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Miss airplane travel? Here’s some flight experiences that don’t leave the ground

Caitlin Ashworth



Miss airplane travel? Here’s some flight experiences that don’t leave the ground | The Thaiger
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Since international travel is still on pause, some are getting their flight experience on the ground. Airplane cafes and flight experiences are becoming more and more popular. Thai Airways has not only opened a pop-up café to sell airplane food, but they are also offering flight simulations to the public.

The stimulator flying experiences start at 12,000 baht for 30 minutes and go up to 36,000 baht for 90 minutes. It’s apparently the most realistic flight simulation in Thailand and is normally only used for training the pilots, according to the airline’s executive vice president of operations Soradech Namruangsri. He adds that the deal will also generate some additional income.

The airline’s café has also “taken off.” The café at the Thai Airways headquarters in Bangkok gives the travel experience without being in the air. Customers pose with luggage at the door and sit in airplane seats. They offer dishes like pasta carbonara, Caesar salad with smoked salmon, and mango cheese cake.

Since the lockdown forced many to stay at home, the café gives the travel experience without the actual travel. A customer says the café “relieves what’s missing.”

“Normally I’m a person who travels very often, and when we are forced to stay at home… it’s kind of depressing.”

In Chon Buri, a coffee shop in a decommissioned Airbus 330 became so popular that it had to temporarily close down last June. Thousands of daily customers crowded the airplane café Coffee War, making social distancing difficult.

Many pose for photos in the first class seats. The “passengers” even get boarding passes. A customer says experience is a lot of fun.

“With this café I can sit in first class and also mess around in the cockpit pretending to be the captain of the plane.”

Another customer says she also likes to sit in the first class section, adding that it feels like she’s “cruising through the air.”

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Nation Thailand

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.


Khao San Road to reopen for Halloween

Caitlin Ashworth



Khao San Road to reopen for Halloween | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: The Club Khaosan

The party is coming back to Khao San Road this Halloween. The once booming backpacker district went through a renovation during the lockdown period and now the Bangkok governor says they’re ready to reopen the street.

Khao San Road has long been a district frequented by foreign backpackers. It’s known for it’s grungy and lively bar scene as well as its eccentric mix of street food, like scorpion on a stick. During the lockdown, 48.4 million baht was put into the streets for major renovations like leveling out the road and footpaths, adding some gutters and designating space for emergency vehicles.

Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang says a Khao San Road Halloween party to help stimulate travel. There was talk about removing street vendors from Khao San Road, but the idea got a lot of backlash. Luckily, street food will stay put and 240 food vendors will be set up along the street from 9am to midnight for the Halloween weekend.

Khao San Road will also run a street market and set a stage for performances on the November 28 and 29 as well as News Years weekend, according to Nation Thailand.

Aswin says events are also planned for Loy Krathong and New Years. The area around the street was so packed during last year’s New Years, that streets and alleyways were more like mosh pits. Phones were stolen, fights broke out. It was a mess.

Loy Krathong happens every year on the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar. People make offerings for the water goddess and ask for forgiveness. A krathong is usually made of banana stems, leaves, flowers, candles and incense sticks. It’s then floated down a river.

Khao San Road isn’t known as a place where people ask for forgiveness, but apparently Loy Krathong will be celebrated along with other cultural events, according to Coconuts Bangkok. Loy Krathong happens to fall on Halloween this year.

SOURCES: Coconuts Bangkok | Nation Thailand | Bangkok Post

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How BTS became the biggest band in the world

The Thaiger



How BTS became the biggest band in the world | The Thaiger

Even if you’d been living under a rock you’ve probably heard someone mention the band BTS. The South Korean group has risen up through the ranks of K-Pop – a Korean musical blood sport – since 2013. From very humble beginnings indeed, they’ve risen from pimply youngsters with a dream into a 7-member powerhouse in the world’s pop industry.

How big? Whilst there’s been ‘Beatlemania’, the stand-out genius of Michael Jackson, the YouTube-upstart Justin Bieber and the half-century run of The Rolling Stones, there’s never been anything quite like BTS. Everything about their rise to the top has broken the mould of pop music culture.

Forgetting the thousands of ‘western’ pop hits to make it to the top of the Billboard Top 100, BTS boasts the most non-English-language top 10s at four, two more so far than their fellow South Korean, Psy. The last Asian performer to have a #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart was in 1963… ‘Sukiyaki‘, sung by Kyu Sakamoto. Even Psy’s phenomenal hit ‘Gangnam Style’ only reached #2 in the Hot 100.

