Grapevine July 2 – July 16, 2020


Future of the visa amnesty

Everyone is waiting with baited breath to know the future of the immigration amnesty for foreigners “stuck” in Thailand after it ends on July 31. Given the ongoing problems with restricted flights and closed borders, expect some kind of extension month-by-month. But the detail may well vary according to your nationality/passport. And we hear that one year and Elite visa holders will need to resume reporting their 90 days.

Airport ready by 2055

The mammoth, multi-billion baht infrastructure to rebuild U-tapao airport and create a satellite city over there will happen in stages. Expect a new terminal by 2024, a high-speed railway by 2024 and a final countdown to completion by 2055. The whole scheme which is central to the Eastern Corridor economic project is funded by a consortium of public and private sources. In other words, there may be some slippage in those dates. But you’ll likely never find out.


Pattaya’s new hub?

Although we have got used to seeing for sale and for rent notices all over town, the area in and around Tree Town on Soi Buakhao seems to be doing better than most. It’s a lively and competitively-priced entertainment district with some exotically-sounding names such as the eateries The Hungry Hippo and The Chunky Monkey. Parking nearby might be a problem at night, but you should mosey on over there.

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Tourists in a long queue

If you are in a special category – such as an investor, a businessman, a medical tourist, a permanent resident or a foreigner married to a Thai – at least you have been mentioned by the government as a priority group sometime in the near future. But ordinary tourists – especially from UK, Europe and the United States – are not scheduled for permission to land in Thailand any time soon. We are in for the long haul as it were.

Bring your wallet to Cambodia

You are welcome to go to the Land of Dreams. Sort of. But you will need at the airport a Covid-19 free certificate issued in the last three days and travel insurance worth US$50,000. Then you will need to open a bank account there with at least US$3,000 in cash which the authorities can dip into to pay for your two weeks quarantine in a Phnom Penh facility. Did somebody say that Cambodia is a cheap country?

Chess players neglected

The last time we looked, the cozy chess alcove on the fourth floor of Central Festival Pattaya Beach was still closed. Given the relaxation of the coronavirus rules and the fact that chess players are hardly a crowd, it is surely time to reopen a facility which used to serve a good professional purpose for lovers of the game. A two-meter social distancing rule would not be a problem in that location.

Bernard retired at last

Bernard Trink’s Nite Owl column was dropped by the Bangkok Post in 2003 and with it the mini reviews of bars and clubs in Bangkok and Pattaya disappeared forever, too. Bernard soldiered on for a while with his own website and managed periodically to write book reviews for the Bangkok Post. But the website was disabled years ago and his last book review was in January 2020. Born in 1931, Bernard is finally retired but it’s likely he doesn’t give a hoot.

Pandemic a fast learning experience

Awful though that pesky virus is, it has taught us a lot about the English language. We now hopefully know the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic and a travel bubble versus a green tunnel. All of us are conversant with newly-learned expressions such as Covid-19, new-normal, Covidiots, terminal procedures and accidental impregnation. Six months ago, nobody would have believed a world plague would contribute so much to our learning curves.

Booze thoughts for the week

“Actually it takes only one drink to get me loaded. Trouble is I can’t remember if it’s the thirteenth or fourteenth,” (George Burns). “A man is never drunk if he can lay on the floor without holding on,” (Joe E. Lewis). “He died of cirrhosis of the liver and I can tell you that’s something that doesn’t come cheaply,” (P.G. Wodehouse).