At 16:00 Thursday 22 May The Thai military staged a coup in Thailand.
They have explicitly stated that foreign travellers and foreign consulates and embassies will be protected.
Importantly, in a subsequent announcement, they have declared a nationwide curfew from 22:00 to 05:00.
If you have a early morning flight out of ANY airport in Thailand, this could be very problematic as international flights require check-in two hours beforehand and there are plenty of flights before 7am in Thailand. At this stage we assume there will be some allowance given for travellers needing to arrive at the airport early, but as yet, this has not been spelt out.
Have been advised via @Saksith on twitter that transfers to and from airports will be permitted.
If you have an evening flight it will be prudent to be at the airport before 10pm -- also in order to allow your taxi driver to get indoors after dropping you off. If you're on a late arriving flight - be prepared to spend the night at the airport.
We have a piece on a few airport hotels near Bangkok's primary international airport here, while here is the full list of airport hotels near Suvarnabhumbi Airport on Agoda and those near Don Muang Airport on Agoda.
In Bangkok the BTS is stopping services at 9pm. It is not clear how night train services will be affected. All shopping centres and department stores are now to close at 8pm until further notice.
I'll update this with more information as it becomes apparent.
This is a developing situation and a serious and unfortunate turn of events.
THAI airways have advised all passengers to carry proof of flight (regardless of in- or outbound) to show to soldiers should you be stopped transiting to or from any airport in Thailand during the curfew period. Yet to hear anything from AirAsia.
Further development, though not of direct affect to travellers, the military has now suspended the constitution (which they wrote after their last coup!) , suspending all facets of it except those pertaining to monarchy. Also members of the caretaker government, including the temp PM have been told to report to authorities.
They're in this for the long haul it seems.
Naturally passengers going to and from airports would have passports and tickets on them. That statement from Thai Airways is rather funny.
Shame this coup didnt happen 6 mths ago. Long overdue.
#6 Turkishpizza has been a member since 11/5/2014. Posts: 40
Just got back home after being out in Bangkok since around 4:30. The city is tense but it's all gone down peacefully from what I've heard and have seen. Traffic was insane; waited 45 minutes to get on the skytrain around 7:30, but still that was better than going by road (motorbike taxis were difficult to come by anyway). TV is completely offline - it shows a screen with Thai military insignias and the words "National Peace and Order Maintaining Council". It also plays this annoyingly upbeat Thai song over and over. And it's not just news channels, it's every single channel - even cable stuff like the Food Network. Internet is untouched so far, though some sites appear to be crashing due to being too busy.
Couple of notes:
- Travelers are allowed to go to the airport after 10:00 tonight, though it's not clear how you'd get there exactly - I certainly wouldn't be waiting around.
- Anyone out after 10:00 should expect to be stopped by soldiers and so should carry flight tickets, passport, etc. and have a darn good reason to be out if it's not to catch a flight.
- Schools in Bangkok have been shut until May 25, which perhaps gives an idea of how long the curfew will last ?
- Media are apparently being barred from covering events so there's no real way to know what's actually going on.
- While keeping the above point in my mind, pictures are circulating of what appears to be the peaceful dispersal of protesters on both sides. Many are being sent back sent out on buses (I assume to places where they can get back to the south, northeast or wherever) and the main protest leaders are apparently being detained. I expect protest sites to be totally clear of protesters tomorrow, not that travelers should go hanging around them as soldiers will no doubt be there.
- Asian Correspondent's live feed seems the best way to stay up to date.
I must say I'm surprised by the move. Figured it would be a last resort that wouldn't come until the high-level talks lasted for at least a week or two.
Out here in Muk it seems like the curfewwas largely blown off. The stores were closed, but most of the restaraunts and clubs were open. Lots of traffic. Not a soldier anywhere in sight.
#10 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Hello all...as of right not I have a trip planned that arrives in Bangkok on June 28, and I am backpacking around Thailand for 2-3 weeks. Not surprisingly, this recent political unrest has made me a bit uneasy.
I have heard from other travelers that it largely doesn't affect them; they wouldn't have even known anything was going on if they didn't look at the papers.
I am looking into re-routing my trip to Vietnam instead, but would much prefer Thailand, as I already have a good bit invested.
What are everyone's thoughts on the safety of the area in one month's time? Will the curfew still be in effect?
#11 BAMAnug has been a member since 16/2/2014. Posts: 6
I've been in Thailand during several of these events, and the day-to-day stuff usually doesn't change much. I'd put a lot of stock into MADMAC's and DLuek's comments above, because it matches my experience over the years that things in the provinces aren't much changed but that getting around Bangkok might be a bit more difficult than usually, particularly if your flights arrive very late or depart very early.
Having said that, past performance does not guarantee future results. With the Army in charge, I wouldn't expect stunts like occupying the airport or any major disruptions. I personally wouldn't change my plans, but for you it would depend on your comfort level with a bit of uncertainly compared to how much it would cost to change your flights.
Safety shouldn't be any more of an issue than normal. At least that has been true in the past.
I hope that helps. I'll be interested to hear other's thoughts too. Good luck!
Thank You everybody on the ground in Thailand for your insight on the current situation. I planned on arriving in BKK on July 3. I was waiting for Tuesday, 6 weeks before departure to purchase airfare because I heard that's. When they're cheapest. That was 2 days ago and I have yet to buy. (that was false as they were only $10 cheaper) I have approximately 2-3 weeks to decide what I'm going to do but in the meantime I will be researching some other places like Vietnam, Cambodia. Or maybe just forget backpacking all together and take family to the Carribean. I am not really concerned about my safety as it seems peaceful even with the goings on but I don't want to worry about the curfew or getting stranded since I planned on taking train to Chiang Mai if the gov't decides to shut it down. Again, I thank everybody for the updated situation and I will be paying close attention to the next couple weeks.
#13 Airborne082 has been a member since 14/4/2014. Posts: 18
Hi all, so here's a quick overnight wrap:
*) People have reported being able to break curfew to get to and from airport.
*) Heard reports of places on Samui and Ko Pha Ngan obeying the curfew -- though I'd expect the more remote the area the less strict this will be (for now)
*) A number of embassies have come out to condemn the coup
*) More members of the caretaker government along with members of the Shinawatra family have been called to report to the authorities -- it will be very interesting to see who shows.
*) Some hotels are reporting cancellations
*) Transcript of the US Govt presser is here for those interested.
*) Some insurance companies are no longer covering travel to Thailand -- if you have not already left, it is IMPERATIVE to check your small print/with your insurer to check that you are still covered for travel in Thailand. I have put a call in to WorldNomads regarding this and they said they'd be back to me today with a statement -- as soon as I get it I'll publish it here. If you are already in Thailand and your insurer will not cover you, I strongly suggest you leave for a neighbouring country.
Also, just to clarify, I'm currently in Bali, David is in Bangkok, and Samantha is heading from here to Bangkok in a few hours -- so we'll be doing the best to keep you abreast of developments as they happen - both here and on Twitter and the Facebook page.
