Another year in Thailand…

Last time I wrote, we were in lockdown. Thailand has managed to control the spread of the virus with strict measures; a combination of government action, social responsibility and community solidarity. It is a striking difference from our more individualistic culture where it is all about our rights, our needs, our wants, what we deserve… People are kind and thoughtful here on the whole, except when you put them behind a wheel! There is a strong sense of community in Phuket and with the impact of the loss of tourism, there has been a community effort to help those who are struggling to even find food to eat.

However, as I write this, cases are once again going up (albeit in smallish numbers compared to other countries) created by a small influx of migrants which have entered the country illegally and also spread by illegal gambling dens. As of January 3rd, we have 294 new cases around the country.

The impact Covid has had on tourism can be seen on the islands. Although Bangkok still remains relatively busy, there are shops closed and emptier streets in some areas. Phuket has been hit very hard and some areas remain deserted, without tourists there is no life here. Last year, foreign tourist nearly hit 40 million but now 93% of customers are Thai. Businesses and hotels have shut down, some forever. Last I read, about 3 months ago, 70% of businesses in Phuket had closed. This video of the busiest beach in Phuket really highlights the current situation in Phuket:

We feel very fortunate to be here during this period! We feel safe, we have freedom within Thailand and great healthcare. The downside is that we are cut off from family and friends abroad and that has not been easy. We hope that we can travel and reconnect with friends and family this coming Summer. In the meantime, we amuse ourselves here. Wildlife is coming back as there are not many people about.

Must not forget the snake hiding in the shoes! Harmless radiated rat snake – non venomous.

We could not go out of Thailand in Summer so we went to Kho Samui for a few days. Samui is a lovely small island, I say small but it is the second largest island in Thailand. It has some beautiful waterfalls which are good for swimming and as in the rest of the country, places are semi deserted.

The rest of the time was spent pottering about in Phuket and Bangkok.

Bangkok in July is hot and sticky with bits of rain in between. Shopping and eating is the main thing to keep you occupied. Goldie (yes, Goldie, who remembers him!) lives in Phuket, of all places and has opened an art gallery in Bangkok – Aurum Gallery is a contemporary, urban and street art gallery.

The only street food stall in the world with 1 Michelin star! She is 74 years old.
Chef Jay Fai wears a wool cap and safety goggles to ward off the heat from the charcoal fires in the alley where she cooks all of the restaurant’s meals. She is such a perfectionist that she doesn’t let anyone on her staff do the cooking.
Mall in Bangkok, quite random…
Vhils is the tag name of Portuguese graffiti and street artist Alexandre Manuel Dias Farto. This piece of art is on the wall of the Portuguese Embassy in Bangkok.

After our Bangkok stay, we came back to Phuket.

We have had quite a long monsoon this year as La Nina is also in force!

Phuket views
Bang Tao beach
Geoff in a giant cup!

We also visited Kho Yao Yay, a small island not far from Phuket. Geoff enjoyed having his own pool party and I did my “look, I can walk on water” trick!

And it is Christmas! It is so hard not to be able to see family and friends and Xmas makes us more aware of this. Luckily, our friends from Bangkok came over for a couple of weeks and we had a lovely time connecting with people we are close to. Hooray for friends!!

We also went to Bangkok as they go overboard with Xmas, always fun to see all the decorations and lights around the city.

Also saw more graffiti, love it!
Lights festival, lots of light installations around old Bangkok
Alex Face

Covid has had and continues to have such an impact on our community here in Phuket. Places have been deserted and look apocalyptic and people are struggling to feed themselves. We feel so lucky and so grateful to be here, in this lovely house on a beautiful island. The animals are returning, the beaches are clean, the water is clear… It is hard to say how happy we are when we know how hard this is for some. As usual, it is the poor that suffer the most, the inequalities are more evident during this pandemic. There is a strong sense of community here and of helping each other rather than trying to step on each other.

I got a new tattoo, with the island closed off, prices were slashed to 50% so good time to get inked. Geoff had a traditional one with bamboo, the guy was so fast, amazing to watch.

This is what Bangkok looks like from 76 floors up! The Mahanakhon Skywalk is a rather impressive building. It looks like a block of jenga with bits missing. On the top floor there is a glass platform, you can walk on it and look down at Bangkok. A little scary at first but I trust the engineers and the builders did a proper job… The lift is incredibly fast, it takes 50 seconds to reach the 74th floor. All in all, the tower is 314 metres, the tallest in Bangkok. You can see the glass platform in the picture below.

On our return, we went back to this amazing viewpoint; Samet Nangshe in Phang Nga Bay. The light was different from our previous visit and it was rather beautiful, you can’t beat nature!

It is one of the most beautiful views, so serene and tranquil….

Panorama view

And now, for some more wildlife in our garden…

This is a very long blog but I hope you enjoy looking at the photos. I have always loved taking pictures and it is my way of recording experiences – always a pleasure to look back. I started these blogs for the kids so that they would have a record of their life abroad.

Diving trip to Racha Yay. Beautiful clear water and some interesting fish, many puffer fish and a huge moray eel. Photos aren’t great but it is the best we could get from our dive master. This dive is on a ship wreck so plenty of fish! I have the blue hat on and Geoff is in most of the photos too.

And we are nearly at an end of 2020! Another year…. All was quiet in Thailand for the past 7 months and now we are in the midst of another Covid wave. Let’s hope this time next year, we have managed to make a dent on this virus.

New Year on the beach and a learn to sail course which turned out to be one of the most boring things I have done!

Happy New Year dear friends and family. Let’s hope we can be reunited this year I miss you all.

One Response to “Another year in Thailand…”

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