Sunday, again. Time for Bangkok to slow down and take a much-needed breath.
As we race towards the end of October, it seems almost unthinkable that high season and the annual mega-influx of tourists will be upon us again in a matter of weeks. Time seems to pass so much faster in Thailand than in the West.
But right now we’re reflecting on the past week rather than contemplating the near future.
We’re still in mourning for the late King Bhumibol, and Bangkok’s streets are still full with black-clad figures. Much of the news this week has revolved around the remembrance of the King and the mass-cancellation of a number of public events in the near future.
But there’s still been plenty of chatter, blogs and social media updates keeping Bangkok occupied. Let’s take a look at the best of them…
Thailand has seen a fair few sensationalist stories this week revolving around people attacking — whether verbally or physically — others who they deem not reverential enough about the King. This article is a much needed antidote to those tales, summarising the random acts of kindness seen on the streets of Bangkok in the last couple of weeks — including free motorbike taxi rides, free food and people making black ribbons for others. Seems to us like a perfect way to honour the memory of King Bhumibol.
Here’s a quick rundown of what the Tourism Authority of Thailand have advised visitors of during the mourning period.
The advice borders on the vague — “Visitors should refrain from conducting any inappropriate or disrespectful behavior” — but a little common sense and ‘reading the room’ should go a long way in ensuring you stay on the right side of respectful.
This is the news that the Cabinet are currently considering adjustments to The Alien Working Act, which would waive work permit fees for long-term foreign workers and open up some of the careers that have, until now, been reserved solely for Thais.
Apparently, the draft will allow foreign workers to perform any job that suits their skill set. Anyone else keen on finally putting those tuk-tuk driving skills to use?
Good news for all us worker aliens!
In contrast to the ‘random acts of kindness’ story above, this blog from the Bemused Backpacker could have done with a sprinkling more compassion before hitting ‘publish’.
Presumably in response to some of the inflammatory articles that appeared in the Western media following the King’s death, which included quotes from a small number of holidaymakers who were worried that the subsequent suppression of nightlife might put a dampener on their holiday, this blog argues that “I don’t care if your holiday to Thailand is ruined, show some respect.”
While some of the quotes may have lacked that respect, in the words of Hanlon, never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by ignorance.
Regardless of whether you agree with the sentiment, it’s not hard to sympathise with tourists who may have saved up all year to take their precious two weeks off work to visit Thailand and party, only to find out that the party lifestyle Thailand prides itself on might be curtailed during their time there.
Sure, the comments were ignorant and it’s likely that the would-be vacationers didn’t have either the foresight or the care to see how badly they would be received in a newly grieving country. But the best way to combat ignorance isn’t — surprise surprise — to write a snobby ‘I’m a better tourist than you’ article, it’s to educate those tourists that it’s unlikely their holiday will be affected in any great way, and how they can best navigate and show respect to the Thais during their period of mourning.
A bit of light relief here from fabulous foodie blogger Bangkok Glutton on where to find good Northern food in Bangkok.
The author explains that Northern delights can be a little lacking in our capital, thanks to many chefs abandoning one particular ingredient in favour of an inferior one. She then details where she gets her Northern fix.
This is a lengthy Thaivisa thread discussing why it is that particular expats have made Thailand their home over their native lands, aside from the ‘obvious’ (yet understandably important!) reasons like the weather and low living expenses.
Responses vary from “7 stone honeys” and “less fat burds” (such a charming fellow) to practical reasons like lesser tax obligations and it simply being the home of their wives. We like this post in particular:
Woman on the BTS complaining to another bloke she’s with about her ex BF. Apparently he ate too much khao man gai. Sounds like a hero to me.
— Abraham Dakin (@abedakin) October 21, 2016
— Richard Barrow (@RichardBarrow) October 20, 2016
— David Rice (@Ricicles237) October 19, 2016
And that’s been The Week On Sukhumvit — see you next time!
Featured image includes photo by Benjamín Núñez González (CC BY-SA 4.0 licence)