Manual THE AWARENESS and other deadly tales

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Only mosquitoes that have already bitten an infected person can carry the disease. Dengue typically brings on high fevers, headaches plus muscle and joint pain. Doctors or hospitals cannot kill or stop the virus in infected patients, and can only treat the symptoms. Only the more serious, and much rarer dengue hemorrhagic fever is life-threatening and requires hospitalization.

Most people have little choice but to sweat it out for four or five days till recovery, whether in a hospital or at home. If you meet expatriate foreigners who have lived in Phuket for five or more years chances are they will have already have suffered the disease Phuket waters are, happily, largely free of stinging jellyfish and other marine stingers.

THE AWARENESS and other deadly tales

Small jellyfish sometimes cause itchy irritations. The seriously bad guys, the box jellyfish that can kill man, have been recorded on this coast — but rarely. They are believe to prefer the sheltered east coast of Phuket and other Andaman island to the open waters of the popular west coast beaches. The only recorded fatality on the Andaman coast was in Koh Lanta , where an 11 year-old Swedish girl was killed by what is believed to be a box jellyfish presumably chironex fleckeri , the most deadly variety in More recorded stingings by jellyfish of the two dangerous families — chironex and Irukandji — have been reported in the calmer waters of the Gulf of Thailand, where at least six fatalities have been recorded since year , along with perhaps scores of non-fatal stingings.

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A few Gulf islands have begun to place warnings about box jellyfish along the beaches, plus bottles of vinegar for treating stings. On Koh Mak, where in a young Australian boy barely survived an attack, a few resorts even place jellyfish nets to allow guests to swim in safety. Authorities in Koh Samui have begun urging hotels to use such nets too, following two deaths by jellyfish there in In Phuket, where millions have been swimming for years without serious incident , small jellyfish occasionally deliver minor stings, while sea lice have a bite that is more itchy than painful.

If either of these is present, wearing a thin T-shirt is usually enough to avoid discomfort though protection from the dangerous box jellyfish types requires use of a full-body lycra suit. See the full statistics and locations of deaths by box jellyfish on Thai beaches here. First the good news Mosquitoes, however, are found everywhere in the tropics, and you cannot escape them completely on Phuket.

There is no malaria here, though there is a small danger from dengue fever in some seasons. Remember that the mosquito that carries this nasty, though rarely fatal disease, is a tiny, fast-flying menace that comes out during the day, making a high-pitched buzz. These retire after dark. The mosquitoes that sometimes bite ankles or arms around sundown are usually an annoyance, but not a serious danger. The only snake you are likely to see in Phuket is one in a snake show, of which there are many set up specifically to attract tourists.

The island does have snakes, though the great majority of them have been eaten, for they are on the dinner menu of rural people here. The only snake a tourist will occasionally see near a resort hotel is the Paradise Tree Snake, shown here.

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This non-venomous, harmless little guy is an expert climber, slithering his way around trees and buildings looking for his favourite food, geckos. This snake can flatten its body and glide from tree to tree, and is famous as the world's only 'flying snake'. There are a few amateur herpetologists on the island , with some of them including this writer breeding various pythons, boas and exotic snakes.

Reptile enthusiasts can contact this group through www. Again, Phuket has spiders, but you probably won't see anything but harmless jumping spiders or orb web spiders in the gardens around your hotel. There are no known deadly spiders here that you need worry about. There are, however, plenty of tropical insects.

If you leave your hotel windows open at night, there is a good chance that a visitor in some strange shape and colour will call into your room.


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Save for people with a phobia of bugs and insects, there is little to worry about. This writer has lived between Bangkok and Phuket for 40 years, and despite clambering through trees and bushes in search of photographs of great views and interesting bugs, has only been bitten by one spider, and by this unfriendly-looking centipede.

This found its way into my Phuket bed and bit into my back when I rolled onto it. It caused one hour of intense pain only. But don't worry, no-one else has ever heard of centipedes in Phuket beds before.

