We're chatting to expats who live and work in Thailand about the pandemic situation here. Bangkok-based Mark heads up sales across Asia for a US sports recovery company.
Could you introduce yourself (where are you from? how long have you lived in Thailand? and what do you do for a living?)
I'm Mark, 35 years old and I've been in Thailand for three years. I am based in Bangkok and work for a US sports recovery company, heading up sales across most of Asia.
In general, how do you think Thailand has handled the pandemic up to now?
There's not many countries who haven't had "uh oh" moments up till now. However the communication and decision-making has been really poor here. Unfortunately it still feels like there's a way to go.
If you were put in charge of things right now, what would be the first rules or things you would change?
Globally, it seems mass vaccination is the quickest way back to normality whether we like it or not. Allowing hospitals to procure vaccines themselves would help, although that still may not be possible right now. Allowing vaccinated tourists to enter without any quarantine would also be high on my list. It would allow those who have the option to return home to get vaccinated and then have a re-entry option, thus freeing up more vaccines within Thailand for those who don't have that luxury.
Let’s talk about you personally. What is the most regrettable thing that the pandemic has robbed you of or changed about your life?
My 4-year-old son is currently in England and it's very difficult and very expensive to be able to return to see him with such indecisiveness surrounding coming back into Thailand.
From a work point of view, how has your situation changed (if indeed it has) and has there been any significant financial impact?
I've been very lucky inasmuch as I changed roles in March and whilst both jobs and companies have been good to me, being in an industry which focuses on health and wellness is great, especially now people are suddenly caring more about their health. The change in roles also means my time is taken up with learning new parts of the job and connecting with plenty of new people - although minus the handshakes and social beers!
Has the pandemic had any positive impacts on your life?
It's made me grateful in a way that I live in a place where we can still escape the city and get to a beach. I am also incredibly grateful I have security with my job. The saddest thing for me is seeing how many businesses and people are struggling in this wonderful country.
When do you predict the world will return to some sort of normality and we will be able to travel abroad and maybe get to remove these damn face-masks, etc?
I'm torn; however, Singapore's recent news has made me slightly more optimistic. I think the world will soon have to accept that the virus may be around a long time and rely on people being vaccinated - a sort of acceptance that it isn't going to go away but a realisation that the show must go on. I still don't see regular travel being a thing until the back end of 2022 but I hope we can at least get some in before then.
Things started to go pear-shaped in March 2020. Over the past year or so, has your enthusiasm for living in Thailand increased or decreased?
Probably steadied. I love Thailand but there are many places in Asia I love and places where I could happily live. The grass is always greener but I feel that I'd have the same grievances in many other countries. We just don't hear as much about other countries' plights as we aren't in those places right now.
When we get to the light at the end of this long tunnel, have you promised yourself to make lifestyle changes or do some things differently?
I think just make the most of all the things that we take for granted and accept that situations can change quickly.
For someone who doesn’t know how to get through the days and is perhaps suffering mentally, what would be your advice?
Talk to people, find a distraction. Everyone is in this together regardless. Where possible, pay some kindness, however that can be done, let's do it! We all came into this unexpectedly and we are all in the same boat. Keep in mind some folks are hurting more than others.