Koh Samet in Rayong
Thailand has been featured a lot recently in the international press. Mainly for the wrong reasons. Street protests always make good headlines for the newspapers and there have been plenty over the last few months. Even our local press went overboard a bit when the protestors faced off with the police. When the police took out their batons and threw a couple of canisters of tear gas, the local press came down hard on them. Not only did the police have to withdraw, but the chief of police also had to resign. In the street protests that have been going on for over 100 days now, only one man has been killed. And this was in the early hours of the morning. More people get killed in a typical away match at a football stadium in the UK. However, many countries seemed fit to release travel advisories warning people about taking a holiday in Thailand. Some countries even told their citizens that they should stay away.
Maybe Thailand should retaliate the next time football hooligans take part in street battles in the UK. If the truth be told, life goes on as normal in Bangkok and the rest of the country. There is only a small minority of people protesting and they are mainly restricted to certain areas like the government house. Most of tourists in Bangkok wouldn’t have seen anything over the last few months. And, if they had, they probably would have mistaken the protest for a street carnival. Thailand is not like other countries and the people prefer to avoid confrontation at all costs. They believe that a smile can solve many of their problems. However, I don’t suggest you go and join or visit any of the protest rallies.
Bangkok is very safe at the moment. It is unfortunate that many tourists have been cancelling their holidays. There is no reason to do so. There were a few protests at some small provincial airports, which caused them to be closed for a while, but they have all re-opened now. The train strikes are just about over and only some of the trains in the deep south are not running. I was in Bangkok at the weekend and everything is running as normal. The shopping malls were packed as normal with thousands of people shopping or going to watch a movie. I went to a trade fair at the Queen Sirikit Convention Hall which was promoting domestic tourism. The place was jam packed and there were thousands of people looking for good holiday bargains. The fact of the matter is that most Thai people are bored with the political protests and refuse to take sides. They just want it all to go away.
We cannot say when it will end. After all, it has been going on now for just over two years since the bloodless coup in September 2006. We hope it will be settled soon. If you are planning on coming to Thailand I do strongly believe that there is no need for you to cancel your plans. The Thai people are very kind and generous and you will certainly have an enjoyable holiday. For myself, I am off for a trip to a festival next weekend. Thailand is certainly the best and safest place to travel in this region.
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