Grapevine: February 25, 2021

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Shortage of Thais
600,000 babies were born in Thailand last year. It sounds a lot but remember that, 20 years ago, the number was about double that. Thailand already had one of the lowest birth rates in the world by 2010, but the latest figures are a cause for panic. Expect the government to introduce all sorts of inducements, e.g. tax breaks and subsidies, to try to encourage fecundity.

All eyes on October 1
According to the government, Thailand formally opens up for the high season with the promise (not cast iron) that quarantine for the flocking thousands will be abandoned. It’s not clear where these guy and gals will be coming from. The UK and most of continental Europe are locking down and even banning citizens taking vacations. China has been noticeably silent about resuming charter tours. Oh well!



Difficult to get out
Boris Johnson has banned Brits taking holidays abroad. The more desperate ones are adopting equally desperate tactics to get out. One guy from Liverpool showed airport staff a letter from a dentist in Pattaya saying he had an urgent appointment next month, thus arguing he wasn’t on vacation. Not quite what Boris had in mind when he called for absolute proof of the need to fly away.

Stickman pauses for a while
The 20-years plus online columnist for nightlife in Bangkok and Pattaya says he’s stopping his writings for now because the pandemic has torpedoed the international tourist trade. Stickman has been a worthy successor to Bernard Trink and a good deal more informative about the bar scene. If Stickman returns he may have to change tack to write about the Eastern Economic Corridor. An awful thought!



Best breakfasts galore
There’s apparently a never-ending fascination about where to find the best breakfast in Pattaya and what it consists of. This column has declared an amnesty but you can follow all the latest claims on the Facebook group Breakfast Group Pattaya which claims 45,000 members. Here are all the latest photos of huge helpings of high cholesterol foods which would make Dr Iain gulp for air.

Suburbs equally vulnerable
There’s a view that remote areas such as Huay Yai and the more distant bits of Soi Siam Country Club are a safer bet if you want to party after hours or drink alcohol in group sessions at two in the morning. The argument goes that these areas are under different police authorities which aren’t on the ball. Trouble with that theory is that the latest arrests have been at Huay Yai and Soi Siam County Club.



Re-entry permit not enough
It’s worth reminding ourselves that you can’t get back into Thailand just by showing your passport and re-entry permit on arrival at Bangkok airport. You also need a certificate of entry from the Thai embassy in the country you are departing from. That, in turn, requires a host of paperwork which will be detailed on that embassy’s website. Embassies have some discretion about the detail, so watch out.

Back in business
The Land Transportation Department, out there near the International School of the Regents, seems to be working near normal again. You can arrive wisely around 7.30 am renewing a driving licence. If your number is 1 to 15, you will be finished by lunchtime. If you have a later number, you’ll be asked to come back in the afternoon or the next day. (Ed’s note: I went on Monday, 8 Feb., waited in line for an hour, had my paperwork checked, then was told to come back at 13.00 PM eight days later on the 23rd. Starting 19 Feb., the new requirement is to bring a medical certificate. No exceptions.)



Limiting the pandemic
Doubtless there are many reasons why some countries have been, to date, a lot more successful in handling the pesky virus than others. But one factor seems to stand out. Those countries which monitor new arrivals by compulsory quarantining generally have much lower infection rates than those which require only voluntary isolation. Well done Thailand.

Two different 90 day reports
Nearly all expats have to report their address to Immigration every 90 days unless they leave the country. This can be done within a three weeks window – 2 weeks before or 1 week after the due date. Quite separately, those on one year retirement extensions, using the 800,000 baht method, have to report separately three months after obtaining their extension. This is to check that the big sum is still in their bank account. Not same same.