Q) Given the current situation would I cancel my trip to Thailand?
As long as my travel insurance is valid, No.
BUT, this is an extremely fluid situation and has the potential (unlike previous recent coups) to get out of control very quickly. It is prudent to keep abreast of developments -- there are lots of decent coverage on news websites for starters. Also I'll be reinstating the Twitter newsfeed to the homepage later this morning.
Safe travels all.
This is a good Bloomberg piece
"The opposition and resistance to the coup will likely be strong," Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, said by phone. "This time the looming confrontation and clashes are going to be severe and violent."
"The last coup was an unmitigated disaster," said Duncan McCargo, a professor of political science at the University of Leeds. "There is no reason to suppose that this one will be any better, especially since the country is far more polarized now than it was in 2006."
While this from The New York Times
"The lesson they learned the last time was that the medicine they prescribed after the coup was not strong enough," said Thongchai Winichakul, a former student activist in Thailand who is now a professor of Southeast Asian history at the University of Wisconsin. "There's a high possibility of very drastic measures and suppression this time."
Most of the international coverage I've read so far (and there is a LOT!) is resoundingly pessimistic.
So World Nomads have updated their Thailand page, which you can read in full here, but the section relevant to now reads:
Can I cancel?
It's a bit tough, but because the hotels and resorts are still open (at the moment) and the airlines are still flying to Thailand, and the airport is still operating nothing's been "cancelled" so there's no coverage.
Deciding to cancel your trip yourself is called "change of mind" and is not covered either.
If you feel uneasy about going to Thailand now (and who wouldn't) talk to your travel provider about postponing, or re-scheduling or re-arranging (Vietnam's nice at this time of year). But if it costs you money to make those changes, sorry it's not covered because a military coup is a general exclusion.
Am I covered?
Now's the time to go and read your policy documents because it depends on where you're from and which underwriter covers you (sorry, it's complicated). However, generally - Military coups are a general exclusion -- which means anything that happens to you because of the coup IS NOT COVERED, but everything else IS.
So, fall over and break a leg -- you're covered. Miss a flight because the public transport system is closed -- sorry, not covered.
Your bag gets stolen from your hotel -- covered. Your hotel is locked down by the military and you have to pay for to move to a new one -- again, not covered.
You can read more about why we recommend World Nomads and use them every time we travel overseas here.
"This time the looming confrontation and clashes are going to be severe and violent."
There is no force in the country with the ability to stand up to the Army. The soldiers are going to obey orders and they are going to use force if they are confronted. Anyone who confronts the Army is going to die. I don't see that as very likely. The worst case scenario is something like what we see in Patttani, and there is no popular support for any such thing.
"The last coup was an unmitigated disaster," said Duncan McCargo, a professor of political science at the University of Leeds. "There is no reason to suppose that this one will be any better, especially since the country is far more polarized now than it was in 2006."
I would respond to that with "says who?" Thaksin was becoming a demigogue, was responsible for the extrajudicial killing of hundreds, if not thousands, and was corrupt to the core. He implemented some excellent social welfare programs, but he was also on the road to becoming totalitarian and he was / is most certainly an accessory to murder in his counter drug campaign. Had he been allowed to remain in power THAT would have been an unmitigated disaster.
"There's a high possibility of very drastic measures and suppression this time."
This is kind of vague. How do we define "very drastic measures"? I would be very surprised if all the principals were lined up and shot - that's very drastic. Or sent to remote "re-education camps". I would expect a number of troublesome personalities to be barred from politics and perhaps jailed if they resist. But more than that would be vey surprising.
The bottom line is that Thai political leadership has demonstrated an inability to play by the rules. The Army is certainly sympathetic to the Yellow side of the aisle, but not so sympathetic as to give them a free pass.
#17 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
With regards to the curfew being obeyed on the islands, I'm on Ko Phi Phi presently and last night most bars did close at 10pm, but not all of them. Strangely all the convenience stores were open (at 10.45 at least) and no-one was restricted from wandering around - in fact plenty were just drinking buckets on the streets
I wouldn't push my luck. I don't see any good reason to do that. But I also think that the most likely outcome if contronted by an authority would be to be told to go home. I would be surprised if outside of Bangkok any foreigner was arrested for violating curfew. Again, I wouldn't advisse testing this theory, but I suspect it's probably reality.
#19 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Phuket, I'm gonna chance it.
#20 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
We published earlier today Thailand: What are the alternatives as a catch all for those who are thinking Thailand has just become a tad too complicated for their holiday plans and we have another piece coming very shortly from David on what the coup means for Thailand.
As China infers (I think), for those not bothered by the goings on, there are going to be some CRACKING hotel deals coming on shortly as the cancellations hit big centres like Phuket/Samui/Bkk, Chiang Mai and so on, but, I do feel it is different this time around -- hope I'm wrong.
I had a chat on the phone to World Nomads earlier today and as Madmac suggests, pushing one's luck would not be prudent -- concentrate on travelling and keep your distance from anything junta-related.
Sidewinder - thanks for the report back - that's helpful thanks
Stuart - that was actually meant to be a play on words, as in:
F**k it, I'm gonna chance it.
It's a bad sign when I have to explain my "jokes".
#22 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
We are in Khanom (near Surat Tania) now and notice very little except the usual others are reporting about stores closing early. Most of the locals we talk to seem totally carefree about the whole thing. It is unsettling, though. My wife and I are here for three months with our 6, 4, and 1 year old kids. Hoping we don't have to get out of here fast. Definitely staying clear of Bangkok. Our return flights out of Bangkok are on July 30. Hopefully things are settled by then.
#24 clarkvand has been a member since 23/5/2014. Posts: 1
Reading through everyone's comments I noticed the possibly related discussions at the bottom of the page. One is an update on Thai coup leaders sealing the northern border in September 2006. The second is about a potential Thai coup brewing in September 2008.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Regards.
A Japanese friend who lives in Savannakhet just provided this info on FB regarding the Thai-Lao border (there have been conflicting accounts):
"I decided to go to the border by my motorbike, and trying to walk into Mukdahan by myself.
As a result, no problem. They say, foreingers can get in, but Lao can not."
He had earlier tried to buy a ticket on the international bus and was told it's not running.
Well, we have a shitload of Lao here right now. Like, next door to me. I don't know about crossing the Border (legally), but those who are here are definately being left alone. In fact, everyone is being left alone.
#27 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
@Madmac - trust me, I wouldnt push my luck if I was in a city! But was eager to see how much a small island complied with the curfew. There were (and are tonight) Thais still going about their business and local stores open, not just tourists. Tonight seems more compliant though, almost all bars and restaurants are shuttered. Still surprised the 7/11's are open though
Thank you all for the insight to what's going on in Thailand. I will give the "situation" 2 weeks before I decide if I will travel there. I realize this is not directed toward "tourists" and travellers but the curfew and limited travel is making me look elsewhere.
