A black and white world

Click bait headline? No, I’m not talking about race relations.

The colorful Thailand of all the brochures and videos you know no longer exists. The color has been evicted. By decree (not sure if it’s royal or military), everyone in the country is expected to wear black until Nov. 13, the end of the first 30 days of mourning for their recently deceased king. Government workers must wear black for a year.

If you run out of black, white is okay. Foreigners are requested to comply but not ordered to. For the Thais, however, this is definitely an order, and they dare not disobey for fear of literally being gang beaten by their peers.

You can guess what this did, overnight, to those who sell black clothing. Prices went up almost immediately and stocks of black shirts, skirts, bloused, dresses and pants took center stage at retail shops. Shortages resulted.

This mandate is not without its financial repercussions (outside the lost business because of three days of draconian restrictions). Most Thai are relatively poor, living on an average of about $300 a month. Buying black clothes to at least supplement what they already have is expensive for them. But the Thais would apparently go without food in order to comply with the “wishes of their king.”

I could do a whole rant about kings and royalty, and the fealty of the public, in general, toward them – but not here, not now. Suffice it to say that for most Thais the king was a father figure. And from what I’ve read, he was a good man, devoted to his people.

But back to my point about the financial hardship for many people to comply with the black-clothes-only edict. The situation has even gone so far as the government teaching people how to dye their clothes black, and even providing the dye.

A friend of mine who works at a bank was told she had to wear black for work, so she had to buy five new blouses, at about $5 each. That’s a lot of money for her and she had to ask a friend for help.

Not to mention the restrictions the government has placed on the economy, particularly affecting the important tourism industry, which accounts for 10% of GDP. Bars playing music are likely to have a policeman come in and “ask” that they stop. Festivals all over the country are being canceled or shrunk in terms of activities. Loud, boisterous behavior is a no-no. Loud clothes are frowned on.

It will be interesting to see how they control the tourists in Pattaya and Phuket.

I find all this absurd.


About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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