It has been as interesting few days in Ao Nang, I’ve noticed many more offerings on the streets and in shops, and the Thai people taking more time to pray. I’ve seen many in tears just by seeing the King’s face on TV or in a paper.
The government has declared a 1 year mourning period, with a 30 day ban on any events, live music, dancing or song. All bars and nightclubs have been shut down, the red light district in Bangkok has been shut down, the famous full moon party has been cancelled, the Grand Palace has been closed and the Festival of Lights has been cancelled. And there is a ban on all alcohol sales for a minimum of 3 days unless you are ordering with food.
The police are enforcing the laws and are ensuring that these venues follow order. We are also reminded that the country is under Martial Law, which means authorities (e.g. police)can detain, arrest or deport people without reference to the judicial system.
It is upsetting to also see many Westerners show little to no respect in this time. With many furious at the alcohol ban, they are lashing out.We have been asked to dress in Sombre colours and respectable clothing, and have been told that certain behaviours that are usually tolerated will not be. Friday was declared a public holiday and although Saturday was not, it was very much treated that way. We spent most of the day pool side due to most of the town in mourning. Here we met a group of 35 on Contiki who had also been limited to the pool, they were on the last day of their tour and mentioned they ‘partied hard earlier in the week so they didn’t really mind.’ It will be interesting to see how tours groups will continue to travel through Thailand at this time, with many only booking the tour due to excessive drinking and late nights. Our local friend told us that she went to Phuket to visit friends on Friday night and the whole of Phuket was closed.
The Thai people have embarked in a year of wearing black, or where not possible (uniform) many are wearing black ribbons to show respect.
I’ve noticed the flights departing Thailand to bordering countries have risen today, as I guess many travellers are fleeing to find a more ‘party’ environment. Leading chains like ‘7 Eleven’ are following strict rules and are removing or covering up alcohol in shop. Little local vendors are also ‘hiding’ alcohol from view. However keep in mind that their shop is their lively hood and with a little discretion, sales are possible.
It’s a horrible time for the Thai’s to be going through, a time that nearly no one has lived in before. The last thing they need is their tourism industry falling because of the lack of party. Yes cheap booze is appealing, but their is much more to their culture that that.
I have been invited to a local Muslim village this afternoon, I believe their will be many sensitive souls. I feel very lucky to be welcomed into this community.