Well, it's only a slogan after all
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has decreed that the "Amazing Thailand" slogan will need rebranding once the coronavirus situation is sorted out. So from October, we will be treated to "Amazing Trusted Thailand", emphasising safety and aimed at "high-end" tourists. Well-intentioned as it may be, this new slogan doesn't exactly roll off the tongue and the middle word may prompt a few wry smiles.
Now and again the tourism authorities introduce an additional tagline to the original Amazing Thailand slogan that was introduced two decades ago. Back in 2011, they came up with "Miracle Thailand" which suggested some kind of divine intervention had been called upon and admittedly it would have come in quite handy at that time when things were on the dodgy side.
Then in 2015, we had "Discover Thainess'' which prompted a lot of letters to the editor and some lively dinner party discussions on what exactly is this mysterious thing called Thainess. Three years later, we were treated to the cool-sounding "Open to the New Shades" which was widely praised even though no one really knew what it meant.
They shouldn't mess around with the slogans too much and frankly, it's hard to beat the original "Amazing Thailand". The handy thing is that you can interpret it in any manner you wish. In this kingdom, things can be amazingly confusing, amazingly absurd or even amazingly amazing. I am pleased to say it is rarely amazingly dull. Thailand can happily carry on simply being amazing and let's leave it to the tourists to make up their own slogans about the place.
The new normal
Due to some spectacularly poor planning on my behalf, for two days running last week, I experienced long trips in taxis across the city. It was a bit of a strange feeling in that I was almost glad to experience traffic jams again. It meant that life is slowly getting back to normal, whatever that might be.
A word of praise is for all those Thai workers who have been entrusted with the unenviable task of taking our temperatures at malls, supermarkets and offices. Most of them are doing it with a cheerful disposition, even when dealing with grumpy specimens like myself. I like to think there is a smile behind their masks, although more likely it's a yawn and maybe even an occasional scowl.
I've got an uneasy feeling I'm going to find the "opening up" of Bangkok considerably more demanding than the "closing down". It's partly because I'm not entirely sure what you can and cannot do. There seem to be certain inconsistencies, especially when it comes to social distancing. I am intrigued by how they enforce social distancing in the narrow alleys of Chatuchak Market, while a couple of tourists bathing in the sea on an otherwise deserted beach in Pattaya are arrested for mingling.
My thanks to Ian Vincent in Muscat for taking me to task for using the wrong term in the item last week concerning Robin Hood. As he pointed out, arrows are never "fired" but "loosed, shot or released". No wonder I was so hopeless in my youthful attempts all those years ago to match Robin of Loxley -- I had been "firing" the arrows when I should have been "releasing" them. Never mind, it's still a great opening sequence in that TV series considering it was shot back in 1955 when no one had heard of "special effects". I will always love that delicious "twang" sound when the arrow hits the tree.
Apologies are for the misspelling of aujourd'hui, one of the few bits of French vocab I thought I had mastered. French words are henceforth banned from this column. I have enough problems with English as it is.
Flight of fancy
Whatever one's opinion of Thai Airways International (THAI), it is still a bit sad to see the national airline end up in the bankruptcy courts, although many would argue this should have happened long ago. Like Charles Dickens' character Mr Micawber who found himself in similar financial difficulties in David Copperfield, the airline will no doubt be hoping that "something will turn up".
I used to have a soft spot for the airline because I first arrived in Thailand aboard a THAI flight from Calcutta (Kolkata) in April 1969. In those days, it was regarded as one of the best airlines in the region and a very pleasant flight it was too, even on an ageing Caravelle jet. Mind you, after having spent the previous three months travelling overland on a clapped out bus tackling blizzards, seriously hot deserts, unfriendly camels, dire accommodation and getting sick as a dog in Kabul, anything halfway decent felt like unashamed luxury. A glass of wine served with a perfect Thai smile on that flight fitted the bill perfectly. The second glass tasted even better.
Getting Nowhere fast
If for some bizarre reason you would like to learn more about that overland journey and my early days in Thailand, or you are really desperate for reading matter, you can always purchase The Long Winding Road To Nakhon Nowhere currently gathering dust at Asia Books, Amazon.com and Danny@dco.co.th. If self- isolation hasn't already driven you round the bend, this book will probably do the trick.
Happy reading and stay safe.
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Bangkok Post columnist
A long time popular Bangkok Post columnist. In 1994 he won the Ayumongkol Literary Award. For many years he was Sports Editor at the Bangkok Post.
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