Archive for June, 2020

 

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Thailand has proven to be a relative haven from the Covid Influenza that’s killed and sickened so many people around the world. Even with few comparable deaths, only 58 so far, the financial consequences of the lock-down have been devastating to millions. Daily pay workers lives have been turned upside down by a state mandated unemployment.

Rich in the past when tourism and industry was bolstered by lassiez-faire global trade, and… how we all took so much for granted, the virus has exposed how poor average people are with scant savings and little state welfare. Thailand has been locked down for three and a half months. The reaction to Covid was swift. Temperature checks and masks were imposed immediately.

A curfew was instated, malls, social venues, bars, restaurants and public transportation banned. Q Codes and temperature checks are mandatory to enter and leave any building including all residential buildings. That was in place and enforced the first three months. Bangkok, a city of twelve million was a ghost town. Beach resorts and surrounding communities were closed. Liquor sales have been prohibited.

If it weren’t for an openly generous community donating to temples that feed the long lines of near-starving with food distribution, there would be chaos. But, the Thai people are stoic and orderly. There are no riots, no burning revolution as we see in so many countries where people are simply furious due to lock-down related boredom.

Measured openings are scheduled to be tested. A few select foreigners will be allowed back in the country soon. Right now there are no foreign travelers or tourists entering or exiting the country. Foreigners such as ourselves who choose to live here longer term have no choice except to wait it out. There is no leaving. There are no international flights. All land borders closed. Current rules in place would not allow us to re-enter if we left. There is no provision in place to allow us back into our homes were we to leave.

Our home country doesn’t allow us to repatriate without harsh conditions of ‘self-isolation’. Currently there are no ‘in transit’ opportunities in South East Asia, foreigners are banned from all countries regardless. We are well and truly stranded if you want to call it that. Still, it’s nice to be here. The weather is always beautiful.

We have a very organized staff in our residential complex and they take great care to keep our swimming pools and fitness facilities clean and in top condition. The sweeping views from a wrap around balcony in a high tower are spectacular. We’re surrounded by exotic temples and canals. It’s monsoon season and enormous rainbows are the norm. The technology access for cable and internet is first world. It’s all advance reservation only these days. No new people can move into the building.

The delivery industry took off with the advent of Covid. Usually there were already plenty of delivery services but with all the courier motorcycles out of their usual work they took to delivering food and catalog ordering in huge numbers. It’s a boon to us really. It’s so much easier than going out to shop. Getting anywhere in the heat is a chore. They have a saying here, “The only people you see outside are the poor and the tourists”.

Middle class Thai are rarely seen walking the streets or picking through open markets. It’s too hot to eat outside, few do. For the cost of a small tip, everything gets delivered within minutes. A personal shopper can do all your grocery shopping for you, free of charge courtesy of the store.

Anyone planning to visit or return to Thailand if and when it opens will find big changes and restrictions everywhere. The government is not planning on opening the country to anyone seeking to wander around freely. The stated plan is to only allow ‘travel bubbles’ that restrict where you go, and when you arrive your movements will be closely monitored. This is fine for us, we rarely leave our neighborhood, or GRAB CAR range, but for backpackers and thrill seekers, the experience may not resemble what you’ve seen in ‘Hangover’ movies.

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You shattered my illusion of love

Mean world syndrome set in

Sadness

A boat in the water

Tiger in the forest

 

Transcendent poet in morbid lace and rancid leather

I wait for the sun to rise

Tired of this graveyard charade, time to kill

Strange imaginings drive my distraction

Then there was you

 

We swam upside down in silky water

I became unglued

We became entangled

I began loving you

Two bodies floating weightless on silver-black mercury

 

Vacant mind , stars weirdly blue

Paint on blank canvas

A theater of constellations, traveling left to right

Scorpio scratches at the southern horizon

 

Clouds at night have different meanings

Leave me breathless

We swim in circles

Diamonds appear

High as a kite

Overjoyed at what I’ve found

Melancholy won’t find me here

I’m with the wind

 

I don’t care which stars appear first

No order matters

I take a bullet for you

Love is a thunderbolt and distant thunder

Bending destiny to resemble our desire

Forging dreams into shapes we command

Desperate hope reigns supreme

I won’t fuck this up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Covid-19 Plague travel embargo is slowing and incrementally coming to an end. That doesn’t mean the plague is over. It appears to mean, politically at least,  that after a three month lock-down phase world economies are collapsing and can’t continue to remain closed.  Third world countries, where there is little welfare state infrastructure, have been hit much worse than western nations.

