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PHUKET: Making (and often immediately breaking) New Year’s resolutions is an age-old tradition all over the world as we pass from one year into the next. Hope, and its close cousin, self delusion, are abundant at this time of year as we promise to be better and brighter versions of ourselves.

In Phuket, in fact you get not just one, but three clear chances to make and then try to keep your resolutions, as Thailand munificently celebrates three separate New Years!

On January 1 of course, we enter the year 2013 (guess the Mayans got it wrong after all in their predicted world-ending apocalypse) on the Gregorian or Western calendar.

Then on February 10 we’ll celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year’s Day as we enter the Year of the Water Snake, a creature known to be resolute and determined in the Chinese Zodiacal Pantheon.

Finally, Thai Buddhist New Year’s Day, or Songkran, will be celebrated on April 13 giving us another great opportunity not only to make resolutions, but to get a free bath or shower, as water is thrown about with gay abandon all over the Pearl of the Andaman.

With ample opportunity to make resolutions, let’s take a look at some of the most common things people promise they are going to do and how to stick to these resolves in Phuket.

Health and fitness
This one is a biggie of course, as we all want to be seen on Phuket’s beaches looking trim, muscular and sexy. And yet, as all New Year’s festivals are celebrated with social gatherings featuring lashings of great food and drink, this can be a challenge.

Phuket, however, is a great place for exercise and getting outdoors, jogging on beaches, swimming, hiking mountain trails, cycling, sailing, playing golf, scuba diving, or taking a yoga, Zumba or aerobics class.

So, no matter how much wonderful food you eat, in Phuket there’s an abundance of ways to turn that calorific intake into lean rippling muscle.

Kindness and consideration

These important qualities are of course important central tenets of Buddhism and so they are often part of everyday life in Phuket.

Thailand has historically been known for its consideration towards other people and welcoming foreigners to its shores. Yet, in the tumult of making a living these days, people often forget to be kind and generous towards each other. And of course, the behavior on Phuket’s roads could most certainly benefit from us all being more considerate and kindly to other road users!

So, this New Year let’s all remind ourselves to be kind to others as a great way of being kind to ourselves.

Smile and the world smiles with you

It’s been proven scientifically that smiling and laughing, even for no particular reason, releases endorphins – those happy, feel-good chemicals – into your blood stream.

So, here’s yet another reason for sharing your gorgeous smile with everyone you meet this New Year.

Of course, Thailand is known as “The Land of Smiles” for the way in which locals express almost everything from humor to embarrassment through a smile.

Join the fun in 2013 and get your gnashers whitened at one of Phuket’s abundant cosmetic dentistry clinics and then get your gleaming new smile into full time operation!

Enjoy a glass (or two) of wine

Yes, more great scientific news proves that a couple of glasses of red wine releases a tide of polyphenols into your blood stream, which then mop up free radicals.

Responsible drinking is actually good for you, and, as Phuket has a thriving wine culture, there are abundant wine stores, wine dinners and tastings in which to give your health a boost by responsibly imbibing fine red wines.

Save Phuket, save the world

You are doubtless bored with hearing about the awful environmental plight of our planet and our little island corner of it. And with those political worthies unable to make any progress at the latest global environmental bun-fest in Doha, it’s up to us – the little people – to make a difference.

Here are three things you can easily do to help save Phuket in 2013:

1) Buy a bicycle and ride on every occasion you can when you can avoid the combustion engine. (In the Phuket Gazette’s Blazing Saddles column you can find regular tips about riding your bicycle around Phuket.)

2) Buy a rucksack and take it with you shopping to bring home your purchases rather than taking a plastic bag.

3)
Turn off every power source in your house every time you go out – this will save you money and help the planet.

So, you can see that resolutions can be enjoyable and happiness-generating things, and with no less than three New Years in Phuket in which to make them, we are blessed indeed.

— Baz Daniel