#29 Airborne082 has been a member since 14/4/2014. Posts: 18
@Airborne082 - just to be clear, transport in Thailand is not limited aside from public transport closing at 9:00 pm in Bangkok and some checkpoints that won't be a problem if you have a passport and are in the country legally. All flights, trains, buses (including night buses and trains) and boats are operating normally. It would be a surprise if the curfew remains in effect for two weeks.
My issue with traveling to Thailand would have less to do with hassles (as there haven't been too many) and more to do with safety. Specifically, would my travel insurance cover me? I'd also be watching to see what sort of resistance arises and how the military deals with it. If I were in a traveler planning a trip to Thailand over the next few weeks, I'd consider avoiding Bangkok but probably not skipping the whole country unless it were an issue of insurance. Aside from the curfew being in effect nationwide, the entire rest of the country has seen virtually no effects from this entire seven months of political instability. (Just as Madmac in Mukdahan
For more specifics, here's our update from yesterday on what the coup means for travellers: http://www.travelfish.org/blogs/thailand/2014/05/23/military-coup-in-thailand-what-does-it-mean-for-travellers-2/
I should add mhy son lives in Bangkok and he says the curfew aside, almost nothing is different.
#31 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Good post here by Bangkok Pundit for those interested in the political-economic side of things. This paragraph (actually from Nomura, an economic agency of some kind I guess), highlights what I'm ultimately most worried about:
"... The red shirts now appear to have the capacity not only to bring large-scale protests to the streets but also, we believe, to pursue a serious insurgency from its heartlands in the north of the country. The former could of itself be serious ... but the latter could be even more damaging, given the difficulty the army has had over the past decade or so grappling with an Islamic insurgency in the south. If the red shirts conclude that they will never be allowed to prevail through the ballot box, direct action of one sort or another is likely to look to be the only option open to them."
If the military's reform ideas appease the yellow shirt side and ignore the majority red shirts, some sort of red shirt response seems inevitable. Couple a red shirt response with the anti-coup protests by seemingly neutral groups of students, academics, artists and regular people that began to build last night (no reason to think they won't continue to grow on their own), and the military could have quite a situation on its hands. Obviously all this is just speculation... I still hope for some sort of compromise. But things are a lot different now than they were in '06.
Yeah, but a curfew in BKK must really kill the buzz for the tourists who are really there for the urban party scene. I've got a friend going there next weekend for a bachelor party that was planned months ago -- they are planning to start with bloody mary brunch to make the most of things.
Apparently some bars in Bangkok are promoting 10pm to 5am lockins. That could be ugly.
There is an exceptional story on Aljazeera by ex-Reuters journalist Andrew Marshall, that I'd say is essential reading for people looking into the backstory here. Google is your friend here as I'm not linking to it due to the LM laws, -- it isn't too hard to find and is well worth the effort.
Man, they were enforcing the curfew out here tonight. Police were driving around telling everyone to get home and off the streets. Hope this **** ends sooner rather than latter.
#36 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
@Madmac Yes, this time around is different I think.
Generally the curfew and military presence appears to be different in different parts of the country. Foreigners in tourist centres like Phuket, Samui. Ko Pha Ngan and Krabi have reported few issues and that curfew breaking was quite common - if low key. In other areas, particularly in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the northeast, the situation has been stricter.
We heard last night from our Chiang Mai writer that there were shootings in both the Tha Pae and Chang Puek areas of the city -- these are both downtown areas so I want to stress yet again, that travellers have no place anywhere near protests. Keep away.
In other developments, the Senate has been disbanded, senior police considered to be "red shirt loyalists" have been transferred out of positions of influence and the junta has started calling up academics and journalists to report to their HQ. There is talk of foreign agencies being called in as well, though that is yet to happen. These are very concerning developments. It is a purge.
Some further reading
AP on the summoning of journos and academics
Confrontations at Bangkok's Victory Monument
Junta consolidates powers and begins the purge
While the protests so far have been very small by Thai standards (a couple of hundred people here and there) and while a few people have been taken into custody at each, if the military isn't seen to do something more severe, it is extremely likely that the protests will grow in size quickly and appear in more areas. The military is really in a sticky situation on how they should respond, but, well, they dug this hole and jumped in it.
Just to repeat, stay well clear of any protests and we'll update this thread and the Facebook page as things develop through the day.
By and large unless you were in Thailand to party till dawn, your travel plans should not be overly affected, but the situation is extremely fluid and unpredictable.
@ Somtam. Thanks for the Marshall story. Five or six years ago, I read something on similar lines in an economic forum from an expat who had lived in the Kingdom for 20 years or so. When that person mentioned the possiblity of massive civil unrest in the future, it had sounded somewhat hyperbolic... it doesn't so much now.
@somsai -- How/where are you seeing that? I'm seeing tweets that are very critical of the military, including some from the Nation journalist (Pravit) whose been summoned to turn himself in within the next 10 minutes and is obviously being watched.
Here are a few more interesting reads published this morning (Thailand time):
Solid piece by the Washington Post on how things are mostly normal in Bangkok but with tense undercurrents.
Worrying piece from the Bangkok Post on weapons seizures and arrests of militant red shirts.
And more worrying stuff from Reuters on dissent among the police in Thailand.
Rain in Bangkok now. Plans for anti-coup protest scheduled yesterday to meet at McDonalds near Ratchaprasong appear to have been changed. Soldiers are blocking off the area. McDonalds considers fighting back by forcing them to eat McDonalds.
"McDonalds considers fighting back by forcing them to eat McDonalds."
@Somsai, the blacked out tweets aren't being censored - that is the people doing it on purpose to highlight the issue of self censorship.
Supposed to fly from HK into Chiang Mai June 11,was not intending to stay in CM for long but just cross over into Lao.Non refundable ticket Air Asia, small print of course excludes anything coup related. So my question is of course what to do? Is the border with Lao open? Should I cut my losses and just book an alternative ticket HK-Vientiane and forget the whole thing? Of coruse I realize nobody knows what will develop in the next few weeks but just answer what YOU would do..thanks all.
So that's why Pravit is wearing that electric tape on his face. I'm not real up on all this stuff.
Go Piglet. What are they going to do, tell you that you can't leave? Mekong is small up there, you could swim if you had to.
@piglet - Agree with somsai - I would go. The border is open for foreigners and the reports of Thais being turned away are very on-again off-again -- and there is plenty of northern -- and northeast Thailand -- that is unaffected.
Just a quick wrap on what happened today news wise. As David attended both the protests today, he'll write in more detail about that tomorrow morning, but as a quick wrap we have:
There was a small anti-coup protest centred around the McDonalds near the Erawan Shrine in central Bangkok that then moved up to the Victory Monument to the north of there. While both protests were tense, the one at Victory Monument was considerably larger. Thankfully both dispersed without any serious violence save a bit of argy bargy.
Late this evening the Junta was reported as saying no more "Mr Nice Guy" when it comes to the protesters, saying " it would not tolerate any further rallies against its coup." This will we watched closely tomorrow to see how it pans out.