Their latest retro summer bop ‘Dynamite’ has already been #1 for 2 weeks in a row (as of September 13) and looks like it’s going to be the late summer positive pop the world was looking for. In the 3 weeks since its release the YouTube video clip has amassed 345 million views, a record. They also broke the record for the most number of views in 24 hours, at 101 million.

So, yeah, they’re BIG.


Whilst difficult to compare musically, statistically BTS are up there with the greatest bands of all time, and they’re still on the rise. By the way, BTS is short for their full Korean name Bangtan Sonyeondan (방탄소년단), translated loosely as Bulletproof Boy Scouts.

Whilst their clean-cut image and positive messages are are a bit ‘old style’ for the grittier current pop music scene, the BTS message has clearly resonated with a new generation of music consumers.

In 2019, 39% of ticket buyers to BTS stadium concerts were 18 to 24 year old females, 27% were 24-35 year olds of both sexes. The next biggest core of BTS fans is females over 40. And these fans are from all over the world.

In the white-washed pop music world, and a storm of white noise on the internet, it’s difficult for a performer to ‘break out’ and find a voice in the current model of the music business. So how could 7 young Koreans claw their way to the top of the charts and fill the world’s biggest sports stadiums with screaming fans?

The group, comprised of Kim Nam-joon (RM), Kim Seok-jin (Jin), Min Yoon-gi (Suga), Kim Tae-hyung (V), Jung Ho-seok (J-Hope), Park Ji-min (Jimin) and Jeon Jung-kook (Jungkook), are hardly ‘overnight successes’. They debuted in June 2013 in the cut-throat K-Pop scene and they were hardly an instant success.

Their big break came when an act of a popular Korean music show had to cancel and the producers needed a filler. They wore T-Shorts with their names emblazoned across the front because no one knew who they were.

Working with an almost unknown production company (Big Hit Entertainment), the 7 members started crafting their sound with long nights and weekends, living in the one room, using their managers cars and homes as props and sets for music videos. Somehow the trainees fitted in their schooling as well. They contributed to the production and writing in most of their material, and still do.

They battled a cruel K-Pop industry and haters that saidBTS “didn’t fit the mould” of K-Pop ‘idols’. There were plagiarism controversies, death threats, social media hate campaign and just plenty of people who thought they’d go the way of most K-Pop acts… into obscurity. But they persisted and were relentless in their dream to make it big in South Korea and even dream to one day reach the shores of the lucrative US pop market. In November 2016 they won Best Album of the Year in the South Korea’s main music awards program. They were utterly surprised (below) but it was a pivotal moment and they would never turn back…

They clawed their way to a position of recognition in the K-Pop world, meanwhile garnering growing support in the west, well, everywhere around the world. Whilst it’s difficult to measure their success against other bands, there are a few important keys to their success which has music executives scratching their heads.

BTS sing mostly in Korean. Just consider that for a moment. They’ve passed through the musical bamboo curtain to have #1 hits in the UK, the US, Europe, Asia… well, everywhere. They’ve already scored 3 number one albums in the US on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart, in the same year – a feat achieved only once before by The Beatles, a situation that hasn’t been lost on the humble septet. BTS even sent themselves up, along with Stephen Colbert, on The Late Show performing in the same Ed Sullivan Theatre The Beatles debuted to a US TV audience back in 1964 – a pop culture moment that not only launched The Beatles to global stardom but changed pop music forever, proving that bands would have to be TV-friendly to succeed in the future.

For 2020, BTS have already sold the most albums of any artist in the world, when you include actual albums and digital downloads, beating out a host of huge US, UK and European names. ‘Map of the Soul – 7’ is a reflective look back at their own careers, over 7 years, as a team of 7.

And now ‘Dynamite’, the feature single from their upcoming new album, is reaching an entire new audience with a retro disco vibe that pays homage to the dance grooves of Michael Jackson.

At their sellout concerts, the audience sings along with all their hits, in Korean. At their concert in Bangkok in 2019 I witnessed 50,000 (mostly) Thais singing along… in Korean, a language otherwise completely foreign to them. (By the way, on one side of me at the concert was a 40-something husband and wife who had flown from Sydney to see the concert, on the other a mother and three kids, 8 – 15ish)

As to their ‘secret sauce’, that is quite clear. It’s a devoted fan base who are mostly tech and social media savvy. They’ve weaponised the internet and used it as a positive tool to share, chat about and sing everything ‘BTS’.

