Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Decision - Amazing Bangkok Trip #1

I guess most of you are aware of the situation in Thailand, specifically Bangkok because that's where most of the protests are going on. It started with protests from people with different political grounds which then followed by the declaration of Martial Law by the Royal Thai Army. Just a day before we were leaving for Bangkok on the 23rd, the army announced Coup D'etat to take political control of the country. In simple words, the army is now in charge of the country instead of the elected caretaker government. 

I have to agreed that the news sound frightening for people who have no experience in traveling, let alone traveling in countries with unstable political situation.

However, Christy, Jacqueline and I had our graduation trip planned long before our final exams so we did a lot of research and news reading to make sure things were safe before we hopped on the flight to Bangkok. We felt that the situation was still far from dangerous for us to cancel our trip hence we decided to continue with it. 

We were at Bangkok for 8 days. Long enough to witness the actual situation in Bangkok. On 24th May we bumped into a large swarm of reporters at Victory Monument to capture the protest scene but of course we did not stay and went back to the hostel immediately. After all, we are not Thai and have no business with other country's political affairs.

So should tourists still travel to Bangkok, Thailand after the military coup? I would say yes for now unless things are going awry which no one can ever predict. Of course, judgements and decisions have to be made solely on your own risk.

Also here are a few things to be made clear especially for people who are still contemplating going to Bangkok.

1. The Thai army are merely there to stop protests from happening. There are no explosions, shootings or firing going on definitely. Those violent attacks are happening mostly at Southern Thailand provinces (Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat) ignited by ethnic separatist campaign since 2004 which is a whole different situation. So do not hastily jump into conclusion that bombings are happening everywhere in Thailand. In fact, life is near normal at Bangkok with many tourists flocking in especially China and Europe tourists.

P/S: If you are seeing selfie/photos with the army online and want to try it out, here are some tips to take a photo with the Royal Thai Army: 

1. Show some respect by greeting them preferably in Thai like Sawadeeka/Sawadeekap (the former to be used by girls and the latter by guys).
2. Do it quickly.
3. End with Kop Khun Ka/Kop Khun Krap which means thank you.
4. Run from the scene as the other tourists will soon follow suit and start asking you to take pictures for them which is going to take forever. 

2. Still, protests are protests. Do not get involved with one. The emotions are high for the protestors and there's no guarantee that you won't get hurt being a tourist. Get a data plan in Thailand and check the online news frequently to stay away from protest sites. Follow @RichardBarrow on Twitter as well as @BangkokPost on Facebook. The common protests sites are the Ratchaprasong and Victory Monument area. Currently, anti-coup rallies are getting more frequent for the past few days so keep yourself updated at times.

I got this data plan for only 310 baht which is around RM31. The price was reasonable enough for 1 week unlimited usage of internet. 

I had been using the Internet to view google map and had no trouble in getting anywhere. The line was very stable throughout the week. You can purchase it at Don Mueang International Airport near the escalator and toilet area. The sales assistants are able to speak English and they will help you insert the Thai sim card into your smartphone.

This was where we bought out data plan and Thai sim card! 

3. Curfew is currently from 12am to 4am. People are not allowed on the streets during the curfew or else fine will be imposed. BTS stations are operated until 9pm or 11pm depending on the situation. Tourists are allowed to travel during the curfew to catch the flights but make sure to bring your passport and travel documents along. 

Lastly, Malaysians who require consular assistance can contact the embassy at 02 629 6800 (office hr) or +6687 028 4659. Important contact if anything happens or you can head over to the Malaysian Embassy during office hours.

Malaysian Embassy Address
33-35, South Sathorn Road,
Sathorn Road,
10120, Bangkok.

On the whole I just want to say that the three of us had an awesome Bangkok trip! It was my first time attempting a backpacking trip and it was definitely much more fun and memorable than joining group tours. Bangkok is an exciting place to travel and I'm touched by the polite and friendly people we met during the trip. Will continue to blog about Bangkok very soon!

Safe travels for those who are heading to Bangkok soon!


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