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Traveling in Thailand: Important Concepts

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  • Traveling in Thailand: Important Concepts

    Note that over the last twenty years warnings in both number and scope have increased for American citizens around the world. The issue is open to debate but there are three main "reasons" that we seemingly can no longer walk the earth as we once innocently did.

    1. The simplistic "They hate us," without any ascription to why this should be so other than the inane "...because our culture is democratic and free."

    2. The very real possibility that less than even-handed Middle East policies since the turn of the 20th century have finally caught up with us.

    3. The very real possibility that the so-called global threat against freedom and democracy IS real and that we are faced with a concerted movement, as seemingly reflected to all except those who refuse to admit it, to take over the world with a fundamentalist theology.

    There are other "takes" on what is going on, of course. The future will tell what is really occurring but it is the present we live in. For the present, then, remain aware and informed. When overseas, remain aware that you are in a foreign culture and that you cannot apply normal personal prejudices and cultural habits to where you happen to be at any particular time. In Thailand specifically, a culture that very predominantly prides itself on tolerance and peace, the truth is a little different. Tolerance often involves acceptance of others' difference, but also includes deep ingrained expectations of what the host culture believes to be a modicum of adherence and behavior. When that line is crossed on a single individual level or at a group level, your failure - intentional or otherwise - to adhere and behave in the accustomed way can have devastating consequences.

    Thais are, unfortunately, extremely easy to anger and insult - and if you think westerners are different then you may need some cultural orientation. Locally that anger and insult can immediately lead to physical violence.

    Read the associated State Department travel alert as posted below, and keep in mind the basic essentials of getting along and keeping up with personal safety minimum needs. Plan ahead, keep personal belongings well-hidden, don't get into arguments with locals when you and/or they are drunk and in an agitated state. Treat the local as an equal. He or she is, and needs to be recognized as such.

    Frank G Anderson
    Warden, Korat

    (italics mine: doc)
    Experienced Community organizer. Yeah, let's choose him to run the free world. It will be historic. What could possibly go wrong...

    "You're just a jaded cynical mother****er...." Jeffpeg

    (more comments in my User Profile)

  • #2
    Thailand Travel Alert: August 2, 2013

    Dear fellow Americans:

    Wednesday, September 18, 2013 Udon Thani is the next US consular outreach scheduled. Note that Korat's VFW organization meets the second Saturday of each month at the Rachabhruk Hotel in downtown Korat.

    I have tried to ensure updating of current email addresses. If there are still any problems please advise.
    As to personal safety in Thailand, it may be prudent to remind all that Thailand is often viewed from the outside much more harshly than from within. Be that as it may, various diplomatic missions have provided relatively recent warnings, cautions and even suggestions not to travel to certain areas of the kingdom. The following links will take you to the individual mission's travel advisory.

    Overall, the standard advice one should always abide by holds - don't take risks and stay aware and informed. Be prepared, as much as you can, for any sudden emergencies such as having your wallet stolen or room robbed. Don't fraternize with strangers especially while intoxicated.

    Thailand remains, in my opinion, a pretty safe place overall, although perhaps not compared to certain other countries that may be more developed or have more rigit safety rules and public safety awareness.

    All the best to all,
    Frank G Anderson
    US Embassy volunteer warden, Korat

    August 2, 2013
    The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August. This Travel Alert expires on August 31, 2013.

    Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services. U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.

    We continue to work closely with other nations on the threat from international terrorism, including from al-Qa'ida. Information is routinely shared between the U.S. and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats.

    We recommend U.S. citizens register their travel plans with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website. We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens Traveling abroad enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don't have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

    For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Internet website where the Worldwide Caution, Country Specific Information, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. Download our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes or Google Play, to have travel information at your fingertips.
    In addition to information on the internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, from other countries, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays).

    Australia -

    • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Thailand due to the threat of terrorist attack, particularly in the provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla, where we advise you not to travel. For more information on the threat of terrorist attack in Thailand, including in Bangkok, see under Safety and Security: Terrorism.
    • Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
    • Large-scale political demonstrations and related incidents in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand have occurred in recent years. Further political demonstrations could occur. You should avoid protests and political rallies, and any security deployments associated with such events.
    • Carefully consider your safety and the implications of accidents if you hire a motorcycle or jet ski and seek advice on any restrictions that may apply (such as insurance cover if you are not licensed to ride a motorcycle in Australia). You should check with your travel insurer whether these activities are covered by your policy. You may be detained and arrested by police following jet ski and motorcycle accidents until compensation, often in thousands of dollars, can be negotiated between parties.
    • Australian travellers continue to report harassment and threats of violence by jet ski operators on beaches across Thailand, and particularly in Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.
    • Tourists may be exposed to scams and more serious criminal activity in Thailand. Be aware that food and drink spiking occurs in Thailand, including around popular backpacker destinations such as Khao San Road in Bangkok the night-time entertainment zones in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket, and during the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan.
    • Travellers planning to attend Full Moon parties at Koh Phangan or other locations should carefully consider personal safety issues and take appropriate precautions. See our Partying Overseas page for advice on the risks you may face when attending Full Moon parties and tips on how to avoid becoming a victim.
    • Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death penalty. The possession of even small quantities of "soft drugs" for recreational purposes can result in lengthy jail sentences.
    • We strongly advise you not to travel at this time to the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla or overland to and from the Malaysian border through these provinces due to high levels of ongoing violence in these regions, including terrorist attacks and bombings that result in deaths and injuries on an almost daily basis.
    • We advise you to exercise particular caution in the areas surrounding the Preah Vihear Temple (known as Khao Pra Viharn temple in Thailand) and the Ta Kwai and Ta Muen Thom temples, all on the Thailand-Cambodia border, due to the presence of unexploded ordnance. There was renewed fighting in the area in early 2011 and there continues to be a military presence in these areas.
    • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
    o organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy. Remember that if you cannot afford travel insurance you cannot afford to travel to Thailand.
    o register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
    o subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it’s reissued.

    United Kingdom -

    There is a high threat from terrorism. Bomb and grenade attacks have been indiscriminate, including in places visited by expatriates and foreign travellers. There have been attacks in the past in the main cities of Thailand, including in Chiang Mai in 2010 and in Bangkok in February 2012. You should remain vigilant and keep abreast of local security advice and media reports.

    Since 2004, there have been almost daily attacks in the far south of the country, including arson, bombings and shootings. Targets have included civilians and members of the security forces, government offices, tourist hotels, discos, bars, shops, marketplaces, supermarkets, schools, transport infrastructure and trains. Over 3,500 people have been killed and several thousand more injured. No British nationals have been killed in these attacks, but some foreigners have been killed and injured.

    Martial law remains in place in the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and in the Sadao district of Songkhla province. The security authorities can detain suspects without charge, censor the media, conduct searches and seize documents. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla.
    Experienced Community organizer. Yeah, let's choose him to run the free world. It will be historic. What could possibly go wrong...

    "You're just a jaded cynical mother****er...." Jeffpeg

    (more comments in my User Profile)


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