own terrace overlooking the lake or garden.
Sandoway Villas at Sandoway Resort. The resort opened in 2000 and
in February this year added the Sandoway Villas. The most fashionable
resort in Myanmar's most prestigious beach location has an original,
contemporary design embracing five two-storey beachfront cottages
and 15 village cottages. Eleven deluxe rooms of the same design
and amenities as the village cottages are terraced facing the garden.
No TV. No in-room telephones. No newspapers. Hey, this is a seriously
peaceful place. Note: Sandoway Resort is closed from mid-May to
The Lotus Angkor
Hotel located on road No 6 is due to open in November with 72 rooms
in the first stage. An additional 36 rooms will be added February
2005. The 108 rooms will be composed of eight suites and 100 large
deluxe rooms (40sqm) with traditional Cambodian style decoration.
The hotel has a semi open-air lobby, one restaurant with an outside
terrace facing the 25m pool, souvenir shop, business centre, a fitness
centre and a huge tropical garden.
hotel picks in Cambodia
Phnom Penh: The Bougainvillier Hotel is a boutique hotel overlooking
the Mekong and Tonle rivers on the quay. With 14 rooms and stylish
decoration, the Bougainvillier is perfect for FIT who are looking
for a small, charming hotel located in the city centre.
Siem Reap: Villa
Loti is a new yet traditional Khmer villa. An elegant wood and brick
country house of just 10 rooms. Located along the Siem Reap River
on the way to the Angkor temple, it is a stone's throw from the
old market. La Villa Loti is decorated with authentic Khmer furniture.
On the first floor the four bedrooms open onto a large shaded terrace,
which can be enjoyed privately but invites equally to a peaceful
discussion with the other guests. Four rooms on the ground floor
have direct access to the garden. Recommend for FIT who are looking
for an authentic and peaceful place to stay in Siem Reap.
hotel's graceful colonial architecture of the 1930s provides a sense
of peaceful and tranquillity. Ideally located in the heart of Siem
Reap facing the Royal gardens, the Hotel Victoria Angkor is a new
deluxe hotel that belongs to the Victoria Group.
The La Residence
d'Angkor (previously Pansea Angkor) is a deluxe, boutique hotel
which features fascinating Khmer architecture. Located on the Siem
Reap River, it is surrounded by majestic old trees. A wonderful
and highly recommended address in Siem Reap. This hotel also provides
a luxurious swimming pool. The Pansea Angkor is a haven of tranquillity,
comfort, artistry and beauty.
Angkor brings world-class accommodation and facilities to the magnificent
Angkor World Heritage site. The resort is the closest hotel to the
monument complex. Fine cuisine, a luxurious health spa and swimming
pool, gracious rooms and suites, and impeccable service. The perfect
place to stay and relax after a visit of Angkor Wat for FIT or group.
Sihanoukville: The Sokha Beach Hotel & Resort is the first resort
in Sihanoukville, located on its own private beach. Only 230km south
of Phnom Penh, the 4-star resort blends elegance and comfort blend
with an atmosphere of tropical ease. There are 180 stylishly appointed
rooms and suites with modern amenities. Private balconies have garden
or ocean views.
Stay at the Tamarind Village, a very cosy place right downtown,
within walking distance of every major temple, the night market,
the river, restaurants etc. The Tamarind Village is "only"
a 3-star resort but is built like a temple compound, with simple
neo-Thai style rooms. This would be our choice of accommodation
for a short stay in the northern capital.
and resorts in Asia is now promoted under the Pansea Orient-Express
Pansea Orient-Express Hotels was formed at the start of 2004 by
the partnership of Pansea Hotels & Resorts and Orient-Express
October 2004 there will be direct flights from Bagan and Heho (Inle
Lake) to Ngapali Beach, avoiding time-consuming transit through
Bangkok Airways is now operating daily non-stop flights between
Bangkok and Yangon.
From October, PB Air, in a code-share with Thai Airways International,
will resume operations of its twice-weekly direct flights from Bangkok
to Bagan on Wednesdays and Saturdays. This rotation will continue
through the high season until March 2005.
July 1 to August 31, Siem Reap Airways has suspend the flight FT
702 between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (12:15/13:00) and FT 995 between
Siem Reap and Phnom Penh (13:35/14:20) (Except on August 6/10/14/16/20).
Siem Reap Airways still operates the two daily flights:
PNH/REP - FT 990 (06:45/07:30) and FT996 (15:05/15:50)
REP/PNH - FT 701 (08:05/08:50) and FT703 (16:25/17:10)
Siem Reap Airways International implemented a fuel surcharge effective
from July 16 until further notice as follows:
International sector (issued outside Thailand): USD 7 / sector
International sector (issued in Thailand): THB 280 / sector
Address: P O
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Tel: +(44) (0)973 231 446,
The Mekong Club
is an informal, non-political, non-commercial association, primarily
concerned with promotion of the cultures of the "Mekong Region"
(i.e. Viet Nam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and adjacent regions) in
the UK. The Club will act as a forum for exchange of information
and experience by:
- The promotion
of social and cultural events, tutorial groups and other meetings
of a world wide web page and an address list for circulars on
'events and ideas'.
open to all, but it is envisaged that the club will be of particular
from the Mekong Region living in the UK, with particular encouragement
given to 2nd and 3rd generation family members.
- British (and
other European) citizens wishing to maintain in contact with people
and issues in the Mekong Region.
from the Region needing temporary support whilst in the UK.
in the Mekong Region, wishing to develop contacts in the UK.
The Club will
be organised by a chairperson, secretariat and webmaster, with a
single, annual business meeting combined with a social event. The
secretariat will be responsible for financial stewardship, with
a "minimal" fund consisting of contributions for individual events
and newsletters. An annual membership fee of £5 is envisaged per
adult. For further details, please write or telephone the above
Mekong Club Application:
would like to join the Mekong Club
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