It was certainly a grim week for Thailand with one item of bad news after another.
With the emergence of the so-called UK variant of coronavirus I was a bit reluctant to go out to Makro to do my pre-Songkran panic-buy stocking up on enough baked beans and cheese to last the week in isolation. My annual water avoiding quarantine.
Hailing from the sceptred isle I was a tad concerned that the shelf packers might inquire as to my provenance and I might let slip, as I made a grab for the HP Sauce, that I was born in Kent.
I could see myself being thrown out despite wearing a mask. But all was good as I loaded the paniers of the Rooster-mobile and headed back to Ratchayothin with supplies aplenty.
I had hoped to actually get out this coming week safe in the knowledge that Songkran had effectively been banned again. I felt it unlikely that anyone would randomly come up and respectfully wet my head with lustral water.
But the outbreaks of Covid in Bangkok and the banning of ANY form of frivolity mean that the closest I’ll get to the great outdoors will be a Big Mac meal with jumbo protective clothing and a side order of Chai Chana.
It should be a joyous time of the year. Mrs Rooster and the chicks were hurried out of the coop on Wednesday amid fears that provincial travel might suddenly be banned. She’ll be in Loei for five weeks leaving me to stew in my own juice. A kind of cock au vin.
It soon emerged that my fears about missing the boat in dispatching the family were unfounded. PM Prayut and DPM Anutin were actually in favor of packing everyone off up-country to spread the virus. Who was I to question their bounteous wisdom….
I just told the missus to try not to hack in the direction of Yai (who is falling apart with diabetes and old age in her sixties) when scooping the maggots off the nutritious pla ra.
The CCSA promptly closed most things down in 41 provinces and a Chula “top doc” told us how to quarantine at home.
For Rooster this seemed like teaching one’s gran to suck eggs or as the Thais say, sorn jorakhae hai wai naam (teaching a croc to swim).
I checked all the vital ingredients of seven days++ of isolation.
Fodder. Check. Netflix. Check. Bill paid for True EPL package. Check. Call to friend on the same corridor to make sure he’d got the beers in. Check.
So back to the latest misery outside as my editor sent me translation after translation with Covid, pandemic, restrictions, ban, VAX, no tourism and scary in the headlines.
Dr Yong warned that this year would be 170 times worse than last. Thanks doc, appreciate that!
Prayut – increasingly looking like a retired general out of his depth deep in doo-doo – muttered something about whatever will be will be.
He had hoped that his appearance in Bang Pa-in to open a section of the new elevated road to Korat would focus attention away from the misery onto his AI – Amazing Infrastructure.
Not a bit of it – all the Thai reporters wanted to know was about clusters and cock-ups and why a third of his ministers were spreading virus to the population after popping in to see “ee noo” (little mice) in Thong Lor nightclubs.
Chuwit went on Facebook to call on the senators and cops to “come clean” – that sounded awful to a child of Viz’s Finbarr Saunders and his Double Entendres.
The legendary finger pointing, soapy massage visiting, greasy TV show presenting, bar destroying, park making wannabe politician and playboy appeared grey and withered – well past his sell-by.
But he did have a point about one rule for the proles and another for the pols.
All the bad news in Krung Thep was soon flooding nationwide. In Hua Hin where they’d hoped to attract some Songkran tourists, there were 30% cancellations of hotels and nearly 100 virus cases. News that there would be a million people at the airport there by 2025 got swallowed up in the bigger picture.
On Wednesday Rooster went to a hospital to reschedule an appointment and saw the queues at the testing “drive-in”. The Police Hospital was swamped after RTP HQ had an outbreak. The lines there looked like a cluster waiting to happen.
The lady at Viphavadee Hospital reception was telling a Chinese man’s go-between that they still didn’t have any VAX to sell. On Saturday Thaivisa reported it was taking longer than expected to allow private hospitals to jab to follow “international standards”.
Nonsense – methinks the delays are just to allow locally produced vaccine in June onto the market as a kind of white knight saving the day to make certain people look rosy.
Quarantine of 14 days was announced in many provinces for people arriving from the capital and four other risky jangwats. Good luck with enforcing that with Mrs R in Loei.
Nightclubs were shut and alcohol banned in many places. Field hospitals were set up everywhere. Songkran – or what was left of it – is now but a distant memory.
The laurels that Thailand had rested on are now crumpled beyond recognition. Poor testing regimes (surprising for a “testing” regime) and slow vaccine rollout are now coming home to roost. As are having utter incompetents in charge of the government.
It almost became a “by-the-by” that Covid cases were going through the roof and the worst fears of the medics were becoming a stark reality.
Hunker down, get the tea on, and find out how to watch The Masters in Thailand. Then finish The Serpent on Netflix – a reminder of better days in Thailand when all we had to worry about was being drugged, robbed, dumped in Pattaya and set on fire by serial killers….
In international news the UK was plunged into grief – or what my brother called “oily twaddle” – by the death of Prince Phillip on Friday. He was just a few months shy of 100.
Rooster – no royalist – thought it was probably good news for grouse but I have to admit that my daughter benefitted in Thailand by completing her gold badge in the excellent Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. The community service-outdoor adventure-self reliance initiative was promoted at my school and helped many young people in this kingdom and around the world.
Stateside Uncle Joe called guns a “national embarrassment” after the latest mass shootings. He’s hamstrung because it is the 2nd Amendment that needs changing first.
Many gun toting loonies in the USA have no appetite for that. Sky featured one redneck saying: “Firearms are no different to a hammer or a spatula”. There really is no hope.
In London the courageous Myanmar ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn found himself locked out of his own embassy after opposing the junta back home. Meanwhile in his homeland the carnage continued.
In sports news Justin Rose continued to lead the aforesaid Masters in Augusta, Georgia, after round 2. He will be hoping to convert leading into winning in the early hours of Monday Thai time.
Back in Thailand the air pollution continued despite rains. A Sky News report in the UK concentrating on Chiang Mai spoke of 32,000 premature deaths from respiratory and other diseases in Thailand calling it a “public health emergency”. They mentioned fires….
That other public health emergency was set to hit consumer spending by 100 billion baht despite my efforts at Makro.
A dozen Bangkok hospitals stopped virus testing amid shortages and 559 Covid cases were reported Friday.
Fortunately there was still some news to make us smile. A monitor lizard went stir-crazy in a 7-Eleven mounting the shelves in a viral video of the week.
Though it was not such happy news for a moggie who had gone missing and was found by her distraught owner swallowed whole by a replete python out back of the house.
Finally, the probation department on Koh Samui have found a great use for foreigners caught drink driving.
Rather than punishing them they have arranged for them to teach English. One report showed a German called Mr N delivering a lesson to the smiling ladies.
A German teaching English?? yelled many on Facebook though it seemed a perfectly good idea to me.
Especially as I taught Thai in Thailand for 20 years!
Not bad for a miscreant from Kent.