Around Town

Cambodian lesson

Compare Thailand’s convoluted rules about one-year visas with the situation in neighbouring Cambodia. There, you can obtain what is generally known as a “general” visa for $US 35 at the airport on arrival and can easily convert it to a one-year multiple-entry visa for under $US 300. No fuss and no bother if you use one of the visa agents in Phnom Penh. It is especially popular with frequent visitors to Cambodia who don’t want to fill up their passports with Cambodian visas every time they enter the country.

Taxi crackdown

Pattaya police and other officials are once again threatening to crack down on 300 local taxi drivers who are refusing customers, not using meters and exhibiting abusive behaviour. Apparently, this kind of thing simply won’t be tolerated in future in five resorts including Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and Phuket. How will it all happen? One suggestion is that there should be fewer baht buses on the roads so that customers will use taxi cabs more and make the drivers more cooperative. Another idea is that the Pattaya police must “do something”. That one we have heard before.

Tourist numbers 

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says that marketing the city overseas in travel shows has paid off with numbers visiting the country expected to top 10 million in 2016. However, officials do admit that the Chinese tourists who have offset the decline in the number of Russians in raw numbers often don’t spend much owing to their habit of travelling on low or no cost packages which don’t contribute to the Pattaya economy. Thus a campaign is to be launched to persuade potential Chinese visitors to spend more or come on their own.

Highway tolls coming

You may have noticed the building of five new toll booths on the Chonburi-Bangkok motorway which are expected to be completed by August this year. The booths will be located in Ban Bueng, Bang Phra, Nong Kham, Pong and Pattaya. Rates will be one baht per kilometer driven with a full drive from Pattaya to Chonburi costing 120 baht. Expect to see the so-called toll plazas in operation by the beginning of 2017.

Bizarre bridge

One of the outcomes of the raid on the farang pensioners’ bridge club in Pattaya last month is that the club has likely become the most famous in the world, even while it was closed! Over 300 news stories in the local and international media were counted, not to mention untold thousands of messages on social media and blog sites. It’s not clear whether such publicity will boost the club’s popularity or frighten away wannabe players.

Bad Brits

There’s been a recent splurge in the number of Brits getting into hot water in Pattaya. Local news has counted seven in the past month who were abusive or drunk or were breaking the drug laws. They included a Scotsman who was harassing tourists on Walking Street and punched a city hall officer.  If Scotland ever becomes an independent country, the authorities there might need to post a full-time consular officer here as the English are likely to walk away from foreigners north of the border.

Smile news

You have to check the detail if buying a ticket from Thai Smile, the subsidiary company of the major Thai airline. Last October, there was a great fanfare that all Thai Smile flights would use Don Mueang Airport and no longer Suvarnabhumi. But a passenger has just written in to say that he missed his flight to Phnom Penh because it started from the latter. The lesson is to check your ticket carefully.

Don Mueang news

Speaking of our second airport, the facility is already geared up to handle 30 million passengers a year following the opening of Terminal 2. Further redevelopment is on the cards with a modernization of Terminal 1 and the possible construction of a new passenger terminal connected to the Bang Sue-Rangsit rail link which is also known as the Red Line. Only two years ago, people were querying whether Bangkok in fact needed two airports. Indeed it did and does.

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