A holiday weekend finally brought tourists back to Thailand with most businesses not caring they were Thai, not foreigners.
For the first time since Christmas, parking spots were nearly impossible to get along Pattaya or Jomtien Beaches. Boats to Koh Larn were full – as much as possible with social distancing – and hotels and restaurants buzzed.
The “new normal” was looking a lot like the old normal, except few of the faces were white.
Thai families poured into the city for the four-day weekend, unconcerned about bars being closed for two days for Asalaha Bucha and Khao Phansa. They camped out on beach mats, rode banana boats and scarfed on grilled seafood at the beach.
There were still the temperature scans and obligatory hand gel, but for the first time in months, the coronavirus pandemic felt far away.
Of course, it was still an important Buddhist holiday and on Sunday and Monday tourists and locals flocked to Pattaya temples to pray and make merit. Mask use was heavy, as social distancing proved difficult in tight spaces.
Believers donated Buddhist lent candles and fluorescent bulbs. Many wore white and refrained from eating meat.