By Barry Kenyon

Anything and everything about Thailand
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Jun
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Re: By Barry Kenyon

Post by Jun »

A few weeks back, one of the news outlets reported one of the government ministers whinging about unpaid medical bills.

I don't remember the total sum, but what I do remember was that after dividing that by the number of tourists, the cost per head was negligible.

Just a few baht, when the tourists will be spending several thousand per day, supporting the struggling tourism sector. The debts would be more than covered by taxes raised off tourists.
Now in the last couple of years, the Thai government has been supporting the economy with various measures, but none of these would be as cost effective as making life very easy for inbound tourists. Who more than pay their way in Thailand.
For instance, they have applied large subsidies to domestic tourists, who merely re-circulate money within the economy. Ignoring the minute unpaid medical bills for foreign tourists would have a far bigger economic benefit.

Instead of looking at the big picture, the junta are looking at the small problems and are penny pinching.

They need a 3 step approach:
1 Remove the inbound insurance requirement (for now)
2 Stop the enforced incarceration of tourists who fail covid tests. Apparently they are moving in that direction for residents, so why apply these rules to tourists ?
3 Stop all testing of vaccinated inbound tourists.

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

Post by gerefan »

Barry Kenyon wrote:
Fri Mar 04, 2022 4:42 pm
The cost is based only on the country of departure. For example, 30 days cover for Covid-only illness from UK is 3,700 baht or about 85 pounds. However, the website’s drop-down box currently restricts applications to 30 days only and still specifies US$50,000, not US$20,000.

Given that government regulations notionally require visitors to be covered for the entirety of their stay,
Thank you for quoting the article Gaybutton.

I have pointed this out many times here and on other sites. The policy is no use to anyone over 75 who wants to stay more than 30 days.

“Government regulations notionally require visitors to be covered for the entirety of their stay”. WRONG.

There is nothing “notional” about it. Insurance is MANDATORY, for the full 90 days, prior to the issue of a 90 day Thai Pass. Has Mr Kenyon ever had to apply for one....I doubt it!

Border runs are not possible and my understanding is only two 30 day visa exempt stamps are permitted each year anyway. Therefore visiting immigration is not the answer for someone over 75 wanting a 90 day stay.
TIT

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

Post by Gaybutton »

Myth and reality collide in Pattaya’s night spots

By Barry Kenyon

March 6, 2022

In theory, Pattaya is still in semi-lockdown. All bars and clubs are supposedly shuttered unless holding a special health and safety certificate showing that, in spite of appearances, they are a restaurant after all. The law dictates that customers and staff in licensed premises must be health tested for the pesky virus. Meetings or gatherings over 50 people require special dispensation from city authorities. Many edicts from the provincial governor’s office are technically still in force, including compulsory mask wearing in public and restriction of massage services to feet and ankles.

In practice, Pattaya has excused itself. Down on Soi Bukhao, the new center of nightly revelry, it’s business as usual, or rather as it used to be. The only evidence of health precautions at Tree Town was a small scribbled sign saying, “Do not put used masks in the trash”. Social media keeps you well informed. The newly-opened Dorothy’s Showbar in the Jomtien Complex is a “food and beverage consultant” with “shows on stage”, an intelligent resolution of legal ambiguity.

Other “entertainment” is back in business too. The popular Hemingways restaurant has reinstituted its weekly quiz, many snooker bars have removed their dust covers and the local bridge club operates two afternoons a week. The local radio station 103 has quietly withdrawn its fierce ad telling people they should just walk away from businesses which don’t health-test you on entry, whilst a bar in Sexy Soi Six confirmed its stock of ATK virus kits was temporarily out of stock.

