Looking at the positives of lockdown
Home confinement is providing people the opportunity to learn new skills and has given nature a chance to recuperate
Covid-19 is like a command from Mother Nature ordering us to stay still. Of course, it is natural that after staying at home for a while, many people are craving freedom and are anxious to resume their usual lifestyle. People are frustrated by not knowing when the lockdown order will come to an end or at least ease up. However, when looking at the situation from a different perspective, being forced to restrict your movement has a silver lining as it has brought tremendous advantages and remarkable social values worthy for us to adhere to in a new normal way of life.
Amid lockdown, plenty of good incidents have come to light. At the family level, people are coming up with ways to spend quality time with each other with many also spending hours pursuing their hobbies and other leisure activities. Moreover, since most families are opting to prepare their own meals, at least in an effort to use up their hard-earned egg stockpile, many people are watching cooking lessons on YouTube and having fun experimenting with "first-time dishes". This is perhaps more exciting and enjoyable than wasting time watching nonsense dramas and social clips, many of which are misleading and fake. On the contrary, there are no fake menus in this world.
Selling food within housing estates has also become common. Households who are good at cooking are preparing dishes to sell to neighbours, which is a win-win scenario for all. The cooks get to brush up their skills and spend their free time wisely while residents who cannot cook or find it inconvenient to do so do not have to travel far to buy food or waste time in the cumbersome process of ordering online. Most importantly, people in the community are getting to know each other, who were complete strangers prior to the pandemic.
Another new phenomenon is the sale of quality goods and delicacies from provinces across the country to be delivered to buyers in big cities. State agencies from respective provinces have set up promotional channels for housewife groups, farmer networks and community businesses to sell their agricultural produce and processed foods. Sellers are connected directly to buyers, bypassing the middlemen entirely. The quality of goods is high while the prices are reasonable and satisfactory for both parties. There are all types of products -- dried snakehead fish from Ang Thong; dried king mackerel and dried shrimp from Chanthaburi; and cantaloupe from Suphan Buri. Assorted fruits such as watermelon, orange and banana are also delivered from all regions giving Bangkok residents a good opportunity to shop for value-for-money goods without having to step out of their home.
As travel has been restricted and access to public venues is still prohibited and large marketplaces are closed, marine resources are flourishing again. Both deep-sea and coastal fishing activities were scaled down due to declining demand from buyers. It is certain that marine life such as blue crabs and shrimps have had some time to propagate. By the time the lockdown is finished, these animals will be plentiful and big in size, which will fetch a good price for fishermen.
Another benefit of a lockdown is that people with destructive behaviour are deterred from catching young threadfin fingerlings in natural habitats. In this heinous process, wheat flour is placed in drinking bottles to attract the fish and once the fish swim to the bottle, they cannot escape. Sadly, although the fishing device is created for fun in fishing games, it nets a lot of fish that are too small for cooking and cannot be sold. These people travel from Bangkok, Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani to catch the fingerlings in Samut Prakan and Samut Sakhon. Thus, the travel ban has given the threadfin an interval to propagate and grow.
A supermarket in Bangkok back in March. Varuth Hirunyatheb
Also, the lockdown and travel ban has significantly reduced loss of life and property due to road accidents. The Songkran celebration period usually leads to 200-500 road accident-related deaths and thousands of injures every year. However, the death toll caused by drunk-driving during Songkran festival this year was 0.
Ironically, this could be considered a bad time for alcohol traders as they made less money during the otherwise high season for sales.
Amid the pandemic, the environment and ecosystem has also been restored. Thailand has an abundance of beautiful natural settings which have become the building blocks of community establishment. Those magnificent sites have been impaired by damaging tourism. For example, an old riverside community along Klong Amphawa was turned into an afternoon, commercial floating market. Other places such as Chiang Khan in Loei province; Phu Thub Berg in Phetchabun province; and Mae Kam Pong in Chiang Mai were overwhelmed by tourists while their surroundings were left unmaintained. Worse yet, the locals were burdened by mountainous piles of trash as a token of booming tourism.
Other examples include Pattaya and Phuket's Patong beach. They are overcrowded with tourists and inundated with criminal incidents. Despite only a brief stint of closure, the environment has already shown signs of recovery in these locations. It is better than nothing since these locations have been overused for so long.
The Covid-19 outbreak is somehow a way for Mother Nature to claim back her rights, to revive and come to life again. This reminds me of a small beach in Ranong province. It was once tranquil and beautiful, but then it started bustling with tourists. However, in late 2004, it was badly hit by the tsunami. At that time, big trees were uprooted and the beach was covered with black dirt from underneath the ocean. Over time, the seawater became crystal clear as it had never been before. I wish the picturesque beach could remain that way until the end of time.
Once Covid-19 is over, with the deadliest threats swept away, it is our obligation to sustain nature, learn from our experiences and mistakes and lead a sensible life for a better tomorrow.