Letter from Thailand – December 13th, 2008

Dear Reader,

Sawatdee kha from Bangkok, Thailand.

Well, things have certainly calmed down a lot in Bangkok over the last two weeks. The airports in Bangkok are now open again, and tourists are able to leave. People are also allowed to come into the country via air, but, from what the Tourism Authority of Thailand is saying, that’s happening in much lower numbers than normal.

A Thai friend is a tour guide for an American company in Bangkok. In fact, he’s the top tour guide for that company, world wide. In the last three weeks, he has lost his tours in Thailand and is currently in Laos, on a tour through Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, because his normal Thailand tour was cancelled.

Hopefully, the tourist industry in Thailand will improve in the next couple of months, especially if the world sees that Thailand is becoming politically stable again.

Speaking of politics, Thailand still technically has no government. Since the People’s Power Party (PPP) was kicked out two weeks ago by the Constitutional Court, a caretaker group is running the country.

To some extent, this also shows how little importance the last few Thai governments have had, as things are just running along as normal – even without a government. Meanwhile, the ousted PPP members are trying to form another government, but attempts are being made to block them.

Everyone knows, if this happens again, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), the group that closed the airports, will simply demonstrate again and do something else detrimental to the country.

But, Abhisit Vejjajiva, the leader of the opposition Democratic Party says he has enough support to form a coalition government with himself as Prime Minister.

In holiday season news, The Metropolitan Deputy Police Chief, Wiboon Bangtamai, has just announced that security will be stepped up around Central World Plaza for New Year’s Eve. Central World was where the bombings took place on New Year’s Eve, 2006, so the police want to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Central World is also the place where the most people congregate for New Year in Bangkok, so it’s also the place where the most people could be injured or killed. It’s never been announced who was responsible for the 2006 bombings, but some Thais still feel the government at that time, had something to do with it, trying to frighten people into supporting them.

Chrismas lights are up in Bangkok and it really does look pretty at night. All down Sukhumvit, you can see the center median lit up, along with many stores, businesses and restaurants. Thailand is a Buddhist country, yet Thais still love to get into Christmas.

Even my completely Buddhist office is stuffed full of tinsel, Christmas trees, shiny baubles and big signs wishing everyone “Merry Christmas”.

A pleasant change from the US where the political correctness in many businesses doesn’t allow Christmas celebrations because it’s ‘exclusionary’ to everyone who isn’t Christian. Instead, the Thais look at it as just enjoying a holiday season, regardless of the religion behind it. Lovely.

In other news, the weather in Thailand is lovely at this time of year. Sunny days every day, no rain, as the rainy season is now over, and blue skies. I get up every morning and walk down to the underground station in pleasant 80 degree weather. This should last for a couple more months, with slightly chilly evenings, before it starts to get boiling hot again in March.

Speaking of lovely weather, it’s so pretty outside; I’m off to Chatuchak this afternoon, South East Asia’s largest outdoor market, to buy some stuff for work and for Christmas.

I hope you have a nice week ahead, and I’ll talk to you again next week.

Sawatdee kha.