Thailand

Shut Down

A sanitizing portal at the local mall. Walk through and be spritzed by benzalkonium chloride which may or may not kill COVID-19

The pandemic continues. Gripped by fear, we all watch the number change. I use this site. 

Worldometer.  I’ve been sucked into watching the numbers change and imagining what it all means. 

Here, in the land of smiles, we’re lurching slowly toward a shut down of all things. Edicts, it seems, are issued forth every afternoon and then implemented the following day. Airports squelched passengers from certain countries. Then temperature checked the rest of us by scan. Then individually. 

Though not banning travellers outright, there are onerous hoops to leap through to enter the country. Insurance requirements. Health Certificates that are hard to come by and mean very little. One must also submit agree to being tracked on your phone.  All this before even being let onto the airplane to come here. 

The rest of us were urged to be distant. On Wednesday, they closed the massage parlors and bars. Restaurants with bars in them did a bang up business. And, the hotel down the road hastily converted their rooftop bar to an al fresco restaurant thanks to some duct tape. 

On Friday, then, they ordered the restaurants closed, except for takeaway orders. Street food carts can sell, but only for takeaway as well. 

On Sunday, they ordered the closure of nearly everything else. Not only markets and shops, but gyms, and pools, and boxing arena, and cockfighting arenas, and fish fighting centers. (yes, those are already illegal, but now they are doubly illegal)  Plus! They shut down cowfighting arenas. Who knows what cowfighting is? It is not the same as spanish bull fighting. 

Anyway, by today, the streets are whisper quiet. We’re encouraged to stay inside, but it’s not banned. There just isn’t anywhere to go. The parks are open, but group activities are cancelled.They are full, but everyone keeps their distance. 

The grocers are all open. And frantic. Oddly, the expat grocers are, like America, void of toilet paper. But if one goes down the street to the stores where the thai’s shop, there is plenty. But then, there is a run on Chef Boyardee. Saw a couple by 24 cans of the stuff.  And they didn’t even buy any toilet paper to go with it. 

Today, walking down the street, one sees no sign of illness. But everywhere, are signs of worry and maybe despair. There are smiles, but there is strain. The massage shops are dark, but inside the employees are inside, instead of outside. Out of uniform.  Occasionally, the wave at passers by. I think if you went in, they’d still do business, even though there’s a “Closed” sign on the door. One shop even set up a grill and converted to a takeaway food stall. 

Everyone is hustling. And because the streets are quieter, there is more banter among the vendors and customers. There is more friendliness. Maybe it’s because there is more time or there is a feeling of a need to be supportive. 

Mrs. SAM and I feel a need to support the people in our neighborhood. We try and frequent where we can, choosing a different place each day. We figure that we should eat out where we can, lest they close up the rest of the vendors and we’re stuck on home rations for the duration. 

Then it’s frozen pizza and pasta for awhile. Until then, we’ll shop where we can and maybe make some closer acquaintances with the people in our neighborhood.

Categories: Thailand

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