After the sad death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Thailand, the famously monarchist country has gone into a period of mourning, which has prompted many Western tourists to complain that their holidays have been ruined.
This has meant that nightlife has been seriously curtailed for at least a month following the orders of the Thai Prime Minister, the infamous full moon parties have been effectively shut down and foreign travellers have been issued with government safety warnings to wear respectful, sombre clothing in public and show respect to the feelings and sensitivities to the Thai people during this time.
And what is the response from tourists? They cry because they can’t party all night or visit a red light district and claim their holiday has been ruined.
For crying out loud.
Are tourists so ignorant that they think their ‘right’ to have a good time on holiday takes precedent over national tragedies or events?
The Thai people are extreme monarchists and revere the royal family almost as god like figures. Their lese majeste laws are among the strictest in the world because of this, and the death of their king is something that is going to affect the Thai people deeply.
Yet all some tourists can think about is that their holiday is ruined and how dare the Thai people stop them from drinking and having a good time?
This attitude is seriously disgusting. In part this is probably the Thai governments fault for courting package tourists over travellers in recent years, this is the caliber of people you get I suppose.
To be fair I know this attitude is not shown by every traveller or holidaymaker to Thailand, and that many will show the respect that is warranted in this situation, but the fact that there are some – even if it is a minority – is disappointing.
Thailand is far more than it’s bars, full moon parties and sordid nightlife, it has a deep, rich culture, a society with fascinating layers of complexity and a genuinely warm and amazing people.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand itself has issued advice for tourists during this mourning period, saying that there is no need to cancel or change plans to visit the country. That is very true. The truth is that although some bars may close early (or altogether for a few nights), the volume may be turned down on the music for a while and a few shops may close up for a couple of days, things will gradually return to normal and travellers on the whole will not be affected, especially those visiting long term. Many tourist attractions will remain open, the traditional and cultural events will largely remain unaffected with perhaps slight changes for appropriateness or dedications to the late king, and all transport and other infrastructure will be operating as normal. Despite reports to the contrary, it isn’t even required of visitors to wear the white or black T Shirts or clothing many Thais will be wearing as a mark of respect and mourning, but it will be appreciated if sombre and respectful clothing are worn.
Things are carrying on as normal to an extent, but the country is in mourning and are just asking for a little bit of understanding.
The only people who will be affected in the short term seem to be those who come over on a week long package holiday and think Thailand is only about drinking and red light districts and nothing else. Frankly I don’t really care about their opinion anyway.
For the majority of other travellers heading to Thailand, I’m sure you will show the respect and consideration that a country in mourning deserves, and take the opportunity to witness a unique part of Thai culture and a unique moment in Thailand’s history during your time there. Take the time to witness how truly remarkable the Thai people are and how united they can be, even if it is in grief. Maybe even take the time to learn a little about the king and the royal family they revere so much. You will get just as much out of your time there, if not more.
My thoughts go out to all my Thai friends and all the Thai people during this time of mourning. And for those who think all tourists are like those in the news reports, I am sure that the backpackers and travellers who do show respect and travel through Thailand to see how amazing and wonderful a country it really is will absolutely outnumber those package tour idiots who would probably be better off on the TV set of ‘Benidorm’ anyway.
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