Many daily workers in Thailand have been reduced to penury. Decades of planning an economy dependent on tourism proved to be unsustainable. When knowledgeable economists say “The New Normal ” will change Thailand forever, they are stating fact. Tourism revenues will have to fund a shift to a more sustainable economy. Easier said than done. Change will have to come from the top.

Thailand has welcomed tourists for decades. However, visitors have never been welcomed into Thai society. Thai is a very structured and highly regulated society based on the Buddhist religion and a centuries old hierarchy . Your visit to Thailand resembles an individual in a bubble. You’re there, but you’re not. No matter where you go, on whatever budget you’ve chosen, how far above the street or how street level you are, you’re never other than ‘farang‘…. a foreigner.

Language is a huge barrier. Thai are shocked to hear a foreigner speak Thai, because so few ever learn even a few words. Thai are insulted. Instead foreigners accost Thai for food, drink or directions in pigeon-English, or brutish sign language,  expecting Thai to understand and respond. Thai respond positively if you can speak a few words of Thai. They appreciate every respectful gesture, being polite is still a widely accepted currency, spend generously.

Expect to find new barriers to your freedom. The Covid Lock-Down means that new rules are piled on old rules and Thai expect you to follow. Line-ups, closed area’s, mandatory distancing and masks, all… the new normal. You will find restrictions everywhere. The idea that Thailand is open for every bizarre behavior is the farthest thing from truth. Thai are by nature a very traditional and conservative people.

Salacious media, for reasons of selling advertising space in travel related publications, have in the past sold an isolated sensational microcosm of Thailand that few Thai have knowledge of or experience in. Personally, I have lived in Thailand for three decades and never once sat in a ‘girly bar‘. Expect Thai to express relief when you don’t ask for anything ‘weird‘. On your next visit to Thailand you can expect to visit a conservative country as ‘the new normal‘ insinuates additional restrictions into the travel industry.

The highly publicized sex industry, the 1960’s backbone of post-Vietnam war era Thai tourism has flat-lined. Ex-pat drunks have been sent packing as visa restrictions and currency fluctuation work to clear them out. Thailand has an official policy in such matters that has been highly effective, “Good guys in, Bad guys out”. Still a retirement tourism haven, Thailand successfully sells it’s excellent medical tourism and luxury nursing homes.

The Phangna Full Moon Party, and infamous  ‘Khao San Road’, all skillfully presented, never  mainstream, are being phased out. It’s all been a show, for an increasingly irrelevant and unwanted backpacker tourist. Each of these experiences was carefully measured for  value and have been found wanting. Expect Thailand Experiences to be further restrained.  Welcome back to Thailand… bring cash.

 

 

 

 

After the Plague

Posted: June 2, 2020 in Uncategorized

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Wake me when the volcano stops erupting

And the good night sounds are back

Nothing resurrects the past like yearning

I ride vibrations , a hidden world,  piano wire,  stretched taut, near breaking

A circle game, a spiders web, a carousel of cast-off things

I take a leap of faith when I close my eyes

No idea whats coming

Not knowing is the enemy of all mankind

You take the good with the bad

 

Adrift, an ocean of memories, I look back

I was young

Restless

Homeless

Free

I had hope

Wonder

I slept without fear under star-shine

I didn’t give a shit

 

“Take me back”

I ache for certain moments

Golden fields,  broken highway, southern plains

So vivid, blue, I can taste it, tantalizing

Wind swept, dry as dust, days from harvest

Air so fresh it crackles

I’ve burned my fingers in the meantime

Drowned myself, I flew away

And landed in a dream world floating on green water

 

This place takes bold lightning strikes in stride

Doesn’t judge me harshly

Love isn’t dealt out with a hammer

Full moon, heavy traffic,  echo of laughter

Held close, in the bosom of a heavenly blanket

I  see forever fail, another sunset, a meaningless horizon

I’m not going there

I’ll be travelling again soon

When the plague ends

And the volcano sleeps

And the good night sounds return

 

I yearn, I dream

About a time and place where it all began

Yellow field, a broken highway

A time when all was perfect

An image fragment reflected on broken mirror

Memories hang in the air, tremulous

 

Yellow field, cracked asphalt and green water

Shattered words, never lost

Carried along in a stream of consciousness, precious jewels

Waiting to reappear when the time is right

Stories that must be told

When the plague is over

And the volcano sleeps