Archive for the ‘Culture And Politics In Thailand’ Category

Yet Again All Construction Work Comes To A Halt On Our Thailand Retirement House Build Project In Pakchong (Pak Chong)

Only a few days after our builder and labor had returned to site to continue building our retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong) as explained on the Thai House Roof Construction Problems page, he (and the labor) left site again!

This Time There Is No Mystery

The difference this time is that there is no mystery why the builder has left site. It’s Songkran and the biggest Thai holiday of the year.

Songkran Holiday Day In Thailand

Songkran Day is the traditional Thai New Year’s. It falls on the thirteenth of April every year. April is the hottest month. It is when the sun moves into the constellation Aries and the year changes.

Even though it is the hottest time, it is the time everybody looks forward to it. People take time off from work all over the country and there are games played everywhere. The official holiday is the three days from the thirteenth to the fifteenth of April. It is also the National Elderly Day and Family Day.

However, most people will ask for more days off or for vacation time. If they are not working for the government, they have to ask their employers. During April there is no ploughing going on so farmers can rest and have fun to their heart’s content.

During the three days of the celebration, there are activities like making merit with the monks, releasing birds and fish, pouring water on the monks, Buddha images, respected elders and other people. The water used is clean water that is mixed with perfume. The water used to splash on ordinary people can be just plain water.

This is the Thai holiday that people pay more attention to than any other. Many people go home to celebrate with their families. Lately, the fun and the tradition of the Songkran Festival has declined somewhat because of the tight economy, but it is still the most important holiday in Thailand.

Work Re-Starting Soon

Yesterday (Friday 15th April 2011) was the last day of the Songkran holidays and I’m expecting that the work will start on site again next Monday. I’ll check that with Kanyah tomorrow as I prepare for my trip to Thailand next week!

I’m Travelling To Thailand Despite The FO Travel Ban And The Unrest

As I mentioned in my last post “How A Foreigner Can Get The Legal Right To Use Land In Thailand” it’s time now (Thursday 29 April 2010) to visit Thailand to sign the Chanote, pay the balance of the land cost and finally take ownership of the land upon which we (my wife and myself) will build our retirement house.

In fact I have my air ticket and fly out from London Heathrow to Bangkok on Thai Airways flight TG917 on Friday evening. (Friday 30 April 2010)

Is It Safe To Travel To Thailand – What Travel Advice Is Being Given Out?

On the British Foreign Office website is a warning for people to avoid all but essential travel to the whole of Thailand due to the increasingly volatile and tense political situation.”

So, I have been keeping a close watch on the situation in view of my own trip to Thailand. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Royal Thai Embassy have asked for a meeting with the Foreign Office to try to get this travel warning lifted – or at least downgraded, and insist that a travel warning should only apply to bangkok, where most of the disturbances are taking place.

Before now the Foreign Office’s advice was only to avoid traveling to Bangkok, where 26 people have been killed in the anti-government protests and many hundreds have been injured. but now the advice is to avoid travelling to any part of Thailand.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Travel Advice

There is a very informative article on “Political Developments In Thailand: Advice For Visitors ” on the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s website.

They report as follows:-

“For tourists visiting the Kingdom, it should be stressed that foreigners have not been targeted in the on-going political conflict. However, visitors and tourists are advised to be vigilant, follow news developments, exercise extra caution and avoid areas near the UDD rally site and areas where demonstrators gather.” (Thursday 29th April 2010)

Thailand’s Ministry Of Foreign Affairs Website

The website of the Thai Ministry Of Foreign Affairs is great place to get updates on the political unrest situation in Thailand.

They report that the ‘Red Shirts’ are now protesting without wearing red shirts making the situation more uncontrollable and more dangerous for ordinary people.

When the Police tried to stop the Red Shirts demonstrators attempting to stage rallies and pass through the authorities’ checkpoint on Viphavadee Rangsit Road in the northern suburbs of Bangkok, heavy weapons were discovered – apparently left behind by a fleeing demonstrator. These weapons included 62 M79 grenades and some parts of a M203 grenade launcher.

Clearly the checkpoint on Viphavadee Rangsit Road is one place to avoid.

On a practical note, my main concern about my trip to visit Thailand to buy my retirement land is that there is a chance- albeit a slim one – that the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport could be closed down by protesters.

Is Now Really A Good Time To Thinking About Retiring In Thailand?

Given the civil unrest in Bankok, and dangers to Thais and tourists alike, not to mention the inconvenience of not being able to travel around Bangkok freely, is now really the best time to be considering retiring in Thailand?

I don’t know your take on that, but here’s mine:-

In the first place I’m not retiring to Thailand right now. I’m planning my retirement in Thailand now, but it will be at least another year before I’m ready to finally retire. But right now I definitely am planning and getting ready to retire in Thailand.

Here’s why I say that.

Sure, I am buying a plot of land to build our retirement home on in Thailand as you can read on the web page “Buying Our Land In Thailand

But having bought the land, and bought a a brand new car (Toyota Hilux pickup) in Thailand plus buying anew car here in the U.K. my pension pot has been eroded somewhat. Plus the retirement house we intend to build in Thailand that I have designed has been priced by a Thai Architect and at the moment it’s outside by current budget. So I need to stay here in the U.K. for a year or so to save up the cash to build the house.

Building the house I expect to be done in stages over a one year period.

So after a year (or thereabouts) I should have a place in Thailand to live. I already have a small (large for Thailand) monthly pension so I will have enough income.

Secondly, if you’re still with me, these troubles are temporary. Thailand has a history of unrest and Coups and I don’t suppose it’s going to change anytime soon. So I think that even if you postpone your retirement to Thailand for a year or even more, the situation will be more or less tha same.

In the longer term, there is some risk of things changing for the worst when King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand passes on. He is 82 now and has just made an appeal for stability in his first public speech since protests began in the capital seven weeks ago.

The people of Thailand love their King and has some stabalising influence on the country. “Our political system has been unstable all the time. So whenever there is a political crisis people expect the King to solve the problem” says Prof Suchit Bunbongkarn.

Former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun describes King Bhumibol’s authority as “reserve power” that, because it has been used judiciously and sparingly, has been decisive in maintaining the country’s stability.

That’s why there is such disconcerting concerns about a post-King Bhumibol era.

According to what my wife tells me there is no readily apparent suitable heir to the throne.

So post King Bhumibol I can expect Thailand to change. I’m not particularly referring to civil unrest – my concern is more related to any laws that may change and make life for a retiree in Thailand more difficult.

So perhaps now is a good time to retire in Thailand – before any laws change!

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