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JUST HOW SHOULD EXPATS AND TOURISTS BEHAVE DURING THE MOURNING PERIOD?

By Walter Smith

Deputy Prime Minister Thanasak Patimapragorn released a statement on Thursday 20th October 2016 in which he said that Thailand still welcomes tourists to the Kingdom especially the health and culture sectors and he proposed that black ribbon pins would be available at airports to assist tourists in joining in with the rest of the country in mourning.The official statement from the government states that tourism will continue as usual although the authorities have asked for cooperation from business operators to refrain from entertainment activities like dancing and concerts for at least the first 30 days.

The key message that is relayed on official news sites, is that tourists and expats should be prepared to be flexible, not just for the first 30 days but in the coming months. Many planned events and concerts have either been postponed or cancelled, so if you have intended to attend a function it would be wise to check first if it is in fact still taking place before you set off on your journey.Normal businesses such as banks, transport, hospitals and shopping malls are still operating as usual, but some tourist venues are closed and various activities have been canceled.

For those expats who live in the kingdom and for any tourists visiting Thailand, here are a few tips that you should follow.

Many Thais will be wearing black or white during the mourning period, although it is not compulsory for non-Thais it is advisable to wear somber clothing in public. Swimwear is still allowed on the beach, but not away from there and you should make sure you are dressing appropriately at all times. Together with dressing appropriately, it is advisable not to enter into any debate on politics or the Royal Family at this present time. Thailand's lese majeste laws should be observed at all times, even more so at the current time. So be careful what you post on your facebook page and comment flippantly in conversation.

In respects to alcohol this is very much down to personal control, it should be said a little more moderation should be shown at this time, it certainly would not be acceptable to be drunk in public. If you have to have a skin-full then stay at home.

There is a little confusion over bars and sales, some owners prefer not to sell alcohol at this time whilst others are governed by local officials and rules. If a bar remains open don't expect a party atmosphere or loud music, and be prepared that the opening hours may be curtailed.

Here in Pattaya at time of going to press the Loy Kratong festival, Pattaya International Ladies Melbourne Cup Day,The International Fireworks festival and New Year celebrations have all been cancelled and Thailand's whole domestic football fixtures have been suspended until further notice.

You can show and offer your sympathy to Thai people, this would not be disrespectful and would definitely be a positive thing to do . Also you should certainly be aware that if you are not behaving in an appropriate manner people may be offended and therefore it is best to act responsibly..

Recently Lt. General Sansern commented on the above and was quoted as saying, “Don't try to provoke any conflict at the moment and don't get the monarchy involved in any conflict. Now is the time for all of us to unite.”

A list has been circulating for all expats and tourists to follow at the moment:

  • Dress appropriately at all times

  • Avoid gaudy or bright colours during the official mourning period

  • If possible wear black or white or somber clothing

  • Be flexible in your outlook with regards to cancellations and disruptions

  • Be respectful and mindful of the current situation at all times

  • Keep a low profile when in public

  • Do not contribute to loud or overt celebrations

  • Consider your alcohol consumption

  • Follow official information from authorities

It should be remembered that after all we are all just guests in this wonderful Kingdom, at a time like this we need to be mindful of other people’s feelings .

Around Pattaya you will see many companies now placing shrines outside their buildings and if you are visiting Bangkok you may wish to view the work of the art students at Silpakorn University who have made their own particularly charming tribute with their portraits.