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Diving at Hin Daeng and Hin Muang

Posted by Rattana_S On February - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Diving in Hin Daeng and Hin Muang is, for many divers that are familiar with Thailand, the best there is outside of the Similan Islands. Mostly these 2 huge, remote, deep water rocks are discussed in terms of the frequency of sightings of manta rays and whale sharks but they promise a lot more besides.

With exceptionally colourful soft corals, vast schools of trevallies, as well as barracuda, reef sharks and countless species of reef fish, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are 2 dive sites which provide an excellent and convenient option for shorter liveaboard trips. The area lies within Thailand’s Mu Koh Lanta National Marine Park.


Hin Daeng (Red Rock) – This is a submerged boulder pinnacle where, looking at the bare rocks above water, you would have no idea that it is such a beautiful dive site below water. Healthy soft corals in various shades of red are all around here and plenty of small scale action goes on. One of the most impressive sights is that of a silver wall of trevally cruising past.

However, diving at Hin Daeng is not always about paying attention to the foreground since there are frequent sightings of graceful mantas swooping by and overhead. There will be no mistaking the presence of a whale shark should you be lucky enough to be there at the right time since the tank banging and mood of excitement will alert you to the arrival of this most awesome fish.

Hin Muang (Purple Rock) – Here you will find Thailand’s highest vertical wall, bejewelled with vibrant purple soft corals. One side of the submerged rock levels out at around 60 metres and the other disappears into the abyss. Vast carpets of anemones cover shallower sections of the reef while sea fans cling precariously to the steep walls.

Hin Muang is good for big fish, but also for macro life. Don’t be surprised to see a photographer focusing on some tiny critter on the rock, happily oblivious to a manta ray soaring overhead. Grey reef sharks and leopard sharks are often seen patrolling the depths. Due to its relative greater depth, Hin Muang lies in waters beyond the reach of the Thai diving masses and so tends to be less crowded.

How to Dive Hin Daeng – Muang

Hin Daeng and Hin Muang diving trips are available in several ways. 1 option is to take a liveaboard dive safari; either a trip covering all the best of Thailand’s west coast which also includes sites in the Similans and Richelieu Rock, or alternatively you can take a shorter trip which focuses on this southern area and includes the best diving around Phi Phi Island.

Daily speedboat trips from Phi Phi can also whisk you down the 90 km or so to visit these sites.

Diving Season

Diving in Hin Daeng and Hin Muang is between November and April when the weather is at its most stable.

Reef Summary

Good for: Large animals, reef life and health, underwater photography, visibility and advanced divers
Not so good for: Wrecks, beginner divers, snorkelling and non-diving activities
Depth: 5 – >40m
Visibility: 15 – 40m
Currents: Can be strong
Surface conditions: Can be rough
Water temperature: 27 – 30°C
Experience level: Intermediate – advanced
Number of dive sites: 2
Distance: ~100 km southeast of Phuket (5 hours), 90 km south of Phi Phi (2½ hours)
Access: Liveaboards from Phuket, and day trips from Phi Phi
Recommended length of stay: 1 – 2 days

Asus Fonepad is a 7-inch tablet that can make calls

Posted by Rattana_S On February - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Barcelona (Mashable) — Didn’t we tell you that the lines between smartphones and tablets are blurred? Case in point: the Asus Fonepad, a 7-inch tablet that’s also a phone.

Beware: the Fonepad is a completely different device than the PadFone Infinity. There’s no smartphone-becomes-tablet witchery here; the Fonepad is a 7-inch tablet, powered by Android 4.1 and sporting a 3G chip. You can use it to make calls, although we don’t think a 7-inch device is ideal for the task.

The Fonepad looks pretty much exactly like Google’s Nexus 7, which is hardly surprising since Asus makes that device as well.

However, the Fonepad is very different from most other Android tablets in a one important way: it’s powered by the new Intel Atom Z2420 processor (for comparison, the Nexus 7 is powered by ARM’s Cortex-A9 CPU).

Intel vice president Hermann Eul claims the processor “delivers the power, performance and flexibility required to accommodate a range of devices and market needs.” However, the actual CPU model in the Fonepad is a single-core Atom clocked to 1.2GHz, which doesn’t inspire confidence. With our short time with the Fonepad, we’ve tested Eul’s claim, and we can say that the Fonepad feels snappy, on par with other tablets of its size of the iOS and Android variety.

Other specs include a 1280×800 7-inch IPS screen, 8/16GB of storage (expandable via SD memory cards), and a 3-megapixel camera that can record 720p video. All of that is crammed into a case that weighs 340g and is 10.4mm thick.

