Saturday, November 30, 2013


Where will this end? And, when will it end? Protest follow protest for years and I am sick and tired of it. I am having a flashback memory to 26. November 2006 when I checked out of my hotel on Sukhumvit road and my taxi driver told me the airport was closed. Yeah, right...I thought this is another attempt to go shopping somewhere rather than going where I want to go to. 

2006 flash back
But as it turns out the airport was closed by yellow shirt protesters and it stayed closed for 11 days in which I got stuck in the Land of Smiles (yeah right!!).

Returning to my hotel, the price had already doubled! Being confined to my hotel room and answering worried family members and friends emails that I don't know when I would be able to leave, I decided to make the most out of it and go visit Ayutthaya for a few days. Hotels up there were cheaper and I finally managed to see all the temples I had ever wanted to see.

2006 flash back
But after a week, I had to get back to Bangkok, checked with airlines daily to see when I would be able to leave. I ran out of money (tough if you spent all that is on your bank account!) and medicine. The restaurants were empty, as most people left by buses to go south and cross the borders somewhere. I met a German girl who lost her new job, because she was not able to go home and start her new employment. And I was getting tired of being the only western tourist on the street who was hit by hundreds of street vendors. Buy this and buy that...if you have it already, buy another one!

2006 flash back
In the following years, I cancelled one trip all together and cut short two trips because of protests. This time by red shirt protesters!  But after 10 years of visiting Thailand and spending a lot of money there, I started going to Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia and avoided Thailand!

Just in 2012 I was finally starting to go back to Thailand. It seemed quiet, even if there was always an underlying feeling that things could flame up again. And they did. Just as I am about to go back to Bangkok in December, the streets are filled with all kinds of shirts, red, yellow, multi-coloured and who knows what else. And I am fine with the Thai's to sort out their political chaos. None of my business! But it does mean that this country is not reliable for long-term planning.

2010 flash back
Maybe backpackers do not care. Maybe you can't feel a thing in Pattaya's bars or on Phuket's beaches, but those are the tourists who visit once and then move on to another spot next year. Those are not the ones who spend money, other than beer and tourist crap at the night market.

Thailand is not aware of what the risk is for them. Not only do they suck in terms of English language skills, but by being so inwardly focused, they missed the opening of Myanmar to tourists who spend big bucks. They also missed all the developments Cambodia has undergone with grade A tourist spots. Angkor, Phreah Vihear and even a stroll along the Mekong in Phnom Penh is more fun than sitting in a bar in Bangkok. Malaysia's beaches are better than those in Thailand, Penang's food trail is awesome, Singapore blows my mind away each time I visit there and the people of Java are the friendliest people in the world. I could go on an on about alternatives to the Land of Smiles! 

But, dear protesters in Bangkok - when you go back to your everyday job, being it rice farming or in hotels, restaurants, banks or as taxi driver, I don't ever want to hear you say "now I have no money". And you will say it, because I have heard it over and over again. We will spend our tourist dollars in other countries, because we DO have a choice!  Singapore and Malaysia for 2014 are already booked!