Bigger picture wise, the junta is continuing to round up people and sideline officials (particularly police) not to their liking, including a prominent Thai journalist and, late tonight construction and telecom magnates seen to have close connections to Thaksin were ordered to report to army detention tomorrow. This continuing rounding up of "undesirables" is extremely concerning. The UK Foreign Officer Minister has spoken out against this, which is a start.
On a brighter note ex Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was released, though she apparently remains under surveillance.
Also tomorrow the King is to formally appoint Prayuth as the junta head. The delay here is considered to be quite curious, (normally a coup is approved or slapped down quite quickly), adding to the intrigue.
There has been lots of good reading, here are some pieces that stood out for me -- no doubt David will have more to add tomorrow.
Channel News Asia: Junta ultimatum for defiant Thai anti-coup protesters
Khaosod English: HM King To Formally Appoint Prayuth As Junta Head
New Mandala: Thailand's invitation to violence
New Mandala: Thailand what's next?
Reuters: Old-school Thai junta faces new adversary: social media, flash mob protests
Reuters: Thai protesters test military's resolve
There's more, but the above should get you broadly up to date with todays happenings along with some bigger picture stuff.
Our general advice remains the same - at this stage we see no reason to change your travel plans, but do work to stay well away from protests and stay informed. The situation could still change very quickly.
Confused-people are advising me to come despite also saying that I will have no insurance - since travel companies say that military coup related incidents are general exceptions.So yes it's ok to come but if anything happens I can't claim it and I am not covered?
The small protest next to Chitlom BTS station (Siam Square area) -- dubbed the McDonalds protest since it happened right in front of Ronaldland -- started with just a couple of people defying several soldiers who had blocked much of the area off. Word was that the protest there would be cancelled. But by the time I arrived at 13:00 there were a solid 100 to 200 rowdy protesters and the soldiers were just watching. It ended up with some minor scuffling before the protesters marched unheeded to Victory Monument . There the crowds swelled to possibly over 1,000 -- it's hard to say exactly as there were lots of media and onlookers milling about. I didn't see a single soldier for the first hour and very few police. Part of the roundabout was blocked by protesters. In typical Thai protest style the mood was festive but flourishes of anger came and went. Definitely some red shirts but also people who seemed like ordinary Bangkokians from low-paid to at least middle class. At one point some of the protesters pushed through a group of police who were blocking Phaya Thai Rd; the police basically let them through, but a large number of soldiers stood their ground. It was tense until a military official somehow calmed things down over his loudspeaker.
Couple of notes:
Chitlom, Phloen Chit and Victory Monument BTS skytrain stations and the related skywalks were completely shut down at different times today. These are all centrally located and normally busy; the trains just rolled right through without stopping and the stations were gated off. It was chaotic when they shut the gates at Victory Monument station around 17:00 -- a lot of people, travellers included, didn't know what was going on. It was like they were shutting us in and there was only a small opening to get out, with the whole area packed.
There was no bloodshed at all and only a couple of arrests all day. The protesters and police in the "front lines" were unarmed, with soldiers carrying automatic rifles standing just behind. Some of the soldiers appeared nervous or confused, and a few even looked emotional as the protesters berated them. For the most part, I would commend them for not letting anger overtake them. Some of the protesters were very angry and screaming; soldiers quite cool-headed. Most of the police looked indifferent, lots of them smiling.
This is important: The media flock to these rallies like bees to a hive, literally competing for the most dramatic images and video -- that's how they get paid. So obviously that drama is all you see on the news. But I also went to other places around Bangkok -- walked from the Ratchaprasong protest to MBK; hung around Silom / Lumpini Park for a bit; and strolled all around Victory Monument, walking a bit west on Ratchawithi Rd. The vast majority of Bangkok is business as usual. Even at Siam Square, which is just a few blocks from the McDonalds protest, it felt like a normal Sunday.
The "no more mister nice guy" stance by the military is worrying. I definitely don't expect these protests to go away. Probably a lull tomorrow as people go back to work, but I'd expect a bigger turnout by later this week. Of course it will depend on what happens between now and then as well.
More specifics on the bigger picture and how it effects travelers coming in a post tomorrow.
@piglet - it depends on who you are insured with. Some companies are not covering Thailand at all, others will still cover you, but not for specifically coup-related stuff.
World Nomads (who we recommend and use) spells it out pretty clearly here.
Questions, let me know.
"...if the military isn't seen to do something more severe, it is extremely likely that the protests will grow in size quickly and appear in more areas. The military is really in a sticky situation on how they should respond..."
It isn't that sticky. They have the guns. And as the great Mao Tse Tung once said, "all power comes from the barrel of a gun."
For some reason people think that in this day and age (meaning 2014) "Things are different". No, they're not. The same rules that applied to governance 50 or 100 years ago apply today. That things have changes are an illusion not grounded in reality.
#49 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
I saw DLuek post this message:
"just to be clear, transport in Thailand is not limited aside from public transport closing at 9:00 pm in Bangkok and some checkpoints that won't be a problem if you have a passport and are in the country legally. All flights, trains, buses (including night buses and trains) and boats are operating normally."
and so I wondered... Can I take the overnight train, or no?
Are they canceled?
If they are not canceled, I would assume that I would not be able to take one, if it leaves after 10pm, or no?
Many thanks in advance,
#50 Fortaz has been a member since 25/5/2014. Posts: 1
@Fortaz -- yes you can still take a night train -- or a night bus for that matter.
@Madmac - not under any illusions the military is any different to times in the past -- this is the same mob responsible for Tak Bai after all -- but rather think at the moment we're looking at "give an inch take a mile".
The military doesn't need to shoot people to crack down, but if they don't crack down, the protests will continue to grow and the need to use weapons may well increase. If they want to stop the protests, they have the means to do so without killing people.
Just to be clear, personally I don't think they should stop the protests - I reckon the army should take their bat and go home -- but that ain't going to happen - and nobody listens to me anyway
"Just to be clear, personally I don't think they should stop the protests - I reckon the army should take their bat and go home -- but that ain't going to happen - and nobody listens to me anyway"
If they did that, the two parties would go at it and the blood letting would likely dwarf Tak Bai. I honestly think the coup had to happen. The Army has, without a doubt, infiltrated all sides of the political spectrum here. They know what these guys are up to. They know what we don't - when mass demonstrations and distruption and violence are planned. My suspicion is that they moved when they did because they knew what we didn't. At any rate, it would be very unwise now to terminate this operation before laying the ground work for a successful decade or so of normal governance.
#52 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
it would be very unwise now to terminate this operation before laying the ground work for a successful decade or so of normal governance.
I hope you're right. I also hope they're not laying the groundwork for a long, drawn out insurgency that drags the country down to a state that's unimaginable now. A soldier was killed today in Trat during a raid on supposed red shirt militants. I hope he's not the first of many. Hate to be negative, but I'm not too confident about that.
How long is the curfew expected to last?