The crime rate in Thailand is not particularly high , and random crime against unknown parties, including street crime, is rare. There is more theft in workplaces and corruption in government offices that violence or crime in or near hotels. However, major tourist centres do attract criminals , and there are bad guys out there who specifically target tourists.

In Thailand the most common means of taking money from tourists is by befriending them and trying to fool them into a scam of some kind.

In Phuket scams involving jewellery are the most common. Everyone should take all normal precautions at all times See our notes on shopping for jewellery in Phuket. The drivers of Phuket's little tuk-tuk taxis hold a mafia-like grip on Phuket island, one that the government has tried to break several times, and failed. These drivers are famous for their greed, charging the highest transport prices in Thailand — about ten times the price of a Bangkok taxi for any given distance. Their philosophy is to make as few trips each day as possible, while extorting the highest price per trip possible.

When no other means of transport is available, tourists are forced to pay these exorbitant prices. The danger arises when tuk-tuk drivers try to charge more than agreed prices, and customers object. Fights between drivers and customers are quite common, and an embarrassment to Thailand that the government recognizes but will not deal with.

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If you want to move around the island often it is generally better to rent your own car or motorcycle. As we have warned in our page about Patong's wild nightlife in Soi Bangla , Phuket's flamboyant lady-boys kratoeys in Thai do pose some threats to certain tourists.


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This becomes particularly true in the early morning hours when single men under the influence of alcohol are still hanging around Patong looking for fun or a companion. Often the foreign tourist is too drunk to realise that the beautiful 'girl' he has chosen is only a girl on the outside. Back in the hotel room, when drunk tourist faces a new reality about his new 'girlfriend', there's a moment of shock and horror, and perhaps violence.

Sometimes this most common of Patong scenarios ends up in a real fight, one that the kratoey and his nearby gang of friends don't lose. Commission agents come in all disguises — male or female, young and old — with the single intent of making foreign visitors part with their money.

Introducing tourists to shopping opportunities might seem innocuous enough — or even appear helpful to some — but beware. That commission comes, of course, from the unsuspecting tourist, who pays inflated prices for the goods in these shops. If you ask to go to another place they will claim that your chosen store is closed for renovations, or even out of business.

They often make up tales of great stock reduction sales, or other lies about opportunities for great bargains at that particular time. Some tales of successful and unsuccessful mudflats rescues have worked their way into the local mythology. Many have heard the story of the duck hunter who was stuck in the mud on either Knik or Turnagain arm, in the s or s, depending on who tells it, and was pulled in half by a helicopter, leaving the lower half of his body in the mud.

Some locals remember the incident vividly. There is no evidence it ever happened, but the story has become an Alaska legend. Hancock, the diver, said the story may be based on a rescue attempt on Turnagain Arm in the late '60s. As a young firefighter with the Girdwood fire department, he remembers hearing about a hunter who drowned when rescuers were unable to free him.

A helicopter may have been involved, he said. On Sept. According to an interview with one of the rescuers, published in The Anchorage Times in , the barrel of his shotgun was removed and held for him to breathe through, but he was panicked and eventually drowned. The next day, the story reported, a recovery crew tied a rope around him and a helicopter tried to pull him out.

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The rope broke from the strain, possibly giving rise to the legend. Like Cashin, he was out for a day of duck hunting. And he'd hunted in the area most of his life. I've been stuck before. I knew exactly what to expect. One leg went down and, trying to push myself up, both went down. I ended up chest deep. It seemed like it didn't take any time at all. The story of how Chain was finally pulled from the mud by the helicopter was told in a Reader's Digest article. It took 45 minutes of Chain digging himself out as the chopper pulled on him.

Let me tell you, it didn't happen. It was a slow process," he said. I knew that and I was always careful. Hell, you step into a hole and it's just unforeseeable. Adeana Dickison's death has prompted Anchorage area rescue agencies to think hard about techniques for rescuing such victims. The Girdwood and MatSu fire departments both have portable pumps which have successfully washed people out of the mud in the past. But in Dickison's case the water was too high, by the time paramedics arrived, for the pump to do any good. The question asked most often by second guessers is "why didn't they cut her leg off?