LATEST SITUATION IN THAILAND AFTER THE DEATH OF KING BHUMIBOL
It was with great sadness that I heard the news about the death of King Bhumibol. I was with a group of Thai friends at the time and it was very emotional. We all knew this time was coming, but it hit everyone hard. Thais and foreigners alike. Everyone had tears in their eyes for a great man that had done so many great things for the country. The initial mourning period will last for 30 days, but funeral rites will last for one year. This will then be followed by the royal cremation.
Ever since the announcement of His Majesty’s death last Thursday shortly before 7 p.m. I have been tweeting live updates on @RichardBarrow to inform people of the situation. At times like this, it is difficult to get accurate information, and that is when Twitter become invaluable. Even more so in a foreign country where you don’t speak the local language. The majority of my tweets are translated from the Thai media to help foreigners better understand the latest situation.
I decided to start this page after I saw a lot of misinformation being put out on social media and the international press. I was also getting a lot of questions about what it is like in Thailand at this moment and what, if anything is open. So, this is a guide to my observations so far. Please come back as I will constantly update this page. Also, I suggest you follow me on Twitter @RichardBarrow for any breaking news and updates.
THE SITUATION DURING THE FIRST THREE DAYS:
- King Bhumibol died at 3:52 p.m. on Thursday 13th October 2016. The announcement was made to the nation shortly before 7 p.m.
- Flags to be flown at half staff for 30 days. Most Thais expected to wear black, grey or white for 30 days. Government officials to wear black for one year.
- Over the first few days, people were in shock. Entertainment venues were asked to close or at least turn off the lights and music, and shut the doors. Many places also stopped selling alcohol over the weekend.
- Quite a few events scheduled over the first three days were cancelled or were toned down. Some cinemas shut their doors on the day after the death of His Majesty. Local Immigration offices shut for one day.
- There were no advertisements on the electronic billboards and on the skytrain. Mannequins in the shops were all dressed in black.
- On Saturday, the annual Buffalo Racing in Chonburi was cancelled, though the Buddhist boat parade in Bang Phli went ahead. It was confusing to know what would be acceptable.
- On Sunday, the malls were packed. Cinemas open as normal. People eating in the restaurants. Life goes on.
- All airports continued to operate as normal. All transportation networks, buses, trains and boats, continued as normal.
LATEST UPDATE (17th OCTOBER 2017):
- Nightclubs are allowed to open and sell beer, but they mustn’t organize any special activities or play loud music. Basically, they are allowed to continue as long as they keep it behind close doors and are respectful.
- Shows aimed at tourists are all open as normal, this includes Siam Niramit, Alcazar Cabaret, Tiffany’s Show, Calypso, Muay Thai Live etc.
- The government said that Loy Krathong can continue though any entertainment should be toned down or excluded
- Cinemas, ice rinks, zoos, tourist attractions are all open as normal. Night markets in Bangkok opened as normal at the weekend. In Chiang Mai, the famous Night Bazaar and Walking Street opened as well.
- Shopping malls are all open as normal. Local markets in Chinatown, Pratunam, and Bo Bae were all packed over the weekend. Chatuchak Weekend Market was open as well, but as shops are individually owned, some chose not to open as they wanted to go to the Grand Palace. We expect them to be fully open next weekend.
- The Temple of the Emerald Buddha and The Grand Palace is closed to tourists until at least 20th October. Every other temple around the country is open as normal. This includes the historical parks in Ayutthaya and Sukhothai.
- Dinner Cruises on Chaophraya River are continuing though they won’t play any music and will dim the lights
WHAT IS CANCELLED?
- Full Moon Party cancelled on 17th October
- Hellfire Pass Memorial and Walking Trail will be closed from 14-16 October
- The Sound of Heritage concert scheduled for 21 October is cancelled
- Lumpinee Boxing Stadium and other Muay Thai rings in Bangkok are closed for one month. Lumpinee will re-open on 15th November
- Bangkok Street Show, scheduled for 10-12 December has been postponed
- Pattaya International Fireworks Festival, scheduled for 25-26 November, has been cancelled
- The Illuminated Boat Procession, scheduled for 9-17 October, has been cancelled
- Chiang Mai Yi Peng Lantern Festival at Tha Phae Gate on 13-15 November has been cancelled
- Naga Fireball World Festival in Nong Khai, scheduled for 15-24 October, has been cancelled
- Bangkok International Festival of Dance and Music is cancelled
- Morrissey Live in Bangkok scheduled for 18 October is cancelled
- Scorpions 50th Anniversary Tour, scheduled for 26 October, is cancelled
- Pattaya Loy Krathong Festival, scheduled for 25-26 November, is cancelled
- New Year celebrations in Pattaya are cancelled
It is expected more will be added and possibly some cancellations rescinded. Come back as I will update the above list daily to make changes. New additions will be added to the top of the list.
Tourists are not expected to wear black for the next 30 days. However, if you are able, I am sure the Thais would appreciate it if you wore muted colours. If not, it is possible to buy a black ribbon to pin on your shirt. Please be respectful at all times when around Thais. They are in deep mourning. But, life goes on. For Thais too. The King himself said that he didn’t want people to weep at his passing. So enjoy your holiday.
Please follow me on Twitter @RichardBarrow for all the latest breaking news and updates.