The device will be available from March 2013, with prices starting at €219 ($286) for the 8GB version.

How do you like the Fonepad? Would you buy an Intel-powered Android tablet? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Low-key departure as pope steps down

Posted by Rattana_S On February - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

(Reuters) – Pope Benedict slips quietly from the world stage on Thursday after a private last goodbye to his cardinals and a short flight to a country palace to enter the final phase of his life “hidden from the world”.

In keeping with his shy and modest ways, there will be no public ceremony to mark the first papal resignation in six centuries and no solemn declaration ending his nearly eight-year reign at the head of the world’s largest church.

His last public appearance will be a short greeting to residents and well-wishers at Castel Ganendolfo, the papal summer residence south of Rome, in the late afternoon after his 15-minute helicopter hop from the Vatican.

When the resignation becomes official at 8 p.m. Rome time (02.00 p.m. EST), Benedict will be relaxing inside the 17th century palace. Swiss Guards on duty at the main gate to indicate the pope’s presence within will simply quit their posts and return to Rome to await their next pontiff.

Avoiding any special ceremony, Benedict used his weekly general audience on Wednesday to bid an emotional farewell to more than 150,000 people who packed St Peter’s Square to cheer for him and wave signs of support.

With a slight smile, his often stern-looking face seemed content and relaxed as he acknowledged the loud applause from the crowd.

“Thank you, I am very moved,” he said in Italian. His unusually personal remarks included an admission that “there were moments … when the seas were rough and the wind blew against us and it seemed that the Lord was sleeping”.


Once the chair of St Peter is vacant, cardinals who have assembled from around the world for Benedict’s farewell will begin planning the closed-door conclave that will elect his successor.

One of the first questions facing these “princes of the Church” is when the 115 cardinal electors should enter the Sistine Chapel for the voting. They will hold a first meeting on Friday but a decision may not come until next week.

The Vatican seems to be aiming for an election by mid-March so the new pope can be installed in office before Palm Sunday on March 24 and lead the Holy Week services that culminate in Easter on the following Sunday.

In the meantime, the cardinals will hold daily consultations at the Vatican at which they discuss issues facing the Church, get to know each other better and size up potential candidates for the 2,000-year-old post of pope.

There are no official candidates, no open campaigning and no clear front runner for the job. Cardinals tipped as favorites by Vatican watchers include Brazil’s Odilo Scherer, Canadian Marc Ouellet, Ghanaian Peter Turkson, Italy’s Angelo Scola and Timothy Dolan of the United States.


Benedict, a bookish man who did not seek the papacy and did not enjoy the global glare it brought, proved to be an energetic teacher of Catholic doctrine but a poor manager of the Curia, the Vatican bureaucracy that became mired in scandal during his reign.

He leaves his successor a top secret report on rivalries and scandals within the Curia, prompted by leaks of internal files last year that documented the problems hidden behind the Vatican’s thick walls and the Church’s traditional secrecy.

After about two months at Castel Gandolfo, Benedict plans to move into a refurbished convent in the Vatican Gardens, where he will live out his life in prayer and study, “hidden to the world”, as he put it.

Having both a retired and a serving pope at the same time proved such a novelty that the Vatican took nearly two weeks to decide his title and form of clerical dress.

He will be known as the “pope emeritus,” wear a simple white cassock rather than his white papal clothes and retire his famous red “shoes of the fisherman,” a symbol of the blood of the early Christian martyrs, for more pedestrian brown ones.

(Reporting By Tom Heneghan; editing by Philip Pullella and Giles Elgood)

Thaksin suit against Sondhi dismissed

Posted by Rattana_S On February - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

The Min Buri Court on Thursday dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra against People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) co-leader Sondhi Limthongkul and five other people for issuing a statement pointing out the shortcomings of his government.

According to the lawsuit, the six defendants on March 28, 2008 issued a statement criticising the then government of Samak Sundaravej for planning to amend Sections 237 of the 2007 constitution to prevent the People Power Party from being dissolved for electoral fraud and Section 309 to clear all graft accusations made against Thaksin by the Assets Scrutiny Committee, appointed by military after the Sept 19, 2006 coup.

The statement also stressed a case in which Thaksin was sentenced to two years imprisonment by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division against Holders of Political Positions for violating the National Anti-Corruption Act in connection with the Ratchadapisek land case.

It also criticised the Thaksin government for using harsh measures in drugs suppression, causing the death of about 2,600 people and privatising state enterprises such as PTT to benefit certain groups of people.

The court dismissed the lawsuit, reasoning that it was normal for the defendants to have criticised and pointed out alleged mistakes and shortcomings by a wellknown public figure in charge of the country’s administration.