Sawasdee crab. Who would have thought that the old adage “I wouldn’t hit them with a six foot pole” would become national policy, but here we are 16 months into the coronavirus and so it seems.

Ged walking the streets of Hua Hin, where the pedestrian street shops have closed. Image: YouTube / Ged Hogg, shamefully retiring in Thailand

I hate this coronavirus as much as the next person because I didn’t come to Thailand to spend my golden years moping in my condo, and not even allowed to swim in the pool or go to the onsite gym. and it makes me lethargic, slightly chubby and lazy. My mom always told me that I wouldn’t accomplish anything by lazing around all day, but look at me now mom, I’m saving the world.

Having said that, my life over the past year has not been entirely dark. Between the first and second wave of the coronavirus, although I could not travel abroad, I was able to travel both north and south of Thailand a few times and loved every minute, which should be the case when you are retired.

Also, due to the coronavirus my UK / Australian pension extended much further than it normally would be as I was unable to go out to the bars and restaurants I usually frequent, much to the disappointment of the many ladies who missed out on their usual lady-drinks. My trips to South East Asia also had to be put on hold, so I saved a small fortune by staying at home.

Another bonus that came out of the pandemic is that the exchange rate of the Thai baht against the Australian dollar has returned to an acceptable level. Last May, the B100 would have cost me AUS $ 0.50. The last time I looked B100 was AUS $ 0.41 which is where it should be. When the pandemic is finally over and the world opens up again, I can use the money I saved by staying at home to explore Thailand and the world again … and buy the lady-drinks I owe .

I think the pandemic is wreaking havoc on the mental health of many people, which is why the world must try to get back to where we were 16 months ago. Today, as I was leaving my condo for my morning walk on the beach, I saw a neighbor of mine talking to her cat and it was obvious she thought her cat understood every word she said. I said hello to her and kept thinking the poor lady must be going crazy having to stay home with no one to talk to. During my walk I saw a few self dogs so I sat with them and told them about my neighbor talking to her cat and we all had a good laugh about it.

I know COVID-19 is no fun, but most Brits in adversity try to ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ as Eric Idle sings in Monty Python’s Brian’s life, and we can find humor in most situations because we believe that if you don’t laugh, you’ll probably end up crying. I know on a personal level that catching the coronavirus is no fun. In early March 2020, I was staying in the coastal town of Bang Saray in Chonburi near Pattaya while researching for a book I was planning to write.

On my second morning at the hotel, two Chinese tourist coaches, about 80 in total, checked into the hotel and stayed for two nights. I used to sit with them at breakfast and since it was a buffet breakfast, everyone gathered around the waiters, filling their plates with food, coughing, spitting and breathing on the food and each other. on the others. The day after they left I checked out of the hotel and on my way home I started to feel hot and sweating and later in the trip a tickle in my throat turned into a fatty cough .

When I got home I felt bad as I was living in England where I often caught the flu during the cold north east winters. The next morning I had a high temperature and felt pretty bad so I went to my local clinic and although they didn’t have a COVID test at the time when I told the doctor where I had been the last few days and about the Chinese tourists with whom I had known they told me that there was a good chance that I had COVID-19 and that I would go home and rest and relax. quarantine for 14 days.

I never even thought it could have been COVID as it wasn’t being talked about much at that time in Thailand; in fact, the Prime Minister said that everything was under control and that there was nothing to fear. I felt better in the first week but stayed home for two full weeks and for me it was like a bad dose of the flu but for a lot of people around the world they wouldn’t had this chance.

Over the past 16 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the world and changed the way we live our lives probably forever, because once governments deprive us of our fundamental freedoms, they are not inclined to give them back to us without a fight. The UK where I come from has recorded some 6.3 million coronavirus cases resulting in 131,000 deaths, with the UK having a population of 68 million, virtually the same population as Thailand.

However, over 47 million or more than half of the UK’s population have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and over 40 million have received their second dose, as part of the larger program vaccination program the country has ever seen. To date, Thailand has recorded over 1 million cases resulting in more than 8,732 deaths, with 19.1 million people receiving the first dose of the vaccine, 5.5 million being fully vaccinated and 519,600 more having received. a third “booster shot” – they still have a long way to go before the country is fully immunized.

Credit where credit is due Thailand has done much better than most countries when it comes to limiting the spread of the virus, but recent months have seen a third wave and a spike in the number of reported cases and it is imperative that the vaccination program becomes the number one priority to get the country back to work.

In 2019, 40 million tourists entered Thailand. Sadly, with the onset of the pandemic in 2020, tourism to Thailand came to a screeching halt from March of that year, with just 7 million tourists coming to the Land of Smiles last year, the majority of ‘between them having come to Thailand in the first three months of the year.

At the start of this year everything was starting to be fine and most people breathed a sigh of relief when they thought they could see the light at the end of the dark tunnel, but then came the second wave of the coronavirus and now we are in the third wave, so now it looks like this year will again be a loss for tourism.

Hopefully when the country starts to overcome this third wave, and if there is no fourth wave, we should see tourists start returning to Thailand by the end of this year or early 2022 and i ‘hopes the number will rise to acceptable numbers by the start of the usual peak season in November 2022.

This will give Phuket a good 12 months to try to recover and rebuild their devastated tourism industry, but they can’t do it alone. I hope the Thai government can loosen its purse strings and help those struggling to keep their businesses open or those who will have to try to reopen their businesses when they see signs of tourism returning to the country, because without financial aid, many will struggle to rise from the ashes and rebuild their businesses and their lives.

Maybe the government will finally put aside the B 22.5 billion submarines they ordered for at least a year and invest the money saved in the vaccination program and revitalization of the tourism industry. .

Laew Jer Gan Krab

Ged


Originally from the UK, Ged moved to Australia in 1974. Since then, as a chef, he has traveled the world working in hotels and restaurants, gold mines, cruise ships, cruise ships. supplies in Antarctica, Australian patrol boats, oil platforms. annexes, European ferries and oil tankers. Ged has also lived in Jamaica, Bermuda, Singapore, the Falkland Islands, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and the United States.

He retired to Thailand in 2017, where he reinvented himself as an author and whenever COVID allows, he travels extensively across Thailand and Southeast Asia to do research for his books. To stay active and continue his love of travel, Gerald wrote two books in the ‘Thai died‘book series’Thai is dead … Murder in paradise‘ and ‘Thai bar girl deceased‘as well as five books from its’ Retiree Travel Guide Series’ for retirees and baby boomers.

His first book in the series’The Thailand Retreat Handbookwas published by London publishers Austin Macauley in 2019. Ged also wrote his biography; ‘You will never be equal to anything‘and a historical novel about the first fingerprints were used to secure a murder conviction in the UK in 1905…’The Deptford Mask Murders‘.

All of his books are available on Amazon. Ged is also in the process of starting his own Thailand YouTube channel and is writing a blog to help expats who may be considering making Thailand their retirement home. See Ged Blog about Thailand at RetireInThailand.asia