Grapevine: April 9, 2021


Caution if you please
Everybody is keen to see vaccinated foreign tourists again arriving in big numbers to lift the economic gloom. But security issues need to be addressed in detail. A fake paper vaccination certificate is easily available on the dark web and elsewhere. Digital vaccine passports are also not entirely without security dangers. Look before you leap, as they say.

Foreign tourists last year
Government spokesmen say that 6.7 million tourists visited Thailand in the calendar year 2020. Even that seems a lot considering all the restrictions. Perhaps they mostly arrived and departed in the first two months prior to lockdown, or maybe the total includes all foreigners including business people, returning residents and the rest. How meaningful are statistics?

Welcome to The Pantry
As the number of expats has shrunk, the retail outlets selling expat foods has more than doubled. The latest is The Pantry, a single shophouse unit in Jomtien at the Hanuman circle. Good selection here, especially in the frozen food department, and some items we didn’t spot in the competition. Well worth a look-see.

Norway tastes good
Taste of Norway, Scandinavian restaurant on Thappraya Road in Jomtien, is a popular eating spot for locals of all nationalities. The menu is comprehensive and the food invariably of high quality. If you like special offers, there are plenty to choose here. Lots of breakfast choices and all at reasonable prices.

Scarcity of road blocks
It seems ages since Pattaya City regularly saw roadside policemen checking driving licences and other car and bike-related documentation. Some say it’s policy from the new police commander in Bangkok, but that wouldn’t explain why Banglamung and Rayong still have them. Others say it’s a Covid-related absence. Time will tell.

Hi speed railway moving
The news is that planning is going strongly ahead on the U-tapao to Bangkok hi speed train. Apparently, the budget has been raised by billions of baht because more land will need to be bought than previously anticipated. So when exactly will the new rail service actually begin? The worry is that most expats won’t live to see the day.

XXL marks the spot
An overweight reader asks where he can buy outsize shirts without paying a fortune for the privilege. The first place to try is likely to be Soi Buakow market on Tuesdays and Fridays. From Friendship supermarket cross the road, proceed up the small soi and turn right. There are several stalls offering the big sizes for men.

Italian restaurant moves
Mimosa restaurant, formerly on Soi Chaiyapruek Jomtien, has moved to Beach Road near Soi 10. Judging from the number of customers, it has been a most successful move and attracts lots of Bangkokians who flock to the area on weekends. There’s a varied quality menu, but the crisp pizzas are a major selling point.

Immigration query
A reader asks if you can convert a Special Tourist Visa, issued by embassies abroad, to a one year extension of stay based on retirement. You can’t. When the STV was introduced, it was specifically pointed out that it cannot be used as a bounce to other permissions. STV offers stays of between 90 and 270 days without leaving the country.

Certificate of residence woes
These are issued by the local immigration office to verify your current address but are no longer available in the English language. If you need an English version, you would need to go to a translator who can certify it with a stamp. It is not normally necessary to involve the embassy.