#54 Airborne082 has been a member since 14/4/2014. Posts: 18
Common knowledge amongst Thais some real bad violence was about to happen so the army stepped in. Lots of weapons were being brought into Bangkok. Some ex Cambodian soldiers were being recruited by the red shirts but yellow shirts were also accumulating guns in Khon Kaen to stop the red shirt progress.
The army needs to ban Suthep, Abhisit and Yingluck from politics and establish new guidelines for political parties and start elections within the next few months. They must look impartial, otherwise this will go on for many years more.
Trouble is the yellow shirts cant win elections and wont respect the result. Any resistance must be nipped in the bud and the army must have the courage to step in early unlike the last 12 mths.
#55 Turkishpizza has been a member since 11/5/2014. Posts: 40
"I hope you're right. I also hope they're not laying the groundwork for a long, drawn out insurgency that drags the country down to a state that's unimaginable now. A soldier was killed today in Trat during a raid on supposed red shirt militants. I hope he's not the first of many. Hate to be negative, but I'm not too confident about that."
If the Red Shirts are willing to take on the Army, a force that can really hurt them, why do you think they would hesitate in taking on anyone else with extreme violence?
There's no guarantee that this will shake out with little violence, but then, there was no guarantee of that before the coup. The coup lessened that prospect, it didn't increase it.
The Red Shirt movement is the child of the old communist insurgency here. That insurgency used violence in an attempt to topple the government in the 60s and 70s. The idea that using violence to topple the old political structures is not an anathema to either side in this struggle. Until it is, Thailand will not have a mature democracy. And that's nothing that anyone who isn't Thai can influence.
#56 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
The red shirts are protesting because their duly elected government was thrown out and their votes were disrespected. They have a right to be angry.
The yellow shirts are protesting because they cant win elections and seek power through undemographic means. They claim that Yingluck and her party is corrupt yet they themselves are very corrupt.
Corruption lies at the core of Thai business and politics and its fully expected that bribes will be paid to gain development approvals.
Until corruption is addressed democracy will continue to be hard to uphold.
#57 Turkishpizza has been a member since 11/5/2014. Posts: 40
@airborne082 - The curfew is in effect until further notice, so we really have no idea at this point.
@madmac - I don't think the red shirts as a whole are willing to take on the army. But it's clear (given the recent weapons seizures and arrests and the soldier killed in Trat) that there are some militant elements (maybe just a few people, maybe a lot more, but some) aiming to resist with violence. This would not be an all-out offensive but rather small incidents over time, not unlike in the south. When we're talking about violence, it doesn't take much to make things worse.
As of now most of the red shirt leaders are detained, so I wouldn't expect any major organized protests for a while. But I'd wager they'll come eventually, which itself could threaten any progress the general is able to make. The general himself has said repeatedly since last October that a coup will not solve Thailand's political woes. I can certainly relate to the need to restore order and avoid violence that, as you say, only the military might have known was coming. But I don't see how this will solve Thailand's problems in the long term.
@turkishpizza - I think the whole "impartial military savior" train has already passed. Yellow shirt leaders have already been released while red shirts are still being held. Yingluck is under house arrest. Thai PBS called it a purge of the Shinawatra clan. In short, yellow shirts are getting what they wanted (reforms before election) while red shirts are being told to get lost.
Still the red shirts will win the next election. Will the corrupt yellows accept this? Its purely a numbers game.
#59 Turkishpizza has been a member since 11/5/2014. Posts: 40
"The red shirts are protesting because their duly elected government was thrown out and their votes were disrespected. They have a right to be angry."
There's more to it than this though. You have to look at the entire history of this conflict to appreciate old TRT malfeasance. Painting it as rich against the poor is overly simplistic. Furthermore, Democracy means a whole lot more than who wins an election. TRT was severely damaged by it's questionable relationship with the Monarchy and it's war on drugs, which included some 2,700 extra judicial killings. Thaksin was becoming a demigogue. As Lincoln pointed out when he was president and was receiving severe criticism from the abolitionist camp for moving too slowly on the issue of freeing the slaves, if you overreach and attempt political change that is in excess of what is politically viable, you are in danger of ending up with nothing. TRT moved too fast, too hard, on too many fronts and overreached. They have to regroup and not try and radically change things. That will not be tolerated by a number of political forces in the country. Gradual change is the only thing that's politically feasible.
#60 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Thank God. That was getting old.
#62 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
It's not rich against poor. Plenty of poor and rich people on both sides. It's north v south. Some even want the country divided into north and south.
#63 Turkishpizza has been a member since 11/5/2014. Posts: 40
It's way more complicated than "poor and rich" or "north v south." Information that's vital to really understand it is illegal in Thailand. (Check out the New Mandala to get an idea (just Google it).
This is a good AP piece for travelers wondering what it's really like here.
And for a laugh amid all this serious crap: Junta insists "protests" just rowdy mainland Chinese tourists.
No its not. It's like Korea or Vietnam or USA a long time ago. Just a watered down version.
A lot of northern Thais are actually scared of going south because of the dislike of southerners.
Thailand is a very tribalistic country.
#65 Turkishpizza has been a member since 11/5/2014. Posts: 40
Just want to say thanks for the updates, was going to book my September ticket today but I guess I'll hold off for a bit and see how this unravels.
Worst case scenario, does anyone have any tips on alternative routes from Europe into Myanmar that won't cost an arm and a leg? Was going to book a flight from Stockholm Arlanda to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi and onwards from Don Mueang to Yangon.
#66 MissCaswell has been a member since 27/5/2014. Posts: 5
Me thinks turkishpizza is leonardcohen...oh dear.
#67 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
@Ryszard my understanding is airport transfers breaking curfew are permitted as long as you have your tickets etc. The curfew has been shifted back to midnight anyway, which should allow you enough time.
@MissCaswell look at flights into Kuala Lumpur -- then Airasia flight to Yangon.
Thanks somtam, as soon as I read KL I felt a lil bit slow for not thinking of that.
However am keeping watch over all flights and flights to BBK are dropping significantly, will keep looking for the right moment
#70 MissCaswell has been a member since 27/5/2014. Posts: 5
Hi guys. I've never posted in here before, but I found this site while looking through the web and I've been following this forum closely over the last week. Thank you for all the updates, it's been really good to get inside outsiders' perspectives.
I see most people looking for advice/help start their own thread, but mine is more particularly to do with the coup. A big group of friends (all of us from South Africa) are looking to travel to South East Asia this December. I've been three years ago (did Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand), but most of our party has never been to Asia and some even have never before travelled overseas.
We want to book our main flights early (like in the next two weeks) because they are relatively expensive from all the way down here, so I guess my main question is this: should we risk booking flights to Bangkok, or should we play it safe and book to KL? We would like to do two countries over the five weeks that we're there, which is why flying to BKK makes the most sense, due to its relative proximity to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. And Thailand remains our favoured destination. While I've been reading that the situation is mostly unchanged for tourists and I know that coups aren't particularly uncommon in Thai politics, it also does seem (the AJ article in mind) that it could deteriorate.
