Pattaya Grapevine: A forgotten Brit-Thai connection


A forgotten Brit-Thai connection
Amateur sleuths have been combing the archives to find all the past royal connections between Thailand and UK. Here’s one everyone has missed. Bridge, the card game, was introduced into Thailand by King Rama VI who spent time in the UK prior to his coronation. International competitions were held from the 1940s. Bridge has been popularized in Pattaya mainly by Brits, excepting a short interlude in 2016 you may recall.

Not another booze zone
Pattaya opposition is mounting to the suggestion that a special zone may be established where alcohol can legally be served beyond 2 a.m. for a further two hours. The problem, of course, is that bars or eateries in adjoining areas will be cut out of the extra profit taking. Many worry that Walking Street only will get the extra concession. “Should be all or none,” according to a Sexy Soi Six bar owner.

Scan that licence
Once you have a Thai driving licence with a QR Code on the back, download it onto your smartphone. You can then show it legally to police or other government agencies. The big advantage is that you can leave the original plastic card in a safe place and avoid the risk of losing it. If you do need to replace a lost licence, there’s quite a bureaucracy awaiting you at the land transportation department.

Verifying documents
A reader asks why his Bangkok embassy can verify his passport or home-country driving licence, but not his degree qualifications. Embassies here won’t confirm the authenticity of documents issued outside of Thailand as they have no access to the necessary files. But passports and driving licences are the exception in most embassies because they do share the government’s home-country data bases.

Gay bills stuck
The temporary suspension of the prime minister, an ongoing saga, has delayed the progress of the bills to legalize gay marriage or permit gay civil unions (there are two separate drafts) as the minds of lawmakers are elsewhere. With a general election due no later than the second quarter of 2023, it’s looking doubtful where wedding bells will be ringing before the next administration takes office.

Numbers are growing
Here are some statistics produced by readers with time on their hands. Apparently, there are 42 Indian restaurants on Pattaya’s Second Road, or in turnings off it, an area not larger than 2 square kilometers. Can New Delhi compete with that? Another reader has counted a total of 33 open bars in the Jomtien Complex, a gay district, with two more starting up this month. Is gay tourism back bigtime?

Visa on arrival
A visa on arrival is 15 days and issued to nationals of around 20 countries, including India and China. Although it can be extended for 7 days prior to leaving, it cannot be used to transfer to another type of visa in Thailand. If nationals want longer, they need to apply for a 60 days tourist visa or a non-immigrant visa at a Thai embassy in their home country.

Visa exempt
Visa exempt means that citizens of almost 60 countries (including UK, US, most of Europe, Australia, Russia and Saudi Arabia) can receive 30 days on arrival without a prior visa application. This is scheduled to be extended to 45 days from the beginning of October with a further 30 days available at Thai immigration offices.

Pattaya floods
The heavy September rains have produced fewer floods in Pattaya than many expected. Mostly the cascading waters have been around only for an hour or two. There are two explanations. One is that City Hall’s digging operations have contributed magnificently as expected. The other theory, perhaps more likely, is that the rains have not been continuous, allowing the old drains to gulp more down.

Rescuing Queen Vic
Since the selling of the British embassy in Bangkok, the historic statue of Queen Victoria has been languishing in a darkish location. It is surely time to move her to more salubrious surroundings, such as the friendly premises of the British Club. The Queen in her lifetime never visited the Land of Smiles but she did meet King Rama V in London and corresponded with royal princes.