Thailand Weekly Vol. 06
Thailand news and stories delivered free to your inbox every Sunday 🇹🇭
Welcome to the sixth edition of Thailand Weekly. Hope you’re all having an awesome weekend and are one day closer to coming back to Thailand! As you’ll read below, it’s about to get easier, that’s for sure. Be sure to check out the @ThailandWeekly Twitter for daily snippets from the Kingdom and also head on over to our new YouTube Channel called Best Of Thailand where you can get bite-sized video recommendations of places to enjoy while you’re here.
No More Smelly Canals?
Time to rejuvenate Bangkok’s canals? Although the capital is well-known for its amazing restaurants, activities, attractions, and nightlife, it can also be a stinky city. Between the heat, pollution, street food, and canals (also known as khlongs in Thai), a quick 10 minute-walk almost anywhere in the city often results in a bit of an overload to your sense of smell. Some good. Some not so much.
A big part of Bangkok’s pungent stink comes from untreated wastewater that runs underneath the city and then ultimately makes it’s way into the very khlongs that people use for transportation on a daily basis.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha wants to improve this. The best example of a succesful khlong revitalization project is the One Ang canal, which was once known as the smelliest area in the city. It has become a hub off culture, entertainment, and food after a multi-year cleanup.
The Government has agreed to take further action by opening up the area’s drainage system and increasing circulation in connecting waterways. The idea is that the constant water movement will play a part in minimizing the stink that Bangkok is well-known for. It’s a great start, but there’s still a long way to go in cleaning up parts of this wonderful city.
I’ve mentioned it before here on Thailand Weekly, but one thing that’s amazed me since moving to Thailand is how fast these types of projects tend to move. Where I’m from, any major improvements in infrastructure can take decades to complete. As a Bangkok resident myself, I’m hoping that the same level of speed that I’ve seen across other projects is replicated here. Time will tell. For now, I’ll continue to prepare my sense of smell for battle every time I step out of my condo!
PCR Tests To Be Axed?
Thailand is planning to remove the mandatory arrival PCR test that tourists currently have to take before they’re able to travel freely throughout the country. Anutin Charnvirakul, the deputy prime minister and public health minister said that the proposal was to be submitted during a CCSA meeting this past Friday.
Tourists would still have to do a rapid ATK test at the airport upon arrival, but as part of the proposal, vaccinated travellers would no longer need to be book a one-night stay in an approved hotel. The idea is to have this go into effect starting next Month on May 1st.
The news comes as Thailand cancelled the pre-departure test requirement as of April 1st in a bid to lure more people to the Kingdom. Across Southeast Asia, it’s a competitive landscape as neighbouring countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, and Cambodia quickly move to fully reopen their borders with minimal requirements.
For those of you that are desperately waiting to book your next trip to Thailand, this news might be enough for you to pull the trigger, or it might not be. Either way, things are quickly moving in the direction that many of us want, which is fully opened borders with no tests, no quarantine, and no proof of vaccination. I can already start to feel Thailand getting busier here in the city, as well as in the Islands. I took a trip to Railay Beach three weeks ago and have honestly never seen it as lively as it was. Certain parts of Koh Samui felt the same way when I was there last week. You can read more about the four step plan that will result in a fully opened up Thailand in a previous version of Thailand Weekly to better understand the exact timeline.
Thailand Travel Tip
One of the things that can be a pain whether you’re travelling to Thailand or living here is the fact that you’re on a completely different version of the internet. The Netflix content is different. Certain sites are blocked. Pricing on the same online items may be more expensive. The list goes on and on. It’s SO different that I asked my girlfriend to help me find a personal trainer on the internet that she uses everyday because the version I’m accustomed to was only showing expensive options.
There’s all sorts of use-cases where having a VPN makes life easier and I’d definitely recommend subscribing to one before your next trip here. I’ve found Express VPN to be the fastest and most consistent. I mainly use it to access banking documents back in Canada, unlock regional sporting events like hockey games, and compare flight prices. Subscribers to Thailand Weekly get an extra 3 free months on a 1-year subscription.
No More Single-Use Plastics In Nationals Parks
On Wednesday, the government announced that single-use plastics and styrofoam packaging is immediately banned across all of Thailand’s National Parks. The immediate action comes as Thai-waters are full of waste that threatens local ecology, and people have started to find plastic bags in elephant feces in Khao Yai National Park.
Offenders can be fined of up to 100,000 THB (USD $3000) if they are found to bring single-use containers, packages, straws, cutlery, etc. According to the Ocean Conservancy Organization, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, The Philippines, and Thailand make up half of the world’s plastic waste that ends up in oceans.
I definitely don’t put the plastic-waste blame on street food vendors or local businesses like many people do. I can only imagine that when you’re working 7-days a week to put food on the table for your family, the single-use bags and straws that come with the goods that you sell isn’t exactly a priority. The cheapest option that enables survival is obviously going to be the choice that you go with. It’s on the leaders to put financial incentives into place to make sustainability easier, cheaper, and more accessible.
I do think that this is a solid move by the Thai Government to minimize plastic waste generated in this country. It’s all part of Thailand’s greater plan to make daily plastic items 100% recyclable by 2027. There’s still LOTS that needs to be done in order to make a meaningful difference in the fight against plastic waste, but each step in the right direction is a small-victory.
Only In Thailand 🇹🇭
Khon Kaen police have arrested a trans woman that goes by the name of ‘Dreamy Dao’ for creating and distributing pornogrphic content on the popular OnlyFans website. She was making over 100,000 THB per month from her 430 subscribers. To be fair, this enforcement isn’t something that that’s unique to Thailand. It’s illegal in lots of countries around the world.
It does highlight an important question though. Should this type of work be illegal? Thais are certainly divided on it. Lots of locals feel that police should be dealing with ‘real crime’ instead of going after those making a living in a way that you might disagree with. Kanchai Khlaikhlueng, the Chief of of the Cyber Crime Investigation bureau wants to continue to crack down on this world in order to prevent others from doing the same. The point of it all is to uphold the good morale standards of Thailand. It’s an interesting question that will continue to come up as it becomes easier and easier to make a living on the internet.