Thailand Weekly Vol. 26

Thailand news and stories delivered free every Sunday 🇹🇭

G’day Thailand Weekly readers. Crazy to believe it’s the end of August already. My guess is that most of you live in North America and Europe which means that fall is just around the corner. In Thailand it means that we’re about 60-days away from entering the best time of the entire year to be here. Cooler temperatures in Bangkok, less rain in the South, and extremely crisp air in the North. I can’t wait for November to hit because it means 3-4 months of perfection! You gonna be here during that period?

Minimum Wage Increase Approved

Frozen since January 2020, Thailand has just approved a minimum wage increase that will take effect starting October 1st. The move is aimed at helping low-income workers cope with rising costs on basic goods due to inflation, and will see wages increase by an average of 5% depending on the province and its economic snapshot. Actual minimum wage rates will range from 328 baht (USD $9.06) per day to 354 baht (USD $9.78) per day. Although the increase still needs to be approved by the Thai cabinet this week, a group of representatives from the government, private sector, employers, and labour unions all agreed on the 5% jump based on the 5.5% to 6.5% inflation forecast over the balance of the year.

Our Take

Man, would it ever be tough earning less than $10 per day. It’s stories like these that definitely put everything into perspective for me and act as a good reminder to always be appreciative, patient, and generous. Especially here in Thailand. When I go to my local market for lunch and spend 150 baht (USD $4) between a few bags bags of fruit, a main meal, and a drink, it feels extremely cheap. It’s crazy that a local-style lunch at a market eats up almost half of what minimum-wage earners take home in an entire day. Forgot about any of the extra-curriculars like FoodPanda, a few drinks, taking taxis, etc. I’m pretty good at recognizing this for the most part, but there’s definitely times where I disassociate the low cost of living to the low wages that millions of Thai people have to work through. Every little bit helps, and it’s great to see that low-income workers across the country are getting a slight pay increase, but it’s hard to imagine that this bump will make any sort of significant difference. That’s just a 17 baht increase on average. Having said that, I’ve come to learn that Thai people are some of the most creative and resourceful people I’ve ever met, so I’m sure that the extra funds will be stretched out as much as possible, but it can’t be easy.

Snake Encounters Reported Every 15 Minutes In Bangkok

Encounters with snakes in Thailand’s biggest city are much more frequent than what most people likely would have guessed. The ‘199’ emergency hotline reported that they get snake related calls every 15-minutes and directly handle upwards of 60,000 snake removals every year. These stats were released after a Din Daeng resident posted a photo of a sizeable Boa Constrictor hanging from a tree located about 20 minutes north of Sukhumvit Road, which prompted all sorts of discussion on social media. The hotline mentioned that not only do they have a 90% success rate in capturing snakes when these types of calls come in, but that they also deal with an additional 100 calls per day for other animals such as water monitors, lizards, wasps, etc. Although no official survey of the snake population has been conducted in the Capital, it’s estimated that there are likely 1000 snakes in each district, which would mean that there’s approximately 50,000 city-wide. The reason that so many snakes call Bangkok home is because they have no natural predators here, but do have access to all sorts of prey such as dogs, cats, rats, and chickens.

Our Take

Parts of this story definitely took me by surprise. I knew that Bangkok had tens of thousands of snakes across its 50 districts, but I had no idea that the emergency hotline got snake-related calls every 15-minutes. That’s a wild stat if you really think about it. I’ve only ever seen them when I was out ‘herping’ with Chris, Dana, and a few of Dana’s pals last year. We actually made a full-on video about that experience that I’ve linked here. Thankfully, I haven’t had any unplanned encounters in parks, walkways, gardens, buildings, etc. That’s probably because I live in a condo and spend most of my time in a concrete-heavy part of this city, but I bet if I moved out towards the suburbs into a townhouse or low-rise unit, I’d have a few run-ins and would be calling the hotline myself. 60,000 removals a year in Bangkok-alone. That’s absolutely wild.

Thailand Travel Tip

Last week, I gave you the full breakdown of the Thailand hotel collection we’re piecing together, the backstory of how it came to be, and why we started it. If you missed it, just click here and then scroll down to last week’s ‘Thailand Travel Tip where you can get the full scoop. Anyways, as part of this all, I went ahead recommended an awesome property down in Phuket called X10 Panwa Beach which MANY of you seemed to appreciate. Not only was it one of the most clicked links I’ve ever left as part of this newsletter, but I also had a few people reach out directly and say thanks for the recommendation + discount code. So, given the good feedback, I figured that this week I’d keep the ball rolling and shine some light on another cool hotel that deserves some love, The Beach Samui. Located beachside in the charming fishing village of Thong Krut in Samui’s sleepy south, this is one of those spots that’ll make you feel like you’e in a completely different era. Offering up award-winning suites and epic views, it’s the ideal place to stay at if you’re looking for a ‘vacation from your vacation’ while on the Island. To paint the picture for you here, let’s say you have 12 days booked in Chaweng. Instead of doing a straight shot in that single area, I’d recommend taking 2 or 3 nights to break up your trip and head south to enjoy all that Thong Krut, Taling Nam, and Na Mueang have to offer. It’s a beautiful part of the Island that many people don’t ever get to truly explore, and The Beach is the perfect place to stay when down there. It really is a ‘vacation from your vacation’. Just like I mentioned last week for X10, if you are interested in booking, enter the code ‘RW4U’ to get 10% off your stay. Easy as pie.

Bangkok Governor Launches ‘Open Bangkok’ Initiative

Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt recently announced the ‘Open Bangkok’ initiative which will see all units of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) upload and share readable reports on the progress of their work, including budget decisions and where money is being spent. The idea is to provide full transparency to residents while also holding the administration accountable. This entire initiative is meant to make Bangkok a more liveable city for everyone under the idea of Transparency, Accountability, and Participation.

“Transparency comes when we open the data. It is also a way to fight corruption.” says Sittipunt.

Our Take

I don’t exactly have much insight to add here other than that this seems like a great idea when it comes to building trust and driving accountability. If I understand correctly, it feels like this initiative is a scaled up version of the very basic reports that typically get published on government websites for the public to dissect. It sounds like each department of the city will need to submit regular reports that allow residents to track progress on different projects, funds allocation, etc. If you’re someone that’s looking to deepen ties with the people you represent, hold your team accountable, and establish a continuous feedback loop, then this seems like a smart play.

Only In Thailand 🇹🇭

One Thai couple got extremely lucky this past week when they found a rare pearlworth over 1 million baht (USD $27.5K) inside the seafood they were about to eat at a restaurant in Northern Thailand’s Phayao Province. Khun Sittidate and his girlfriend Khun Patjariya were celebrating a birthday and enjoying Babylon snails when one of them bit something oddly hard. They picked out a round orange stone and joked that they may be millionaires as it looked exactly like a Melo Pearl. Well, they sent it into a lab in Chiang Mai and were shocked to learn that it was in fact real and worth a decent chunk of change. They’re looking to sell the rare gem and use the funds to pay off family debt. Talk about a lucky score!

Press Worthy 🔥