Are you planning a trip to Thailand ? Do you know what's really going on in the country? You can find a short summary here.
Even though it is mainly known for its beach paradises and the ability to stay at minimal cost, Thailand is nonetheless notable for its political instability. After the coup on May 22nd, the twelfth in the country's history, the army regained control over Thailand. Since then, the country has been under martial law and no new parliamentary elections are expected before 2015.
The personal freedoms of the country's population are becoming increasingly restrictive. Social networking is used to reward those who denounce opponents of the system. A student was arrested for reading 1984,, George Orwell's anti-totalitarian novel.
Following repeated military coups, critics of the Thai monarchy are increasingly succeeding in making themselves heard, even though they are severely repressed. Students were arrested for having made the three-finger salute, lifted from the "Hunger Games" movie series, which became a symbol of resistance to the military junta. In the movies, the sign is synonymous with rebellion against the dictatorial power structure.
On November 30th, the country celebrated the King's birthday. At the age of 87, the thorny question of succession has to be asked. Bhumibol Adulyadej is considered by Forbes to be the world's wealthiest sovereign, and that naturally leads to tensions in Thailand. In particular, what will happen to the king's €26 billion personal fortune?
Thailand's economy is dependent on tourism. It welcomed a record 26.5 million foreign tourists in 2013. Political uncertainty therefore has not prevented people from taking visiting Thailand. However, in September last year, two young, English tourists were murdered on a beach that is popular with vacationers. These factors, in conjunction with the political instability, mean that Thailand needs to restore the confidence of foreign travelers. This reflects the need for caution, but also an increased awareness on the part of tourists who, for the moment at least, only see Thailand through the lens of its beach paradises. I plan to visit the country very soon (in March 2015): you can follow my adventures on my blog.