A Tale of Highs and Lows
Just a few days into the third decade of the 21st century, life in Thailand has become all about ups and downs and highs and lows. Daily gossip in the office, at the market, over coffee in the local shop or just chatter between neighbours has centred on the value of the Baht, rising temperatures, tourist arrivals, support or non-support for the government, cannabis clinics and the kingdom’s water reserves.
Even before the clocks struck midnight on 31st December, the talk of the town was the value of the Thai Baht and how it was suffocating exporters, hotels, resorts, restaurants and tourist arrivals. The Bank of Thailand is acutely aware of the situation and although it might appear deaf to people’s problems, intervening at this stage could trigger currency manipulation repercussions from the powers that be in Washington DC, USA.
So for the time being, everyone that relies on an international market to earn a living are having to pull their belt in a little, while importers and those with dollar debts are enjoying life. Let’s just hope that international currency speculators are not given the chance to bilk the country out of billions of dollars as they did in 1997.
Although winter was extremely short-lived in Bangkok, it was very much welcomed during the early part of December. However, as with British summers, the ‘cold’ spell evaporated and temperatures quickly climbed back into the mid-30s again. While we’re no weather forecasters, the coming months are going to be hot, hot and hotter. This is a bit of a conundrum for the 70-million-plus souls that call Thailand home, as this year we have been told to expect severe water shortages.
Life would be just unimaginable if the looming water shortages led to any type of water rationing. Could you imagine only being able to shower once a day? However, our personal hygiene aside, the drought conditions have other serious consequences as sea water pushes its way up the Chao Phraya River into farm land and water production plants along the way. Crops would soon perish and water production could be halted if salinity in the Chao Phraya continues to rise. Let’s hope Mother Nature comes to the rescue with some much needed rainfall.
While we’re told by government agencies that tourist numbers continue to rise and 40-million-plus international visitors could have entered the country in 2019 (figures are still being calculated), those at the coalface are reporting all is not well. Hoteliers, restaurateurs and bar owners in Phuket, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui and Pattaya, some of Thailand’s biggest tourist draws, have all painted a bleaker picture. With so much fake news in the headlines these days, it is hard to know what to believe.
In other uplifting news, Thailand has opened the first clinic dispensing cannabis-based medicine. While there are several options for people with painful ailments to obtain cannabis and related medicines, with government support the situation can only get better. Who knows, it may even encourage proper research into the benefits of medical cannabis and help farmers move away from crops that cost more to grow and harvest than they can earn at market.
And finally, an amorous Russian couple were spotted having sex in public in the family-oriented seaside city of Pattaya recently. They were quickly reported to police for their open display of love and were charged with public indecency. Their punishment for such public debauchery? A Bt5,000 fine each, a public apology and wai and a quick exit from the country.