Thailand Weekly Vol. 22
Thailand news and stories delivered free every Sunday 🇹🇭
Good morning or good evening depending on where in the world you may be. An interesting week here in the world of Thailand news. Some confusing movements in the weed space, some exciting news in the transportation world, and an ‘Only in Thailand’ story that caught me by surprise. I also share a really fun day trip recommendation here in the big city of Bangkok. More on each of these below!
The Messy World Of Cannabis Decriminalization
Thailand’s public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul is holding firm on the decision made last month to decriminalize cannabis despite mounting pressure for the move the be retracted. More than 850 doctors around the country want to see this decision reversed unless clear measures are put in place to prevent youth from abusing the substance. Decriminalization has proven to be a bit of a roller coaster thus far with it first being legal with no restrictions, then being banned for government and military officials, followed by a statement saying that the decriminalization was never meant to encourage recreational use, and now, recent calls to ban marijuana cigarettes, otherwise known as joints. If it wasn’t already confusing enough, the Ministry of Public Health recently submitted a proposal to the Royal Thai Police asking them to take legal action against those that fail to obtain the proper permits relating to the use of cannabis. This request was then retracted as it was rife with inconsistencies and left the police chiefs around the country confused as to how they should or shouldn’t be enforcing this new decriminalization act.
Mr. Anutin’s latest statement on the matter is that “we cannot step back and make cannabis an illegal drug again. The plant is useful as a form of medical treatment and will benefit the economy. We have come too far to turn back now.”
Much of the backlash against the decriminalization comes from reports of both younger and older Thais checking themselves into the hospital after using the substance.
New Luxury Rail Car In The Works
Engineers at a Bangkok Technology Institute are working on a luxury 25-seat rail car prototype that should be in service with the State Railway of Thailand by the end of 2023. The project is backed by 32 million baht (USD $880K) in funding, and is part of the Transport Ministry’s mission to include homegrown hardware into Thailand’s transit network.
The railway car will have eight ‘super luxury’ seats that are equivalent to what you would experience flying first class, and 17 ‘luxury’ seats which are similar to flying business class. The carriage will also be tricked out with all of the bells and whistles that you’d expect from a high-end flying experience. Almost half of the materials used in the prototype are locally sourced, which makes it 30% cheaper than an imported one.
Thailand Travel Tip
This week’s Thailand Travel Tip isn’t a specific service, restaurant, etc. we’re recommending, but instead a super fun day-trip you should consider next time you’re in Bangkok. This past weekend, I spent a half-day exploring the city’s ‘Green Lung’, which is officially named Bang Krachao. Just a 15-minute taxi ride south of Sukhumvit Road in Central Bangkok, followed by 10 baht longtail boat trip that takes no longer than 3-minutes, it’s a super cool nature area that makes you feel like you’re on an Island forgotten by time. With rustic wooden houses, jungle areas, thousands of coconut trees, temples, and all sorts of funky little restaurants and cafés, it’s hard to believe that you’re still in a city of more than 10 million people. It feels more like rural Thailand. Most people think Lumphini Park or Benjakitti Park are the best green spaces, but this place is on a totally different level given that it’s 6KM from top to bottom of pure nature. Just get a cab to Wat Khlong Toei Tok Pier, pay 10 baht (USD $0.28) for the short longtail ride, and then rent a bicycle on arrival (80 baht per day) from the local Thai business that’s stationed themselves directly at the arrival pier. I think they’re called M-BIKE? Anyways, it’s such a fun area to cycle around and explore for an afternoon. I highly recommend it next time you’re in town.
130 Tonnes Of Imported Garbage Headed Back To Australia
Many foreigners living or travelling through Thailand are sad, frustrated and shocked when they see locals dumping garbage on the side of the road, but this past week there was a far larger culprit when it came to illegal dumping. The Department of Customs and the Department of Pollution Control caught an Australian firm that shipped 130 tonnes of illegal waste to the Kingdom from Australia. Authorities stopped and searched through five shipping containers that were supposed to be filled with paper waste for re-processing, but were instead met with raw waste material, a third of which was household garbage (food packaging, used masks, medicine packaging, etc.).
The Department of Pollution Control Chief says that “we will ask the company to send the shipment back to Australia and the Department of Customs will take legal action against the company. The department will also work with the Department of Foreign Trade to issue a warning letter to the company, making it clear the country has no policy to accept any household waste.”
Only In Thailand 🇹🇭
Elderly influencers? Thai grandmothers posting on Tik Tok? In what sounds like a silly idea at the start, a government agency has started a program to help Thailand’s older citizens use the internet to turn their passions into profit. The scheme is specifically aimed at older people that have unique skills worth sharing with a younger demographic. For example, farmers may have knowledge about how to grow food, but if that information isn’t on social media, it’s pretty much inaccessible to anyone under 30. The program has opened up to 50 people to start, and teaches technical skills like shooting, editing, and publishing videos. This is one of those things that I thought was silly when reading the headline, but after reading further, I actually think is a unique concept. One man from Central Thailand is an early success story. He was one of the first people to enrol in the program and is now sharing videos about tree planting on Facebook. The videos have over 8000 views a few months in. I hope they succeed with it! Only in Thailand 🇹🇭