Thailand Weekly Vol. 35
Thailand news and stories delivered free every Sunday 🇹🇭
Wowzers, has it ever been busy these days. If you didn’t know, Chris and I are putting out a video every single day for the next 25 days all about the best things to do here in Bangkok. Although it’s been super fun to finally see this series come to life, it definitely puts the ‘Working’ in ‘Retired Working For You’ haha! If you could do me a huge favour by checking out the first video here and showing it some love, it’d be much appreciated. Maybe leave a comment saying that you came from Thailand Weekly. Let’s gamify it a little bit and have some fun! Anyways, hope you all have a fantastic week ahead no matter where you are in the world. Cheers! 🇹🇭
Tourists Flood Thailand, Overwhelm BKK Airport
Suvarnabhumi Airport and the immigration officials that work there are having a tough time handling the growing number of arrivals since the Kingdom fully opened this past summer. Photos of extremely long lines at immigration recently made their rounds in the Thai media circuit with 76 flights arriving in a four hour window this past Sunday. It was reported that an average of three to four thousand people per hour made their way through immigration that day which is by far the busiest that BKK has been since the start of the pandemic. To ensure that the line moved at a steady pace, immigration officers spent a maximum of 45 seconds checking passenger information at booths. Suvarnabhumi can handle up to 6500 arrivals per hour without security being compromised, and with 2.2 million people arriving there in October, the airport is quickly approaching that limit as high-season nears.
Man, I feel bad for both visitors and immigration officials that now have to deal with crazy crowds at airports across the country. The last thing people feel like doing after a 20-hour flight is to wait in line for another two hours just to get their passports stamped. Having said that, with immigration booths fully staffed and officials only spending 45 seconds per person, it’s hard to ask more of them. The days of 10-minute check-ins and non-existent security lines are long gone and it’s only getting busier and busier by the day. Thailand is back in business to say the least.
Thailand To Experience Total Lunar Eclipse During Loy Krathong
With Thailand’s Loy Krathong Festival (also known as the lantern festival) just a few days away, the Kingdom’s National Astronomical Research Institute says that it will be extra special with a total lunar eclipse taking place the same day as festivities – this Tuesday November 8th. Lunar eclipses occur when the moon, Earth and sun are aligned and the moon passes into Earth’s shadow. Total lunar eclipses are also known as blood moons because of the dramatic colouring caused by Earth’s atmosphere, which scatters light from the sun and flaunts it on the face of the moon. In Thailand, people will be treated to the full show between 5:44 PM and 6:41 PM local time. All they’ll need to do is hope for a clear sky and simply look up. The phenomenon last occurred in 2004 and the next one will take place in 2025.
This should be an EPIC show to witness pending clear skies here in Bangkok. I’m still not sure where I’ll celebrate (either One Ang Canal or Asiatique), but it’ll be awesome either way. If you happen to be in-country this Tuesday, I definitely recommend getting out and taking part in festivities. Last year was my first time, and it was such a cool experience. Here’s a list of locations worth visiting on Tuesday if you’re in Bangkok.
Thailand Travel Tip
With Thailand medical tourism popping off and continuing to gain traction as an awesome treatment alternative, one company worth shouting out is Ever Healthcare. They actually helped us make this video on the topic about 2-months ago and are locally grown right here in Bangkok. They’re a super cool group that has figured out a way to simplify the entire process from finding the treatments and treatment centres you’re looking for, all the way to your recovery period and everything in between. Think of them as the ‘AirBnb of Medical Tourism’ with a more personal touch. Whether you’re looking for basic treatments like dental work or complex surgeries like knee replacements, they do an awesome job in helping you find the right places and right people to get the job done. As I’ve written about before, Thailand is an amazing option to explore if you’re concerned about either pricing or timeline in your home country.
To help illustrate this, back in Canada, there’s universal healthcare where everyone is covered. This is amazing, but the negative side is that people often have to wait many months (or even years) to get surgeries and treatments. Knee replacements, hip replacements, cataract surgeries, etc. are prime examples that take forever to get done back home. If you’re in the US, the whole pricing component and specific insurance plans obviously play a massive factor in what procedures most people can and can’t get. Point is, Thailand is a great alternative if you want high-quality medical work done quickly and affordably. I still talk to people ALL the time that are shocked to hear this, but it’s the truth. If you’re interested in exploring further, then check out Ever’s website and chat with one of their care concierges if you have any additional questions. Who knows, maybe going overseas is the unexpected solution you’ve been looking for.
Grab Delivery Drivers Protest New Rule Changes
Hundreds of Grab delivery drivers across Bangkok assembled in front of Central World this past Thursday protesting rule changes to the popular Grab app. Unhappy with the fact that zoning is being introduced (drivers can only operate in a dedicated area) and that the minimum order has gone up (they must take two delivery orders at the same time), drivers say that these changes will negatively affect their earnings and also restricts their right to earn a living wage on the platform.
Delivery apps have taken over Bangkok in the past few years and have resulted in significant shifts in the way that restaurants and those that they serve operate around the country.
One thing I’ve never fully understood is how these drivers make a living. If you’ve used Grab, Foodpanda, Lineman, etc. before, you’d know that delivery fees are next to nothing (as low as 10 baht in some some cases). I’m not sure what their base fee per delivery looks like? Perhaps they also earn a percentage of the order they’re delivering? Either way, when you start to factor in the cost of gas, motorbike repairs, etc., it seems like a tough way to make a living. I totally understand why they’re upset with the upcoming changes to the platform and would be totally fine to pay more in delivery fees or some sort of a mandatory service charge so that the App didn’t need to implement further restrictions to maintain margins.
Only In Thailand 🇹🇭
Bangkok is experiencing a Pokémon takeover baby! This past week, skytrains on the Sukhumvit line (light green) and Silom line (dark green) got a makeover to promote the launch of two new Pokémon games coming to Nintendo Switch later this month. You know, I get that this is all one big marketing play, but I love the fact that the BTS is such a vibrant way to get around the city. I was at Siam station the other day and on top of being super clean, well-managed, and reliable, I think it’s awesome that there’s always such vibrant ads wherever you look. It adds a playful nature to the transport system which is a nice change from the doomy and gloomy subway system that runs in my home city of Toronto. Some people don’t like being hit with marketing material everywhere, which I totally get, but definitely feel that the BTS does a pretty good job of it here in Bangkok. I get a kick out of the playful nature of it all.