Again, after seeming months of nothing, our world has been opening. We are hopeful for more openings soon. Parks and pools and gyms are open. Maybe boxing stadiums and movie theaters will open next week.
The malls in Bangkok opened a week ago. Despite calls for social distancing, they were quite crowded, but controlled. A myriad of crowd control and monitoring setups were in place. It is interesting. Three months ago, all entrances were monitored by metal detectors in an effort to stop the next mall mass shooting. A mere 90 days later, the metal detectors remain but are unmanned. It is thermal scanning and contact tracing via mobile phone check-ins. Nothing is loaded on the phone, but the time you enter and leave a store is recorded, so that if it is determined you were in a certain place and you were exposed, they’ll reach out and let you know. 2 meter lines are spaced out on the floor everywhere, so you know where to stand in line. Here is a video on what just one local mall is doing to reopen. Yes, it is that intense.
Besides the continued ban on alcohol, dining out is less intimate. Party size is limited and we need to sit caddy corner or separated via plastic screens a la “Midnight Express” prison scene. Though I think the comedic value is immense here, this is a scene Mrs. SAM declines to recreate for whatever reason.
Domestically, checkpoints between provinces have opened, and travel is now allowed. We still opted to rent our own car rather than sit cooped up on a bus or train and we headed to Hua Hin, a local beach town. The Marriott there was one of the few hotels open. Very little in the town was open save a few scattered restaurants. Parks were closed and open markets were closed, but the beach was open and it was awesome to be away and doing nothing different in a different place.
On the beach every morning, the monks walk the beach seeking alms, something they’ve been doing for eons. And despite the pandemic, they’re still out there begging every morning, and though the crowds are sparse, their bowls are topped up.
Hopefully, the blessings they dole out in exchange are working, and our world will settle in a place that’s for the better. All things being impermanent and all.