Has 2020 Really Been An Annus Horribilis?
Much has been reported on a 24/7 365 basis on the dreaded virus, and its effect around the world, but I wanted to offer a few musings on why, in my typically stoical and light-hearted opinion, why life in Thailand has been decent this year.
Here’s my 7 reasons why it hasn’t been that bad.
To begin with, let’s get the worst part out the way first.
- Khun Anutin’s “dirty farang” jibe didn’t do any of us any favours whatsoever.
There were occasions during the days and weeks that followed his flippant remark, whereby being a foreigner led to many snide remarks from Thai citizens that made life a tad awkward at times. A classic example was when in a Robinson’s department store, the cashier refused to take cash from me, so I had to discretely hand the money over to the wife, who passed the same 1000 baht note to the cashier.
As time went on, locals were more accepting of the presence of aliens, and in fact, life became a lot more pleasurable than it had been for years.
This was probably due to the reduced number of farang faces, I got recognised more than ever before, leading to quite complementary comments from the locals. My understanding of Thai is far superior to my speaking of the language, and I was able to hear locals say “It’s that customer of Noi, she cuts his hair” and “He lives near Khun Ched, been here a long time” and this led to parking privileges, and discounts in Ma & Pa type shops. I guess in the pre pandemic days, we all looked the same and the locals didn’t take much notice of individuals.
We got through this faux pas from the Health Minister, so from this point on it was onwards and upwards!
Think about the things that we’ve been spared over the past year.
- The 7 Deadly Days
As opposed to the other 358 deadly days, the daily reporting of road fatalities in the form of football results by the media. “Monday… Bangkok 12 Chiang Mai 4. Bangkok led the day after 12 bikers, minus their helmets, slammed into the back of parked trucks. Meanwhile, Chiang Mai relied on corners for speeding vehicles to fly off the road into the adjacent fields…”
It’s a bizarre way to report deaths, and maybe somethings get lost in translation, but I find the league table with like-for-like comparisons morbidly weird.
I haven’t missed them one bit, but doubt they’ll make a return in 2021.
- Buses with a mind of their own.
This is kind of an addendum to the 7 Deadly Days, but it happens throughout the year.
Almost on a daily basis during the peak tourist season, there’ll be a photo of an upside down bus, lying in a roadside ditch. Complete with bald tyres, rusting chassis, and locals pointing at it as if to say “look, another one”.
There’s usually a commentary informing us that “The bus suddenly left the road and flipped over into the ditch…” Readers can be forgiven for thinking that the vehicle is one of those Transformer robots from the movie. Robobus: “I’ve had enough of this, wahoooooo!” and over it goes, performing double Salchows and a Death Spin, and gets a cumulative 9.9 score from the mongers with their smartphones.
Drivers recall nothing of the events (probably due to them being asleep at the time of disembarking the road), and if they haven’t been peppered to death by flying amulets, they escape via the ditch to sleep off their hangover and report a few days later to the police as if nothing has happened.
Many tourists live to ride another day due to travel restrictions.
Will 2021 will see the return of the carnage? Let’s hope not.
- Taxi Drivers returning lost property.
Covid appears to have had an effect on the carelessness of taxi passengers. At least once a month we’d read about how a passenger left his or her bag in the back of the cab. The cab driver later finds the bag, opens it to reveal hundreds of thousands of baht or the crown jewels, and promptly returns it to the passenger via a police photoshoot.
The cynic in me thinks that every single one of these instances is a PR stunt by TAT.
For someone who is constantly ripping off tourists & expats, by either not running the meter or going on detour to increase the trip time and income, it seems very odd that they find cash in abundance and return it. Then, with their paltry tip, continue ripping off more passengers.
A very odd sequence of events. I’m sure we’ll see more of these incidents in 2021.
- Misbehaving Monks
What on earth has happened to the saffron mafia? Have they suddenly become true followers of their faith, never to break their code again?
No reports of monks watching porn, hording women’s undies, drinking alcohol, stealing money or bashing a fellow monk with a shovel for gulping down his last drop of whiskey!
Covid appears to have cleaned up the monkhood, or have they simply changed their habits?
- Unruly Crowds
I haven’t missed these at all. Tourists from an exceptionally large, massively populated country not far away from Thailand, who have no respect for queuing systems, hygiene, and noise control.
You can take your queue pushing, spitting, crapping on toilet seats, and communicating with each other at maximum volume and take them back up the Yangtze.
I hope they never return, but no doubt they will.
- 90 Day Reports
Never in a month of Sunday’s would I have previously thought of adding 90 day reports to a list of things that are good!
However, the moving of reporting from CW to Muang Thong Thani has been a godsend.
Online booking means that I don’t have to get up at silly o’clock to join a queue half a KM long and wait for hours in a crowded room. Arrive 15mins before your appointment and BINGO! You’re in and out in 20mins. At least that’s been my experience on the 3 occasions since the move.
It’s also easy to get to, and the fact that it’s in a converted carpark means that there’s a natural breeze, especially at this time of year.
I hope that they get rid of the report altogether, or make the online report app work, or make MT permanent instead of temporary. Let’s wait and see.
That concludes my 7 reasons why 2020 has been that bad, despite the global meltdown.
It’s made me put all things into perspective. Millions of people haven’t been as lucky to be still around, and for that I count my blessings.
Oh, just one more thing…
I sincerely hope that during the next couple of weeks, we’re treated to the annual, rehearsed cheesy song and dance routine by ‘game’ shopping mall workers as they don festive outfits, reindeer antlers and give a hearty rendition of ‘Jingle Bells’ aka ‘Jinger Ben!’
Merry Christmas to one and all!
The author of this article cannot be contacted.