Grapevine July 31 – August 13, 2020


Any road up

It is surely unlikely that any city in Asia has as many road repairs, environmental improvements and tarmac replacements as our fair city. And now we hear that Jomtien 2 Road’s traffic will be significantly dislocated at some points until November. That’s on top of cable replacement on South Road which will cause chaos for even longer. Not to be outdone, parts of Beach Road need to be re-dug because the flood defences aren’t quite right. Sure.

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Expense no object

There are two views on all these traffic improvements. Maybe central government is anxious to boost city finances to do all that digging whilst Chinese tour buses are not clogging the sois. Imagine what South Road would be like with a hundred coaches waiting in line with all the other vehicles. The negative view is that we will all get so fed up with the dislocation of peaceful driving that we will abandon our cars and choose the baht buses instead.

Count yourself lucky

Actually, it could all be worse as several road improvements haven’t gone through committee. A major project to make Jomtien Beach Road a one-way street bit the dust a couple of years ago and a plan to beautify the area near Pattaya railway station was mercifully returned to the drawing board at roughly the same time. But expect more of the same in future as Pattaya is in the much-vaunted Eastern Economic Corridor, Thailand’s hi-tech showpiece for the future.

The Thai residence confusion

There was a lot of excitement last month after it was reported that residents of Thailand could return to these shores. Some even claimed all you had to do was to collect a certificate from immigration saying this is your home or wave around your one year extension of stay. But in truth the government meant a permanent resident which is a special category of foreigner with no date in his passport when he or she must extend or leave the country. That’s not you probably.

Fancy becoming one

Those wanting to become a permanent resident can apply at a specified time of the year. It’s not cheap and most applications are refused as a quota system is in operation for each country. Those who are successful have usually worked legally here for some years, have a Thai family and are well regarded by the authorities for meritorious contribution to Thailand’s culture. And you will certainly be tested on your knowledge of Thai or questioned why you haven’t learned it. If this brief description has discouraged you, that’s fine.


Gay marriage on the cards

It’s a surprise to many that a military-backed government is about to legalize civil partnerships/marriage. This means that Thailand will become the first country in this region to do so. The general idea is to enhance the lifestyle of gay Thais with a Thai partner, but foreigners can join the party as long as the spouse is Thai. Don’t forget though that, if things go wrong, Thai law is very detailed on divorce proceedings, settlements and arguments about property and cash.

Some businesses doomed

The official estimate is that 30 percent of businesses in Pattaya may never reopen because of the enforced collapse of mass tourism. Certainly, a lot of mass entertainment venues remain padlocked and most bars and massage parlors are having a struggle making ends meet. The situation for hotels is improving somewhat as the Thai domestic market is booming. Many restaurants are doing well provided that they have developed over time a niche market of enthusiastic diners.

Anyone know about Trink

A paragraph in this column about Bernard Trink who was famed for his Night Owl column in the Bangkok Post attracted several responses from readers who wanted to resume contact with him. Dunno. Bernard no longer writes book reviews for the Bangkok Post and his known email address no longer functions. Hopefully he is in quiet retirement as he approaches his ninth decade and living comfortably with his family.

Thoughts for the week

On marriage:

– Marriage is not a word but a sentence (Anon)

– Marriage is the price men pay for sex, sex is the price women pay for marriage (Anon)

– The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary (Oscar Wilde of course).

In 40 years of medicine I have only seen one successful ex-heroin addict. One. I have my own theory about this, and this is not the result of research, but just a gut feeling after observing drug addicts and their behavior for many years. I believe that after a period of time, the drugs permanently affect the working of the brain, so “normal” or rational decisions are not made, and in fact can no longer be made.

By the way, if you think the drug culture has some sort of honor amongst thieves, it doesn’t. They even have their own slang terms for those who rip each other off. A “Beat artist” is a person selling bogus drugs and “Beat vials” are vials containing sham crack to cheat buyers.

Please keep your children away from drugs.