You may have heard in the media that Thailand has recently had some quite serious problems with its political situation. So you may ask, is it safe to travel to Thailand? This is the point of view from me as a local who loves to travel abroad and stay in each country for a long time!!
Let me try and make it clear by Q and A….
Question : What is the political problem now in Thailand?
Answer : There’s a huge problem with corruption which is deep routed in Thai society, going back to a time before this blogger (me!) was born( more than 30 years now ^__^ ).
Q : Why has it been happening for so long? Why doesn’t someone fix it?
A : This is because Thai people are complicated and our culture is very different from the Western world.
You can learn from the sayings ” Maipenrai ” Which means ” No problem ” and the word ” Kreng Jai ” which has no direct translation in English but means that you have to be aware of every action you make towards others which could cause them to be unhappy. So for example if you do not agree with someone or something you may not tell them because it may cause upset. Because most Thais are relaxed and don’t take things too seriously, it is easy for the Government to make corrupted decisions without the Thai people complaining. This has made corruption a common thing, but one that many people just accept. Only very few Thai people are prepared to stand up to fight against it seriously and these are the people that have recently been protesting.
Q : What do protesters want?
A : They want to reform the system to eliminate corruption by changing the old law ; focusing on mainly 2 rules: 1. The corruption case will not have an expiry date. That means if you get in trouble for corruption and decide to escape the penalty by moving to another country for a few years, when you come back to Thailand you will still have to face the consequences of your actions.
2. To give a jail sentence to politicians who buy a vote from their voters. This always happens in rural areas.
These changes would have a negative effect on a lot of bad politicians and therefore they won’t pass these laws in parliament. Many Thai people do not agree with this and this is one of the main reasons why people are protesting. It is unlikely that this corruption would occur in a more developed country in the Western world. You might not understand why Thai people still elect a lot of corrupted politicians. To understand it, you should come and live here for a while. Then you will see that we are a lot different from you!
Q : So is it dangerous to come to Thailand?
A : Yes and No. Up until now (3 April 2014 ), about 25 Thai people have died from different incidents and more than 700 Thais were injured. Luckily no foreigners have been wounded from the protests to date.
Q : Why have none of the foreigners been injured, when the media has broadcast events where people have used bombs and guns in the protests?
A : We adore and take good care of tourists in Thailand as tourism is the main income in our country (every political party in Thailand agrees with this). The violence is coming from the government and underground organizations which most Thai people believe is supported by this corrupted government. The protesters are being targeted, of which 99% are Thai and only a few tourists join the protest for fun or to get free food from the Thai protesters. If you avoid the protest area which is now narrowed to just Lumpini park , Phanfar and Cheangwatana ( Not tourist spots) then everything will be alright.
Q : Any suggestions on safe places to visit?
A : If you just use Bangkok as a transit point to go out to other beautiful places such as Phuket , Krabi , Koh Lipe , Chaingmai , Koh Tao , Ayuttaya , Sukhothai , etc. You are very safe.
Q : Is there any chance I may get hurt?
A : Yes , if you join the protest as a foreign reporter, however the protestors have been following Mahatma Gandhi’s way ” nonviolent civil disobedience “. They have protested peacefully for more than 3 months without using any violence. This is nothing like the red shirt party which burnt down many places in Bangkok in May 2010. There is a possibility that the red shirt will rise again on 5 April 2014. But this time the number of red shirt party would be less than a half as they know that Mr. Taksin Chinnawat has betrayed them.
Conclusion : You can travel in Thailand safely but try to avoid the protest areas which are limited spots in Bangkok and make sure you check the news about the red shirt party. It would be safe if there is not a red shirt movement. If you travel away from Bangkok to other provinces then you will be very safe. You can enjoy an uncrowded tourist spot which are normally are full of tourists. Enjoy the beautiful beaches, nice local smiles, eat delicious foods and experience the best prices in the world for pretty much everything here!!!