With that in mind, do we risk hoping that the situation won't get drastically worse in the next six months? Or would you recommend playing it safe, not risking losing all the money we'd spend on flights, and book our flights for KL (and obviously then if the situation improves, heading to Thailand at some stage as well).
I'm sorry if these questions seem puerile or perhaps obvious - would just really like some expert advice because I'm really unsure what to advise my group at this stage.
#71 malusijp has been a member since 29/5/2014. Posts: 2
We can't predict the future. But the chances that Bangkok's airports will be shut down in December are very, very, veeerrrrryyyyy slim. So I personally see no reason not to buy your tickets if you want to fly through Bangkok. If, god forbid, Bangkok is going up in flames in December, you could just buy a cheap ticket on Air Asia or another budget carrier straight from Bangkok to KL, Saigon, Phnom Penh or wherever, departing Bangkok on the same day your arrive. Any of those places shouldn't cost more than US $50 or $60 one-way if you book a couple weeks in advance. In that case you'd need to take the free shuttle bus from Suvarnabhumi airport to Don Mueang airport. But Thailand would have to be in a pretty horrible state for that to be dangerous in December. Chances are everything will be fine and you'll be able to travel anywhere in Thailand without issues.
I guess if you want to be extra safe and really feel you need to buy the tickets now, you could buy tickets to KL or Singapore and then buy budget tickets to Bangkok a couple weeks beforehand if it looks like everything is okay there. In the past I've used Singapore as my main in/out hub simply because tickets were cheaper if flying through there -- even if adding in the costs of Air Asia / Jetstar tickets elsewhere (we flew from Sing. to Saigon in the beginning and Bangkok back to Sing. in the end). Tickets around SE Asia are generally cheap if you use the budget carriers.
There are no certainties in life. You could be dead tomorrow. So you have to work around probabilities. Given that, it's likely that this will not boil over, it's likely that in six to nine months the leaders will announce an election date and that this will be just another mild coup. Is this certain? Nope. Just probable.
#73 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Thank you DLuek and MADMAC. Will definitely bear this all in mind. You've both been very helpful.
#74 malusijp has been a member since 29/5/2014. Posts: 2
Few interesting bits on the big picture here in Thailand, for anyone interested:
What I feel is a spot-on New York Times opinion piece on how the junta is getting it wrong; one key line: "Thai military remains wedded to an outdated anti-Communist mind-set, believing that those who oppose the army are a small minority of subversives."
For some balance, a Reuters article on how many Thais do support the coup; I've found this to be very much true... Also plenty of apathetic folks who could care less and plenty more who are too preoccupied with scraping by on farms and in other low-paid jobs to even think about things like free speech and political prisoners.
A photo of the Belgian man who was arrested earlier today at an anti-coup protest for hanging a "PEACE PLEASE" t-shirt from his collared shirt... Word is that he's a resident English teacher (or should I say was - I'm guessing he'll be deported and hopefully not tried in a freakin' military court).
And finally, an extremely troubling forwarded email from a Chiang Mai University professor who fears for her own safety simply for expressing her ideas.
Otherwise, Bangkok feels pretty normal, but there's a definite undertone that's hard to describe. It's not the tension that blanketed the city during the "Bangkok Shutdown" protests. It's more like a subtle feeling of worry or dread that comes from suppression of free speech. I don't know, maybe that's just how I feel. BBC and CNN still blocked; the Thailand page of Human Rights Watch's website is blocked -- pretty much sums it up.
I think it's pretty clear right now that before the Army losens up on dissent there will none permitted. I can already tell you that from a security stand point, the Army just isn't going to allow anything that might challenge them or cause violence to gain traction. There will be a return to political dialog and elections and so forth, but in good time. For now, it's game over. At this point discussions about whether or not the coup was or wasn't a good idea aren't very productive. It has happened, and it can't be undone. Whether it was justifiable or not is difficult to assess, simply because we don't know what they know. I do know that the old TRT and it's subsequent variants have periodically tried to move too hard, too fast, on a number of fronts. It really needs to regroup, because the forces opposing it are certainly powerful. Even in mature democracies, having enough votes isn't always enough.
#77 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Not The Nation:
"Effective today, tourist and non-immigrant business visas will be limited only to persons whose motives for entering Thailand involve solicitation of sex workers, consumption of alcohlic beverages and mind-altering illicit substances, attendance at all-night music parties, or petty criminal activity that doesn't involve politics."
"Foreigners caught reading books on Thai history, or with a blood alcohol level of under 0.1% risked deportation."
"Entry visas would also be contingent upon adequately failing a Thai language test, Prajin added."
I'm in trouble now. I'd better start drinking.
#79 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Heads up for anyone in Bangkok: There will apparently be some protesters out tomorrow (Sunday June 1) and the military is deploying well over 1,000 soldiers to deal with it. Amarin Plaza next to Chitlom BTS station was supposed to be the protesters' meeting point, though I'm doubting that will be possible given how forcefully the military has been blocking off the entire Victory Monument traffic circle of late. But Chitlom, Ratchadamri and Phloen Chit BTS stations are already scheduled to be closed; I assume they'll reopen if protesters don't show in that area. There could also be roving groups of protesters playing cat and mouse with soldiers anywhere in the city. Protests are also apparently planned for in front of government offices in every provincial capital in Thailand... We'll see how it all plays out.
Sorry, should have added this link with more specific info: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/38-companies-of-police-troops-to-deal-with-protest-30235134.html
Can't speak for everywhere but the consensus here remains the coup had to happen. Everyone on my street agrees with that assessment. And as you guys know I live in the heart of Red Shirt Country.
#82 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
A lot of people here in Bangkok feel that way too, Mac. I think the bigger debate is not if the coup should have happened, but rather how it's happening. The military is gagging the media, running its own propaganda campaign and stifling all dissent, including the opinions of very well respected academics. It's all frighteningly authoritarian and one has to question if that's the right approach in a country that's been (more or less) free and democratic for decades. Personally I feel that resistance would be less of a problem for the military if they weren't taking such a suppressive approach. I also feel the military would be very wise to order a nationwide referendum to let the people weigh in on what should be reformed. Realistically the authorities could then do whatever they want behind the scenes; just the gesture showing that they care what the masses think would go a long way in keeping resistance at bay.
As it stands now, what's probably Bangkok's busiest and most important local bus and minibus hub ( Victory Monument ), plus all of the roads leading to it and the three BTS stations closest to it are being completely closed every evening during rush hour. Other key parts of the city are also being closed in the military's attempts to stop any protests before they start. This is causing major daily headaches for local people that's on par (maybe worse) than anything we experienced during the Bangkok Shutdown. Obviously there are people who want to protest, so unless the military is okay with letting that happen, they'll have to keep blocking Victory Monument and other places off every single night. Protests are bound to pop up in other areas, which will mean the military will have to start blocking those areas off as well. The end result will be a city that's no more orderly, safe or convenient than it was during the anti-government protests.
And these are not red shirt protests. Definitely some red shirts involved, but also a lot of regular middle class Bangkokians, college students and artist types who are mainly protesting against the suppression of basic freedoms.