The dominant view at Pattaya police station appears to be that all such matters are the province of the health and civic authorities. The boys in brown will restrict their attention to what is easily recognizable – a closing time at 11 pm to forestall a virus which presumably loves the wee hours. But even this diktat is slipping. The English loophole of “drinking up time” is making an appearance, whilst street rumors abound of where it is safe to continue imbibing. The Pattaya entertainment operators association says “it is time to end the charade”. Amen to that.

https://www.pattayamail.com/latestnews/ ... ots-391429

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

Post by Gaybutton »

Unpopular Thailand Pass entry rules may end

By Barry Kenyon

March 11, 2022

The Thai tourism ministry has indicated that Thailand may simplify the rules of entry as early as July 1. This is the provisional date when Bangkok authorities may reclassify the coronavirus pandemic as an epidemic. The principal advantage would be to end pre-authorization for vacationers and enable them to fly to Thailand armed only with their documents: passport, airticket and a negative pre-flight RT-PCR test result.

Tourist Authority governor Yuthasak Supasorn said that surging oil prices and the invasion of Ukraine had dented earlier predictions that international tourism was about to surge, thus indicating the need for immigration liberalization for short-stay tourists. At present, they must register in advance via the government website, obtain medical insurance, show a pre-flight PCR negative test and book a hotel on arrival for a temporary quarantine of several hours pending a second health check.

Some neighboring countries are already introducing simplified entry procedures. The Philippines require a pre-flight PCR test, but the government website insists only on “self monitoring” for a week after arrival. Cambodia does require an ATK test, taken at the airport on arrival, but claims the process takes only 20 minutes. Malaysia is set to introduce visas on arrival from April 1, with evidence of a pre-flight PCR test and “an ATK test taken within 24 hours of arrival”, although the precise bureaucracy is not clear.

Vietnam and Laos are both reviewing their tourist entry procedures, but joining a tour group is the main loophole at present for those wishing to visit. Thailand’s land borders with all neighboring countries remain closed for foreign tourists for now, although there are reports of some crossings at Cambodian and Laos entry points. The opening of Thai border posts is believed to be under review to coincide with a projected July 1 liberalization. Insisting on health tests at Thai land frontiers would be a gigantic problem because of the numbers involved.

Thailand is also considering abolition of the mandatory Covid insurance of at least US$20,000, downgraded from US$50,000 last month. Although the Philippines still insists on insurance worth at least US$35,000, the Cambodian government website shows no compulsory cover for tourists (although some are required to have a bond worth US$2,000 in case they catch the disease) and there is no mention of mandatory insurance in the latest Malaysian announcements of intent.

Travel agents say that pre-registration on government websites is the biggest drawback to a tourist revival in Thailand. But the long-distance market is being badly hit by the deteriorating international political situation. The Thai authorities will likely concentrate on short-haul visitors, especially from India, with travel bubbles already on the cards. However, the collapse of Thailand Pass (if it happens) will be welcomed by long-haul fans of Thailand from Britain, mainland Europe, Australia and beyond. Thailand is hoping to reach a 626 billion baht inflow this year from international tourists. Without significant immigration letups, that simply can’t happen.

https://www.pattayamail.com/latestnews/ ... end-391875

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

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Pattaya’s Walking Street puts its best leg forward

By Barry Kenyon

March 14, 2022

Waitresses with frilly skirts and white socks are back on Pattaya’s most famous strip. Several nightclubs, formerly go go bars but recently transformed into eateries with a special certificate from the health and safety executive, are now recruiting street customers more or less like they always did. The sole difference in March 2022 is that the chrome pole dancers, wearing a hairnet and not much else, are absent from darkened stages. That’s the idea anyway.

There are no longer crowds thronging the Walking Street, but appearances can be deceptive. Khun Wee, a security officer outside Club 808, confided “Many of the visitors before the pandemic were Chinese tour groups who came to gawk and maybe visit a convenience store. But they never spent a baht in a nite spot. But the tourists now are mostly Europeans eager to enjoy themselves in female company rather than wandering around the Street.” He concluded that business wasn’t great but better than you might think.

