Up To You, Up to Me
Dear Stick and fellow Readers,
How things are changing at a rapid place in the land of said smiles… New rules, and regulations being announced in quick succession, fast-tracked in the major tourist areas where foreigners tend to settle for longer term stays, Pattaya and Phuket.
From a spend to stay ratio, I would expect that those who stay for example 2 weeks in Thailand would spend more on shopping / dining, and they are out of the country on time and so goes the theory.
I can see that it's not an issue to get a visa for a single entry from your own country of origin so that's ok for 60+ day stay. Like many, I have been thinking of one day being a long-termer in the country and getting more bang from my bucks compared to the West. Now those plans have been "punctured" and being deflated by the day. So, like so many now, I am racking my brains for alternatives (not only Asia). I am having thoughts of cutting off all my tourist spend in the country now that they have shagged my future plans.
Who wants to get on a flight for 12 – 16 hours every 3 months to return to their homeland to get a new visa so they can comply with the new restrictions? I know I don't! The days of multiple entry visas which allow you to see out a year are gone. Some say that it's nothing new but I feel like it's different this time.
The attitude of Thais that have had some part of their education abroad differs from Thais that have never set a foot outside of the country. Thais educated abroad are much more tolerant of Foreigners, and they don't mind the integration. Probably, because they were treated equally when they were on foreign soil and they haven't forgot it. They are also willing to give impartial advice in regards to questions about life in Thailand.
On the other hand, Thais who have never been on a flight abroad are much less willing for integration and less tolerant of Foreigners. Luck has it that most of us interact with the Thais never educated abroad.
Older generation Thais are also looking for less foreign influence and integration – and they are the ones making the rules.
Are rules going to be scaled up and a snowball effect in the mix?
Like a few experienced long-termers commented that they have a gut feeling that isn't good, I also get the same feeling. Looking at less favourable times ahead, this time around it looks like there are teeth.
There has been a lot of talk of the ASEAN 2015 Free Trade Agreement as the next major growth expansion. Will it really live up to the hype? Just like people talk about a pending influx of tourists for high season. High season is no more, apart from possibly December – February. Not like it used to be when high season was longer.
What do you call free trade? When you actually manufacture yourself you know the raw material cost / labour costs so you can come up with the figure of "fair value". When you're trading as a Foreigner the two tier system of foreign price and local price are not the same. Unless you get a local to negotiate on your behalf then they will also want a cut.
I am due for a vacation in December, and for the first time ever I'm not to sure if I will bother visiting. Normally, flight prices increase getting close to year end but right now that are priced lower than 6 months prior. I haven't flew on a full capacity flight to Thailand for over 2 years. Bangkok also dropped out of the top 10 most visited world cities, after holding position #1 for many a year. I wonder why.
Is it due to the price of rental accommodation? Nightlife price increases? Other destinations to see? Or, has Thailand become a mature market? Maybe it is a combination of these factors.
I always see a new 5-star hotel that has been built, or is being built each time I visit. I think the market has become saturated and I wonder how the hotels will fill the extra capacity. The final nail in the coffin could come with a stronger Thai baht.
I walked around a new shopping mall in the Rama 9 area and it was like a ghost town. Another area that looks like over supply.
I might as well add an example of my heydays in Thailand: Long time on many occasions was until the next day, late afternoon, about 2 or 3 hours before the lady was due to start back at the bar. My clothes used to get ironed and folded. My shower experience was encouraging and helpful with an extra pair of hands for those hard to reach places! My toe nails used to clipped while I read the paper. I can't see those days returning unless I meet a nice lady but that's up in the air now, like a helium-filled balloon struggling to stay longer than 60+ days.
I have met some lovely girls from outside the bar scene, girls who worked at shopping mall counters. I was young, and not having the means to follow through… I don't have any regrets though.
I can compare. Let's say before it used to be like being served a lean fillet steak, with extra large chunky chips, with a nice dressing. Now it's more like a thin hamburger, with cold fries and the dressing costs extra!
All the best in navigating the "choppy" waters of South East Asia.