"The military is gagging the media, running its own propaganda campaign and stifling all dissent, including the opinions of very well respected academics. It's all frighteningly authoritarian and one has to question if that's the right approach in a country that's been (more or less) free and democratic for decades."
This was done to shut down any attempts at organizing resistance. The instillation of fear into the poltical players is, in my view, a good thing. They needed some fear to be reminded that they are accountable for organizing violence.
"Personally I feel that resistance would be less of a problem for the military if they weren't taking such a suppressive approach."
They obviously don't see it that way. The Army decided from the outset it was not going to permit any civilian group from gaining traction to challenge their rule or authority. Personally I see this as wise. It's much easier to crack down initially and lighten up, than ratchet things up when difficulties arise.
"Realistically the authorities could then do whatever they want behind the scenes; just the gesture showing that they care what the masses think would go a long way in keeping resistance at bay."
They've been very good at explaining what they are doing on TV, and explaining why they are doing it. Westerners are simply uncomfortable with the very idea of a military takeover. Much of the criticism is coming from external sources unfamiliar with Thai realities. From our worlds, standing behind the coup and saying it was justifiable would almost never happen. Because our worlds don't function that way and it's hard for us to accept that our world isn't always the standard bearer for everyone else.
As for Protests popping up - the Army will have to remain draconian in dealing with them for the time being. In Thailand, protest as a method of political expression is really no longer legitimate. It's been abused to the point where everyone is using this tactic to upset the apple cart and get their own way. Protest now is the mark of intollerance and has to be suppressed. The two principal parties did this to themselves.
#84 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
The instillation of fear into the poltical players is, in my view, a good thing. They needed some fear to be reminded that they are accountable for organizing violence.
Academics and journalists are not "political players." Academics and journalists are the people who keep political players in check by reporting and discussing what is happening. Stifling the media and academia only makes it seem like the authorities have something to hide, whether that's true or not. Radio/TV stations run by red and yellow shirts to organize protests and broadcast divisive rants are one thing. Free press and academia are something else completely.
They've been very good at explaining what they are doing on TV, and explaining why they are doing it.
That doesn't change the fact that they're making no concrete efforts to include the public in hugely important decisions that will determine the future of Thailand.
Westerners are simply uncomfortable with the very idea of a military takeover. Much of the criticism is coming from external sources unfamiliar with Thai realities. From our worlds, standing behind the coup and saying it was justifiable would almost never happen.
I completely agree with this. I also don't appreciate John Kerry barking down criticism at the new Thai leaders as though he's a wise old teacher and the generals are his naughty students. Thailand (and many other countries) has different values than most Western countries. As Americans, we learn at a very young age that the Bill of Rights, and in particular freedom of speech, is sacred. In Thailand, loyalty to the king and national unity are more sacred than liberty and democracy, though I feel this is gradually shifting now. For this reason I can relate to Thais who support the coup. After really stretching my mind beyond my own cultural perceptions, I've also realized that many Thais see the military as a last hope to save their deeply divided country from complete ruin. Unlike us expats, they can't just hop on a plane to some other country if theirs goes down the tubes. They have to hope that everything will turn out okay.
Protest as a method of political expression is really no longer legitimate. It's been abused to the point where everyone is using this tactic to upset the apple cart and get their own way. Protest now is the mark of intollerance and has to be suppressed.
I agree in principle. But it's hard to reconcile the fact that the PDRC's mobs were allowed to run wild for seven months and now a small number of protesters are being forcefully suppressed simply for standing up for their freedom. I'd say it's obvious that the military's complete absence during the past several months was driven by an ulterior motive that more or less falls in line with what the PDRC wanted all along.
Just a quick report on the day in Bangkok before I hit the sack:
The military deployed an incredible force all over the city today: reports are saying anywhere from 6,000 to 8,000 soldiers. No more than 30 protesters were seen in any one place. Protests were basically nonexistent at any of the places the military was expecting them. It proved pointless to close Ratchdamri, Chitlom and Phloen Chit BTS stations, which remained closed until late afternoon, as protesters never showed in that area. Instead they popped up unexpectedly at Terminal 21, my favorite mall on Sukhumvit. A friend and I were actually heading there to see a movie and arrived coincidentally when the protest was just starting. There were probably 10 journalists with cameras for every one protester on the skywalk in front of the mall. Before long the soldiers showed up in force but protesters were allowed to do their thing without much interference. The mall and Asok BTS station closed down. Lots of regular tourists were hanging around confused, just wanting to go shopping.
Other small flash protests popped up at Wat Pho, Grand Palace, Thammasat University, Benjasiri Park and outside a mall in Lat Phrao (north Bangkok). Phahon Yothin MRT station was also temporarily closed. Soldiers closed off the skywalk in front of MBK late afternoon, apparently expecting protests that never materialized from what I understand. You'd have to say it was a successful day for the protesters; a very small number managed to make a huge statement, thanks to the soldier's huge reaction. Doesn't really show that the military is achieving its goal of restoring order.
No serious violence was reported. A few arrests were made. The arrival of a military humvee with a mounted machine gun at Asok was worrisome. By far the most worrisome occurrence was a woman unwillingly pushed into a taxi by two men believed to be plain clothes military or police. Here's the video. Reporters at the scene said it happened after she held up three fingers in what has emerged as the protesters' common signal of defiance. It's pretty surreal that, just like in the book/movie The Hunger Games, people currently in Thailand may be taken into custody just for holding up their hand with three fingers.
Just a note specifically on that Bangkok Post video -- I think it is important to note nobody really knows what was going on there -- a journalist camera man at the scene that Mrs Travelfish knows said:
"she walked past us screaming "help" but she couldn't convey to the fixer i was working with what was wrong... it sounds naive but it looked like a domestic dispute- not that it makes it any better...but cameramen were running after anything that was dynamic at that station..."
So, as with many things going on, they may not be as they appear.
Good point. Bangkok Post, AP and Wall Street Journal all reported it was "alleged plain clothes police" or something to that effect. But I don't know who can substantiate that. What it does show regardless is how little a lot of people trust the authorities right now.
This article from this morning appears more confident that it was plain clothes police, identifying one of them: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/413066/anti-junta-protesters-to-fight-until-poll
"But I don't know who can substantiate that. What it does show regardless is how little a lot of people trust the authorities right now."
I have to disagree here. I saw the video. Who was doing what to whom and why was not completely clear at the time. Certainly some people are going to stroke this for their own purposes. But I would argue that in general the Army is the only trusted institution mixed up in this whole conflict.
#90 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
BTW there were no protests here over the weekend. Army presence is exceedingly small. Things are completely normal again.
#91 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Hey there. Just signed up because I simply HAD to post a thank you for the in-depth information you guys have provided from the ground. Am planning a trip into BKK next month and I do not see myself changing my plans to do so. I've needed this trip as I have just come to a start of my working life and want to do something for myself before I no longer have the chance to. Hopefully it isn't my first stupid post-education decision HAHAHA. Will be continually monitoring your 'live' updates on the situation in BKK and once again, a very big THANK YOU!