Tat fanbase is called ‘ARMY’. Whenever the group speaks they ALWAYS sincerely attribute their success to the legion of loyal fans. ARMY have meanwhile used the internet to do what ‘radio play’ would have provided in the past, reaching beyond South Korea’s borders in a way that had been impossible even 10 years ago.

As #BlackLivesMatter trended in social media, as part of a larger protest movement in the US following the death of George Floyd, BTS made a $US 1 million donation to the movement. ARMY responded and within two days had matched the BTS donation from fans. They’re fans were also part of the K-Pop fans flooding of the #WhiteLivesMatter counter-movement, replacing messages of hate with pictures of their favourite BTS photos or lyrics.

BTS’s YouTube music videos (there are hundreds) have broken several records on YouTube, their Twitter followers were the world’s most dedicated in 2018 and one member, J-Hope, had the most tweeted video in the world last year. BTS, through 7 years of sharing their lives, arguments, dance practices, ups and downs, have cleverly used social media to reach out with their message and music.

The band members shared the minutiae of their lives with thousands of uploaded photos and videos and also relentlessly shared their core themes – that life isn’t always easy as a teenager and young adulthood, you need to love yourself before you can love someone else and your mistakes will make you stronger in the long-run. Their music isn’t all sugary sweet and often lapses into darker messages and addresses current social issues.

Many of their videos are expensive, cinematic extravaganzas with hidden messages and ongoing story lines threaded between them. ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ is 4 years old now but was a breakout video for the band and exemplified their command of music, story-telling, dance and style – all in one piece of art.


They also shared videos showing themselves fighting, crying, arguing, laughing, eating, shopping and backstage – just being 7 young men battling their way through the music industry labyrinth as underdogs. The classic rags-to-riches story is at the core of their popularity.

The difficult-to-measure ‘X’ factor is also strong in these 7 talented young men. There’s a genuine bond of friendship between the Bangtan boys and it shines through whenever they appear in public, or video – it’s not fake. And, after working their act for 7 years, there’s a comfort and ease on the stage, some describe it as ‘swag’, where their performances appear effortless whilst pulling off breath-taking dance routines. As they’ve grown over 7 year,s their music and performance has also morphed from earlier hip-hop beats to more sophisticated performances, edgy R&B, pure pop and epic power ballads and anthems.

Within their 7 years of ensemble work there are also generous sprinklings of solo projects, fully supported by the rest of the team. Whilst ‘doing a solo project’ from within a group is usually code for ‘I’m leaving the band’, with BTS it’s been a core part of the band’s raison d’être. At every BTS concert, each member also gets their moments to shine.

Another part of their strength is that they’re all remarkably talented – they sing, they dance, they rap, they write, they produce. They also have great ‘visuals’ (in K-Pop speak) presenting an all-Asian look to a white-washed western pop industry. There are no weak links in this ensemble, just cruising along with their good looks.

They keep collecting legions of adoring fans and celebrity fanboys and fangirls, have had 3 successful cinema releases of concert tour documentaries (the latest ‘Break The Silence’ released this weekend), have spoken at the UN, appeared on just about every important TV variety show around the world, and somehow stayed reasonably grounded along the way.

Their music, whilst often sung with Korean lyrics, is immediately catchy, has plenty of pop influences yet shines through with something unique that continues to set them apart and keeps amassing new fanbases around the world. In their concerts you’ll here pure pop, hip-hop, rap, power ballads and other songs that simply show-off their voices and powerful dance moves. That they keep it up, at full throttle, for their 2 and a half hour live concerts, is one of the modern wonders of the music world.

Yet, amongst the hype, the YouTube records, the sell-out concerts and music sales, are 7 young men who have allowed their true personalities to shine through.

RM (Kim Namjoon) is the group’s leader (the only member to speak fluent English) with an IQ of 148, V is the quirky one who’s often described as the band’s ‘secret weapon’, Jimin the ‘flirty’ one who shares his ‘up & down’ journey with fans, Jungkook the supernaturally talented youngest member (or ‘maknae’ in K-Pop speak). J-Hope is hyper-energetic and perennially cheerful, Suga is the brooding musician with the sharp tongue, and Jin the ‘world-wide handsome one’ (a self-mocking moniker he gave himself after the media attention to his looks over the years) who loves cooking for the band and telling dad-jokes.

There are thousands of videos on YouTube recording the band’s rise from very bottom of the K-Pop pile to international stardom. Whilst you can check out any number of their music videos or live performances (there are thousands of videos!) I would urge BTS-newbies to start with this address by leader RM (Kim Namjoon) at the United Nations in September 2018. It provides an insight into the intellect and feeling behind the pop sensation and a small part of what sets BTS apart from just about every other musician in the world today.