The Street has other surprises in store. Halfway down, there is a fairground-style gun stall where you can target-practice with handguns or rifles. Dana, the assistant on duty, said, “We thought the Americans were coming for Christmas, but they never showed up here.” He explained that not all his customers are interested in becoming a crack shot. “One depressed guy yesterday wanted to rent a gun to blow his brains out. He said he’d tried to drown himself in the sea, but the tide was out.”

Then there’s the mystery of the Nashaa nightclub which was totally destroyed by fire last year. Explanations at the time varied from exploding gas cylinders and rats gnawing through wires to nightwatchmen hastily cooking a meal and much darker theories of deliberate conflagration. No public explanation has ever been given. The nearest we got was a statement by the chief insurance assessor six months ago that his findings were “interesting”.

The once-famous tourist police and their foreign volunteers, featured in the TV series Big Trouble in Thailand, have vanished from Walking Street. Never to return we are told. In fact, the one kilometer complex seems to be self-policing these days with no visible sign of the boys in brown most evenings. The caretaker at a crumbling bar, apparently known as Beware of the Dog, thinks he has the answer. “All the bars have bouncers to take care of any trouble makers. Having uniformed police patrolling outside all these nighteries, now magically transformed into restaurants, isn’t really a good idea.” He adds a wink.

The one million dollar question, of course, is the future of Walking Street. Loyalists say that the 75 percent of premises still shuttered will open again once mass tourism resumes. Realists say that the powers-that-be want change which basically means demolition and replacement by a business and leisure district (neo-Pattaya) emulating Miami or Singapore. In the end, it’ll depend on what the cash-rich Thai and Chinese investors of the Eastern Economic Corridor decide to do. The guys who have already built the ring roads, transformed the piers, repaired the beaches (or tried to) and planned a high speed railway to Bangkok are hardly impressed by Pattaya’s traditions. Expect the debate to heat up in the autumn.

https://www.pattayamail.com/latestnews/ ... ard-392335

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

Post by gerefan »

I was out for my evening walk a few weeks ago and had the misfortune to end up trying to walk down Walking Street.

A Walking Street it is not.

The kerbs are dug up and so the street is barely wide enough for a vehicle to pass. Talking of which, it is now open for traffic 24 hours a day. The roadworks, plus the numerous cars and motor bikes make it virtually impossible to stroll down the street at all in places.

Add to that the terrible noise (yes noise...it cannot be called music) emanating from some of the bars makes for a miserable experience.

Finally there are the bouncers as mentioned in the article. Three or four, all dressed in black, outside each of the larger bars. A real turn off.

You can keep it.

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

Post by Gaybutton »

gerefan wrote:
Tue Mar 15, 2022 8:01 pm
Finally there are the bouncers as mentioned in the article. Three or four, all dressed in black, outside each of the larger bars.
Menacing bouncers rather than a police presence. Not my idea of improvement. And who is even in Pattaya right now, let alone navigating Walking Street, for them to bounce?

Even if that "terrible noise" actually constituted music, the very fact that it can be heard in the street is enough to tell me the volume, as usual, is much too high for me. I've never understood why anyone would think that is necessary.

I had been thinking about taking a stroll through Walking Street just to see what's going on. After reading your report, that idea has been shelved.

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

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Midnight closing for Jomtien gay bars torpedoed

By Barry Kenyon

March 18, 2022

Strong rumours circulating last week that a provincial governor’s edict had softened the 11 pm closing time – to allow a full extra hour of indulgence and frivolity – were shown to be very wrong after police raids at the Jomtien Complex. Police major Kongpol said that concerned members of the public had alerted the authorities to serious breaches of the licensing laws which could well compromise the government’s health policies.

Officers visited every bar, checking paperwork and ascertaining that the safety and health executive’s certificates on display were not forgeries. Management, hosts and imbibers were reminded that 11 pm remains the closing time and that the British loophole of “drinking up time” is not a phenomenon found in the Land of Smiles.