#92 metalmouth has been a member since 5/6/2014. Posts: 1
People who work can have overseas holidays every year or 2 if they save their money. Loads of tourists in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. They would outnumber the 18 to 21yos by 5 to 1.
I would be going to islands if you want to relax.
#93 Turkishpizza has been a member since 11/5/2014. Posts: 40
Enjoy your trip, metalmouth. Not much has changed here this week other than the curfew being lifted in Samui, Phuket and Pattaya. I expect the curfew to be lifted in several other areas popular with travelers soon, re this article. Bangkok probably not for a while, but life feels normal in the city on most days. No violence at all since the coup happened and the lack of big groups of protesters has really been nice after so many months of dealing with that. Wouldn't say Thailand is out of the woods yet, but for now, things are peaceful. Note that we'll only be writing new updates if the situation warrants it. If you don't see one, it means little has changed. Not sure yet if we'll see anti-coup protests again this weekend.
Does anyone know if the overnight sleeper trains are running, I was planning on getting the overnight to Chumpon from Bangkok so I can get to ko tao? Xx
#95 loella88 has been a member since 8/6/2014. Posts: 1
loella88, yes they are running.
By the way curfew has now been lifted in: Phuket, Pattaya, Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Chang, Hua Hin, Cha-am, all of Krabi province (so Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta as well as Ao Nang and Krabi town), all of Phang Nga province (includes Khao Lak, Ko Yao Noi and Yai, etc.) and Hat Yai. The latter is surprising considering a fairly recent bomb attack that was spillover from the unrest in the far south. Seems like they should just lift the curfew on all islands; my guess is that places like Ko Samet, Ko Tao and Ko Lipe haven't been lifted because they haven't specifically applied for it, which is probably because they're not abiding by it anyway.
Man I have to send a note to my buddy to get it lifted in Mukdahan!
#98 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Curfew lifted nationwide. Just announced on Thai TV after General Prayuth's Friday address.
An Open Letter from Minor Group's Bill Heinecke, a Local's Take on the Coup
Prominent Western businessman Bill Heinecke, based in Thailand for over 51 years, has published an open letter expressing his distress over the international media and Western governments' interpretation of the recent coup in Thailand, as well as the events leading up to the coup. (See full letter here: http://www.tatnews.org/open-letter-minor-groups-bill-heinecke/.)
Mr. Heinecke argues that the coup in Thailand was "a necessary step that was taken reluctantly. ... The military showed great restraint as it stood by watching the situation deteriorate, allowing ample time and opportunity for the politicians to resolve the crisis. The price for that period was paid for by the Thai people, in blood, stress and economic sacrifice and only when it was clear that that there was no other reasonable solution did the Thai military step in."
He goes on to say that the coup "provides the platform for an effective 'reboot' of Thai democracy that will meet the needs and aspirations of the Thai people," which everyone wants; current events are a part of the struggle of a young democracy.
Mr. Heinecke believes that "exaggerated media reports ... paint a distorted and unrealistic picture of the situation in the Kingdom" which is unnecessarily causing travelers to cancel their trips to the Kingdom, further harming the Thai economy and the livelihood of thousands of Thais in the hospitality industry.
He goes on to warn the media that if they continue "to promote sensationalistic and simplistic viewpoints of the situation in Thailand, they not only do a disservice to the viewing public but also run a very real risk of making themselves irrelevant."
In conclusion, Mr. Heinecke calls for realistic, sensible reporting from the ground in Thailand and states that, "Thailand very much remains open for business and is as safe, friendly and welcoming destination for tourists as it has always been."
#100 yippie65 has been a member since 12/5/2011. Posts: 27
Heinecke is not your average "local." His most recent letter, which contradicted some of the things he said in a letter he wrote in February, received all kinds of flack from political analysts who are also "locals," as in they live in Thailand too. His primary goal seems to be to make Thailand look perfectly peachy to tourists no matter what might going on here. Here's one analyst's response: http://asiancorrespondent.com/123702/businessman-must-not-distort-the-facts/
"Thailand very much remains open for business and is as safe, friendly and welcoming destination for tourists as it has always been."
This is still a true statement, all else aside.
#103 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Easy to criticize a billionaire, but many articles are writing about how contentious this intervention is, what is now happening, and where it will go.
Every day one reads and hears about how happy people are that they are tackling may longstanding problems and issues head on.
As an expat living and working in Thailand for the past quarter century, my attitude has certainly become more Thai in many respects: explaining how a coup could be seen as a positive development is one such cultural contradiction encountered in times such as these.
After months of increasing confrontation and violence on the streets, it became clear to many involved that extraordinary action needed to be taken before the situation deteriorated to a far worse state. Thus the military intervention on May 22nd was met with relief and even understanding by diverse elements of the population, despite the common regret that the political stalemate apparently needed to be resolved in such a manner.
Travelers and potential tourists living abroad are routinely exposed to what is often highly biased if not fearful perspectives on how life is on the ground throughout the Kingdom at this time. Although neither a political scientist nor a journalist, I can report on my experience of daily life in Thailand the past month, which is carrying on as normal. Work and travel throughout the country is unrestricted and functioning normally.
In short, Thailand is now safer for travel than it was before the coup, and the support and contributions that tourists make to the lives of many working people are important and most welcomed. Frankly, thereâ€™s probably no better time to visit Thailand than now: the heat has broken; the afternoon rains are typically short and refreshing; crowds are slim on the ground; and there are amazing deals and promotions to be had throughout the Kingdom.
#104 yippie65 has been a member since 12/5/2011. Posts: 27
Let's update on Thailand's situation... might help you more confident in Thailand like i do:
Thailand is always ready to welcome tourists with a friendly smile. Visitors planning to visit the kingdom need not worry about the country being under the administration of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) as that has had no impact on Thailandâ€™s tourism at all.
Thailand remains a safe tourist destination, offering a wide variety of tourist attractions, ranging from unique culture, abundant natural beauty and remarkable variety of activities, including soft-adventure, spa, shopping and medical tourism.
As a matter of fact, Thailandâ€™s reputation as one of the worldâ€™s most popular tourist destinations is being strengthened. The NCPO has introduced and enforced a series of measures and developments in an aim to help improve the experience of travellers and tourists visiting the kingdom.
Over the last couple of weeks, Bangkokâ€™s Suvarnabhumit Airport and Phuket International Airport have seen actions and measures launched in a bid to clampdown on the illicit control of taxi operations. Phuket has also witnessed its popular beaches in Surin, Bang Tao, Laypang and Layan being returned to their natural pristine states, following a clear-out of beach encroachment. Pattaya has also witnessed its beachside walk being cleared-out of illegal business operations.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), meanwhile, is working on a series of tourism marketing and promotion activities to attract tourists to the kingdom during the remainder of this year as well as the years to come. Among the strategies is the plan to reiterate the charms of Thai culture and heritage.
#105 chiewn14 has been a member since 18/6/2014. Posts: 4