is thailand safe?

Although I have been blogging about my trip to Thailand last week – I suspect some of you may still be wondering: “is Thailand safe?

Now I have to admit when the political protesters blocked the airport I found it hard to be sympathetic for travelers who were bleating about being ‘stuck’ in Thailand.  That may have been unfair of me, as, as a passionate nomad, as a  traveller who makes her own arrangements as to how, where and when I’ll travel, and where I’ll stay, my thoughts were ‘Thailand is the easiest of countries to leave’.

peaceful lives along the klongs in this old 'Venice of the east'
peaceful lives along the klongs in this old 'Venice of the east'

In my mind I was saying to those nameless people on TV, just get a train south, fly from Phuket,  Malaysia or even fly out from Singapore’. I also knew they could go north to Changmai or west to Cambodia. But I also know, many of those people, even those on the so-called various ‘intrepid-type-travel’ programmes that screen around the the world, that even those  intrepid travellers would not know what to do either. ( After all they have an entourage of minders looking after them, just out of camera range – it’s hardly intrepid.  So to the tv I said, ‘just hole up in your hotel, lay by the pool and wait’.  Guess I was jealous – as I wouldn’t have minded an enforced stay (paid for by the airlines or insurance) in Thailand.

So, back to the question, is Thailand safe?

OF COURSE IT IS! 

Buddha images for sale
Buddha images for sale

 

 

 

When I was there –only a week ago– there was a demonstration outside Parliament when the ASEAN conference was on, but just as when Oxford St, London,  is blocked due to road works  or demonstration (or any road in LA, New York, Miami, Sydney, or even when the so-called ‘boy-racers’ disrupt part of my city  on a Friday or Saturday night … the rest of us are not even aware of it happening .. all we see is the same as other TV viewers see and it doesn’t affect our life.

So too with any political unrest in Thailand ( insert any other countries name here too) YES it is safe …  in fact I have often heard that straight after any major event is when it’s safest to go anywhere – after all the security is on high alert.  and the demonstration had nothing to do with travellers:

It was political, not a secuity risk to any traveller. Go there NOW – I’m sure it will be cheaper.

pecha kucha: I help 79 men become monks in thailand

 

monk takes photos at the Grand Palace in Bangkok
monk takes photos at the Grand Palace in Bangkok

 

Pecha Kucha Night is a presentation format for creative work originally devised by Astrid Klein and Mark

Dytham of Klein-Dytham Architecture (KDa) in Tokyo, Japan in 2003.

The name derives from a Japanese term for the sound of conversation (“chit-chat“). A Pecha Kucha Night is a non-profit orientated event that is part of an international network and consists of a format where presenters show a data slide-show of 20 images, each of which is shown for 20 seconds, giving a total presentation time of 6 minutes 40 seconds.

Each event aims to have a maximum of 14 presenters. Presenters (and much of the audience) are usually from the design, architecture, photography, art, music and creative fields. The event format has been replicated in more than 172 cities including London, San Francisco, Seattle, Rotterdam, Shanghai, and Berlin, as well as in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Nelson. Events are usually limited to one each month per city and to a minimum of four events per year.

Pecha Kucha Nights Auckland is currently organising their twelfth event, Wellington hosted their fourth event in late 2008, and Nelson, Hamilton and Dunedin have recently joined the New Zealand contingent.  The next one in Christchurch New Zealand is on the 2nd April and features this blogger – the kiwitravel writer – anda presentation on  how she became involved in helping create Buddhist monks from 79 ordinary men to celebrate and commemorate the King Of Thailand’s birthday.

Below are some additional links to more information about Pecha Kucha Nights in New Zealand andinternationally:

http://pecha-kucha.org/ 

http://www.pechakucha.co.nz/

http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/commentary/

traveller or tourist? what is a backpacker?

Am I a tourist or traveller? What are you? As a backpacker, I belong on one side of the great divide in the world of travel snobbery. The saying that prevails around this group is – tourists know where they are going, but don’t know where they have been, while travellers know where they have been but don’t know where they are going.

web james bond islandOf course, my friends who stay in hotels are horrified at the idea of sleeping on a rooftop in Jerusalem with 29 others, or any of the other shared places I’ve slept in.


I, on the other hand, cannot imagine spending any more than the occasional night in a sterile, albeit luxurious, hotel.

Many of my friends hate to leave home without knowing where they will sleep, what tours have been booked, what times their transport will leave and exactly where they are going. They think I am crazy to have no idea where I am going, where I am staying and what I will see. This is, for me, the difference between a traveller and a tourist, characterised by the freedom of time and attitude. As Hostelling International says in one of their adverts, backpacking is about attitude not age.


However if you have two, three or four weeks to enjoy an annual holiday, or this is your one chance to visit Europe, China, or Australia, and it is important you see all that you can join a tour. Being part of a tour is the only way to fit in the top sites.web beach at indigo pearl Just make sure you are not in a cultural quarantine – returning home untouched by any contact with locals.

As a nomadic wanderer, I often miss many of the ‘must see’ tourist places but leave a country having been to a wedding, had a long coffee and meal with a local school teacher, taught swimming to a group of young Thai boys and on another occasion, spent three weeks on an island cleaning up a marine-reserve after a monsoon. Am I the only person who went to New York and merely stood at the bottom of the Twin Towers?


Conversely, I don’t know any ‘tourist’ who volunteered their time in a soup kitchen in the middle of a New York blizzard. The snobbery evident on both sides of the fence: ‘I can afford to stay somewhere clean and civilised’ versus ‘I can afford the time to spend a long time travelling’. Different strokes for different folks.


web laos polly and iSo what do others have to say about the topic? Larry Krotz (Tourism. 1996) says travel, or going somewhere as a tourist, has become something we do in order to share our culture – like going to an annual sports or cultural event. He discusses the shift over 150 years, from travel for education and knowledge to the enjoyment factor of today, ‘something everyone does’.

WEB naked-front-cover


Mass ability to travel, as things became cheaper and faster, was captured originally by Thomas Cook mid 19th century, making a fascinating topic to read. So, if you want to know about the conveyer belt that tourism has become; how we are a product to be seduced, fed and watered, displayed and then returned home go to the library.

So, if you want to know about the selfishness of people like me who get off the beaten track and then don’t want you to discover it too; if you want to know about the affects of tourists or travellers on the country we travel in, I recommend the whole section on tourism in your local library.