The Jomtien Complex is a (mainly) one street venue for open-to-the-street gay bars of which about ten are currently open. A police statement after the raids stated that they had been ordered to stop service at 11 pm in accordance with national and local decrees. Bar owners said everyone takes these raids with equanimity as they are “part of the scene”.

Although raids for drinking after-hours in the Pattaya region are the most common reason, there have been some noteworthy specials. A gogo dancer was arrested in 2019 for being naked on stage, but argued that a top hat was surely sufficient cover. A nightery was visited in the same year after reports that staff were playing cards behind-stage even as a cabaret was in full swing.

https://www.pattayamail.com/news/midnig ... oed-392772

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

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Tourists hoping to enter Thailand by land should maybe think again

By Barry Kenyon

March 19, 2022

The Thai foreign affairs ministry is reminding international travellers that most land border crossing points remain closed to foreign tourists and expats. The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration agreed on Friday to abolish pre-flight virus tests for all fully-vaccinated arrivals from April 1, but this does not mean that the Test and Go entry bureaucracy has collapsed for those flying in or just wanting to walk across a border.

The CCSA announcement clarified that, in addition to airports, only four land border posts were open to tourists and expats: Nongkhai and Udon Thani (near the Laos border) and Songkhla and Satun (near Malaysia). But entrants there still need to apply in advance via the digital platform Thailand Pass by uploading several documents including vaccination status, proof of booking into a Thai hotel pending the result of the RT-PCR post-arrival test, the US$20,000 insurance requirement as well as personal documentation. This process can take up to seven days according to the Tourist Authority of Thailand website.

There are no Thai immigration posts on the Cambodian border currently accepting tourists and expats, although the Cambodian government website indicates that Koh Kong and Poi Pet are theoretically available for entry into Cambodia. Visitors to Aranyaprathet crossing, in eastern Thailand, said that only goods transport, local farmers, tradespeople and guest workers with work permits were being admitted.

A spokesman for the Declaration of Thai Industries (DTI), which has campaigned for freer travel rules, said foreign tourists by land could use only the four designated entry points and must bring with them the Test and Go permission which includes a QR code. “You can’t just arrive with your passport as in the past.” DTI also pointed out that Cambodia and Vietnam, main competitors to Thailand’s tourist industry, had recently introduced respectively 30 and 15 days permits for vaccinated arrivals by air without the need for any prior approval or online booking.

Many foreigners in Thailand have wondered when land borders will re-open to facilitate visa runs and short visits to neighboring countries without the heavy cost of air fares. Until Thailand collapses the need for prior online approval of wannabe entrants, the land border opportunities will remain limited for most visitors as the documentation required is the same. However, visitors arriving by sea by yacht, not a big number, can apply to the local immigration authority for a Certificate of Entry on their port arrival.

In a related move, Thai immigration authorities are reminding long-stay tourists and expats that holding a re-entry permit on leaving Thailand does not bypass the need to apply for online Test and Go prior to coming back. “A valid re-entry permit protects an existing visa, but all entrants require prior Thailand Pass permission irrespective of visa status,” confirmed a Bangkok immigration hotline consultant. Returning expats have been refused boarding of their flight when they failed to show a Test and Go QR code.

https://www.pattayamail.com/latestnews/ ... ain-392848

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

Post by Jun »

Gaybutton wrote:
Tue Mar 15, 2022 8:55 pm
I had been thinking about taking a stroll through Walking Street just to see what's going on. After reading your report, that idea has been shelved.
One of my preferred routes is to start off with a walk around Sunee, then head down the hill past Nice Boys, across second road & cut through one of the back alleys to Walking Street, turn right & head up to Boyztown. That way, I cover both gay areas of South Pattaya and not too much time is wasted on Walking Street.
On one of those walks, I noticed one of the girlie gogo bars was open and actually enforcing the requirement to test before entering. I don't quite understand the logic, since gogo bars are not permitted to open and it's therefore illegal to open with or without a test. I would imagine the testing limits customer numbers.

If you start & finish near Sunee, there will be no problem parking.

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