Grapevine: March 12, 2021


Pattaya getting busier
Although international tourism is certainly still in the doldrums, the general impression is that it’s getting a bit less like a ghost town. Weekends are busy and traffic is certainly heavier. Much of it reflects a rise in domestic tourism now that the brakes on alcohol sales are off, but many bars and massage shops – or those that are still open – report a slight increase in farang faces. Although the UK has technically banned citizens from going on vacation, we hear that the actual monitoring and questioning at airports is minimal. That’s being polite.

Digging up roads tiresome
Someone ought to write a PhD thesis on why Pattaya roads are no sooner covered in new concrete than they are dug up again. The worst offenders are surely the corner of Thappraya Road, near Dongtan police station, and the lengthy chaos of Pattaya South Road leading to Sukhumvit. Explanations vary from “they forgot to bury the cables” and “it’s the wrong sort of concrete” to “the mayor doesn’t live in Pattaya” and “rain storms stopped play.” The actual reason may be shoddy workmanship.

Mexican Delights
Now that the Siam Country Club Road is back to normal with no huge roadworks near the Mabprachan end – hopefully not a temporary phenomenon – the Mexican restaurant Taco House is back on the agenda for all. Specializing in TexMex cuisine, it’s not to be missed. Pattaya itself is also lucky to have Mike’s Mexican on Thappraya Road. Not much to choose between them and both do excellent Margaritas. If you like beef and beans chili, Mike’s is a much thicker version than Taco House we notice.

Entertainment licences
Last month, a dozen or so gay bars and clubs in Jomtien Complex were temporarily closed by Chonburi police for not having entertainment licences. We are told they were fined and allowed to open one or two days later. One bar consulted a lawyer who told them entertainment licences are not available in that particular area as it is classed as “residential”. Nobody knows in any case what exactly entertainment is. So you just pay up and carry on as before. As Bernard Trink used to say, “Nuff said!”

Huge drop in Thai Covid
What lay behind the huge drop in reported cases of coronavirus in Thailand last month? Views differ, but the compulsory quarantining of all new airport arrivals must have something to do with it. Voluntary or self-quarantining which, until recently, applied in UK to travellers arriving from all destinations was a mistake. Just because airline passengers are clutching a paper indicating they have recently passed a Covid test doesn’t mean they are clear. Thailand was right to prevent all and sundry just walking out of the airport after their flight.

Toll plaza in business
The Department of Highways is now collecting fees on Motorway 7 on the Pattaya-Maptaphut extension, we hear. Local journeys will cost 30 baht, but the trek to and from Bangkok now sets you back between 130 baht and 305 baht according to how large your vehicle is. Coaches are the biggest. Since the opening of the extension last year, it has been unexpectedly busy in promoting traffic between the two provinces. Drivers have now got used to travelling for free, but a new learning experience is about to begin.

New speed limits
The Ministry of Transport is preparing to raise the maximum speed allowed for passenger cars on highways from 90 kph to 120 kph. To qualify, there must be four lanes with median barriers and the road must be straight without junctions or U-turn facilities. The Ministry says that where there are impediments, the limit must go down to 100 kph. The new rule will come into force in April after appearance in the Royal Gazette. Adjusting the speed for other types of vehicle is said to be still under review.

Compulsory medical insurance
Everybody needs Covid-specific cover and that is easily available online for anyone aged 0-99. The criteria are not your age or your general health but only your country of departure and length of your visa. But some groups of wannabe entrants also need general medical insurance of at least 400,000 baht inpatient and 40,000 baht outpatient. Currently these groups are anyone travelling here on a retirement visa or re-entry permit (O or OA or OX) and those applying at Thai embassies for a Special Tourist Visa (STV). But no others. Not yet anyway.