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Tourists give a thumbs-down to the ‘new’ Khao San Road

The Thaiger

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Tourists give a thumbs-down to the ‘new’ Khao San Road | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: The Nation

“You are destroying the life and soul of the city – and we are not coming back!”

Take that BMA! as tourists give a big thumbs down and slap in the face to authorities who have tried to sanitise the trashy tourist magnet. For decades Khao San Road has been a mecca for back-packers and tourists looking for a bargain along the sidewalk street markets.

The MBA (Bangkok Metropolitan Authority), with the Deputy Governor leading the charge, has spent the last month trying to dismantle one of Bangkok’s unique and busiest attractions.

Thai Rath headed to the ‘new’ Khao San to investigate the vibe after authorities have made their ham-fisted attempt to shift out the traders and stalls from the sidewalks.

Despite opposition and refusals of vendors to move, the area is already a shadow of its former self and tourists arriving are convinced they have come to the wrong place saying it is so quiet and lacking in ‘soul’. In the past, on any night of the year – actually almost any time of the day – Khao San road has been a bustling, rambling mix of cheap, pirated knock-offs, trashy souvenirs, a place to buy bogus IDs and consume cheap alcohol. As you walked along the street you’d walk from one lot of doof-doof into another equally noisy part of the street. And the tourists LOVED it!

Thai Rath is reporting that traders in regular shops, tuk-tuk drivers and motorcycle taxi ranks in the area are speaking with one voice saying that the tourists have virtually all gone.

One comment from a motorcycle taxi guy said it all:

“No one believes it is Khao San anymore. They arrive then stand about looking confused. They ask “Have we come to the right place? They look left and they look right. I have pointed to the street sign to show them that despite their confusion they are indeed in the right place”.

Traders spoke of a once busy and eclectic road and a thriving trade being obliterated in the name of progress and order.

Khao San road, like many other issues in Thailand’s bourgeoning tourist industry, is a heady mix of greed, history, what-tourists-want and the ‘law’. Khao San Road’s sidewalk markets, whilst technically against the law, just grew and grew as the fame of the street grew, along with the tourist arrivals.

When tourists descend onto Khao San Road they want what they read on the can… a chaotic mix of food, music, tourists from around the world, booze (and probably a few other coloured pills).

Thai Rath claims that the government’s efforts to change Bangkok into a place of order may be its death knell in the eyes of tourists wanting to see something they cannot experience in other cities around the world.

There is a current stand-off (read ‘cooling down period’) of seven days when traders are allowed to set up one stall each on the sidewalks in the area from 6pm to midnight. But it is not known that this will be extended in a Thai compromise or whether the authorities will stick to their guns come next week and clear everyone out for good.

Tourists give a thumbs-down to the 'new' Khao San Road | News by The Thaiger

‘Boring!”

SOURCES: Thai Rath, Manager Online

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Bangkok

Khao San Road remains empty during the day, night crowds keep the street alive

Caitlin Ashworth

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Khao San Road remains empty during the day, night crowds keep the street alive | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

Without foreign tourists at Bangkok’s infamous backpacker mecca, Khao San Road has gone quiet. While nights draw local crowds, it’s not what it used to be and the once bustling street remains empty during the day time.

While locals frequent the nightclubs and bars on the street, Khao San Road is not nearly what is was like before the pandemic. The deserted street during the daytime is an ongoing problem, according to the head of Khao San trader’s association Sanga Reungwattanakun. He says before 5pm, the street is empty.

Before the pandemic, Khao San Road generated a revenue of 1 billion baht each year and 99% of the customers were foreigners, Sanga says. Visiting the street has been considered a “rite-of-passage” for foreign backpackers.

The area is known for being crazy with party hostels, cheap alcohol and balloons filled with laughing gas. It’s also known for its eclectic street food like scorpion on a stick. During the day (pre-pandemic), tourists would get massages, go shopping, get some food or grab a drink. (or 2.. or 3…)

Without the foreign tourists, many of the hotels on the street are closed and Sanga says some traders were just too slow to adjust to the new market conditions.

During the lockdown, Khao San Road had a facelift. More than 48 million baht was put into the area for major renovations like leveling out the road and footpaths, adding some gutters and designing space for emergency vehicles.

Since the road’s official reopening with a Halloween event in October, local officials have been trying to figure out ways to pump more life into the street. The campaign “Go to Khao San 2435” was recently launched to try to draw more people to the area. Nightly opening hours have been extended to 1am, but the daytime still remains a problem.

SOURCE: Thai Visa

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Protests

Thai Constitutional Court official files contempt charge against protest leader

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai Constitutional Court official files contempt charge against protest leader | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

A student protest leader is facing charges of contempt after he made statements on Facebook critical of the Constitutional Court ruling to acquit PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, allowing the Thai prime minister and former Army General to continue occupying a military-owned residence. Critics have argued that allowing Prayut, a retired general, to say at the Army residence is a conflict of interest.

Director of the Constitutional Court’s litigation office and police officer, Montri Daengsri, filed the charge against pro-democracy protest leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak. Montri says the Facebook posts made by Penguin were defamatory to the court and had tarnished its reputation.

In addition to the Facebook posts, Montri says the protest leader made an offensive speech following the court ruling at the Lat Phrao intersection in Bangkok. He says the speech was defamatory and violated Thailand’s Criminal Code. Police are investigating the claims to determine if charges should be pressed.

Prayut occupies a military reception house at the 1st Infantry Regiment residential area on Phahon Yothin in Bangkok, according to the Royal Thai Army. Tenants in army welfare houses have to pay for utility bills while those who live in the reception houses, like retirees, do not pay for household expenses and the utility bill is covered by the Army.

The Constitutional Court ruled this week that Prayut did not violate the Charter by occupying the residence. The court says under military regulations, former officers can remain at their Army residence after their retirement at the discretion of the Thai Army commander.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

Schoolgirl bursts into tears meeting Panasaya, fearing for activist’s safety

Maya Taylor

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Schoolgirl bursts into tears meeting Panasaya, fearing for activist’s safety | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.prachachat.net

Protest leader Panusaya Sitthijirawattanakul, aka, “Rung”, has been pictured consoling a young schoolgirl who broke down in tears, concerned about the activist’s safety. Rattapol Kaiipah Promsuwan, who witnessed the exchange, has shared a photo of the moment on social media. She says the girl, who is in Grade 6 (making her around 11 years old), had gone to the organisers’ area during Wednesday’s rally at the Lat Phrao intersection in Bangkok. There, she asked to meet Panusaya, a hero of hers.

The girl’s sister says her sibling has an interest in politics and is concerned about reports that Panusaya faces lèse majesté charges. Thailand’s lèse majesté law prohibits insulting, defaming or threatening the nation’s revered Monarchy, and carries a punishment of up to 15 years’ imprisonment. During her meeting with Panusaya, the girl cried for half an hour, with the student activist trying to console her, and a Facebook photo showing her hugging the child.

Panusaya has received a new summons from the Technology Crime Suppression Division, as a result of a police complaint lodged by royalist supporter, Nitipong Honark, a music composer. She is now being summonsed on December 9, to hear additional charges of lèse majesté and violating the Computer Crimes Act .

Meanwhile, the BBC has named her in its list of the world’s 100 most influential and inspirational women of 2020.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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