Whilst they are obviously riding high on a wave of fame right now, most music pundits think they’ve got plenty of room, musically, to extend their fandom and fame. Perhaps, even to become one of the greatest music bands of all time.

As a footnote, looming over BTS is the Korean government’s security law that all it’s young men must enter 2 years of national army service by the time they reach the age of 28. The oldest member, Jin, is already 27 and the band members have already stated they are happy and proud to serve their time of conscription. In the meantime they’re not wasting any time as they continue to plunge head-long into a grilling schedule they’ve been keeping up now for seven years.

How BTS became the biggest band in the world | News by The Thaiger

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“Thai government refuses to acknowledge the red light economy”

The Thaiger



“Thai government refuses to acknowledge the red light economy” | The Thaiger


Thanks to WB for sending us this response to earlier article. The views expressed by WB do not represent The Thaiger, its management or staff.

Prostitution is not illegal in Thailand, although many activities associated with it are (brothels, pimping, causing a public nuisance, etc.). Nevertheless, it was estimated to be worth US$6.4 billion a year in revenue (2015), accounting for a significant portion of the national GDP – Wikipedia.

Thailand faces a grim choice. It can have tourism with widespread Covid or it can stay closed up, but it can’t have tourism without Covid … there is no middle ground. All the data available from other countries shows this to be the case.

Its second dilemma is that Thailand has traditional multi generational households (generally 3 generations) and if Covid gets into the broader community it will pose a massive threat as it will be impossible to isolate the elderly/vulnerable, from the younger generations that will predominantly remain asymptomatic and spread the virus unknowingly.

The third dilemma is the Government’s refusal to look at the real facts about its GDP and economy. The “tourism” industry is not about how many farang pass through an airport, it’s about how much money is spent in the wider community and where it’s spent.

They may choose to look strictly at the formal sector and survey the 5 star hotels to make their assumption of a 15-19% GDP number, but in reality there is a massive informal tourist economy that effects tens of millions of Thai people and businesses.

This is not the t-shirt seller, this is flow on economy from the million or more bar ladies.

They all purchase food from the street venders, get their clothes laundered, rent rooms, pay bills, and send the bulk of their income home to support an extended family, not to memtion all the “boyfriends” remitences from overseas. In the great fight to save face the government has refused to acknowledge their existence and include them in any type of covid financial aid, and that doesn’t just effect the lady but her whole extended family.

The ripple effect from this is being felt far and wide. One room is now occupied by 4 ladies and 3 rooms are vacant. The payments on motorbike loans are not paid. Mama-noodles are the economic choice and the BBQ cart is struggling, as is the chicken farmer, and the chicken feed producers. The real estate financial problems are coming as these same ladies are no longer able to service their bank debts for land and house building.

The Catch 22 is unfathomable, the reality is hard to face and it is a guaranteed loser at the next election regardless of the choice made, but delaying the choice is not going to work for long either.

The only thing that is certain is that the Phucket quaratine bubble will not work in its proposed form due to the characteristics of this virus. You either need to isolate each and every guest from the other guests for 14 days or you will have an outbreak. The minute you have an outbreak the staff will try to flee due to the superstition and fear that has been built up (needlessly) about the virus. Those fleeing staff will spread it as they go and the whole 6 month quarantine/lockdowns/restrictions will have been for naught, and then they will start again destroying what is left of the economy.

I do not envy the choices to come, but the true science needs to be used or thousands will die needlessly, my family may even be among those numbers.

Perhaps the “ministers” should get some plain clothes and go hang out at the bars in Pattaya (and other places), buy the ladies some drinks and ask questions, they will be only to happy to fill you in on what is really going on below the shiny surface that is the hi-so hotel bars of Bangkok. Heck, im happy to introduce you and get the conversation started if you like.



In July 2016, it was reported that the Thai government intended to abolish the sex industry. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, the tourism minister, said… “Tourists don’t come to Thailand for sex. They come here for our beautiful culture” and that “We want Thailand to be about quality tourism. We want the sex industry gone”. Kobkarn was replaced as tourism and sports minister in November 2017

In 2015 Havocscope, a database providing information about the global black market, gave an approximate figure of about 250,000 for the number of prostitutes working in Thailand. In 2015, UNAIDS in estimated the total population of sex workers in Thailand to be 147,000. Another UN report, prepared by NGOs, estimates the number of prostitutes in Pattaya at around 30,000.

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