An Ugly Situation: The Appalling Lack of Safety in Thailand

If you are going to take a vacation in Thailand, you need to think about safety. Thailand can be incredibly dangerous. It is good to be aware of the safety issues before you go.

Websites such as Tripadvisor are very happy to encourage you to travel to exotic locations, but the problem is that they may not be eager to tell you about certain problems, such as bombings and the number of people who get hurt or killed for one reason or another at an exotic tourist spot. Pattani is a particularly dicey place to visit because there have been several bombings there. Don’t expect Tripadvisor to discourage you from spending your money with them on a wonderful trip to Pattani.

On May 9th, two bombs went off in a Big-C in Pattani and 56 people were injured. These attacks occur often in the south, but they are less frequent around Bangkok.

The extreme south of Thailand is in the grip of a Muslim insurgency, and there are a lot of killings, even in broad daylight. Vacationing in the extreme south is out of the question.

As far as Thailand goes, I have never met anyone else who has traveled so much across that country. I have done that because I want to write a book about Thailand—its history, its art, its society, its regions. I started this task in 1997, and I made over thirty trips from overseas before I decided to live here.

Thailand can be very dangerous, and a lot of people make a one-way trip. My intention is not to scare people, but I want to be clear about the threats. The point is that a cascade of problems can overtake the unaware tourist, and that is usually how a one-way trip results.

Thailand has the second-most dangerous highways in the world. Poor road maintenance; poor police supervision; slow, non-professional emergency services; people driving with a fake license that cost them 200 Baht; widespread use of drugs and alcohol; bad, or completely fake, medical care; and a devil-may-care attitude about safety—these all add up to a scary situation. After seeing several foreigners get severely hurt and others pass away due to accidents, I decided that I must say something. The roads are out of control in Thailand, and excessive alcohol consumption is fueling an incredible problem.

It seems that a lot of tourists die from drowning, from being attacked while isolated, and from falling through roofs. Why in the world people want to walk on a roof while drunk is beyond me, but a lot of people seem to do this and pay the price.

There are a lot of suicides in Thailand, especially in Pattaya. Pattaya is a center of international crime, and if you go there you are taking a huge risk. Read the local news in Pattaya if you are thinking of going there. Every violent crime in the book, every scam, they are all there.

If you are from a developed country, you take certain things for granted, such as the safety of electrical devices, chairs, lights, etc. In Thailand, you need to be careful. Exposed wiring, unsafe fans, electrocution, and falling over from an unsafe chair, are just examples of what can go wrong. I know of a man who just passed away because his chair collapsed and he hit his head on the stone floor. The safety of everyday objects is not what it should be in Thailand. Exposed wiring and electrocution are real problems.

Rabies is a problem too. Thailand is the third-worst place in the world for rabies. If a dog bites you, clean the wound immediately and go to a hospital for the prophylaxis. Do not wait.

Information security is also an issue. Rootkits are common in Thailand, ones that allow for remote terminal access with root priviledges onto your device. Whatever else you do, don’t purchase pirated software because it often comes with crimeware buried inside. Patriot COMSEC has found crimeware inside pirated Windows 7 versions. Buying pirated software is just not worth it.

You can enjoy yourself in Thailand, but you have to keep control of yourself and be aware that the Thais are not good at safety. They are very good at having fun and taking it easy, but not so good at driving, giving real medical care, doing emergency services, repairing airplanes, or warning people of danger.

Before you buy that ticket for a Thai airline, get on the internet and check out the ICAO safety rating of your prospective airline. Some Thai air carriers are unsafe.

When a tourist gets killed in Thailand the locals look at the event and wonder what the toursit must have done wrong in his or her past lives. That is how insoluble the safety problem is in Thailand. Thais don’t like to talk about bad things; they do not like to speak about things that can kill you. In fact, they think that talking about something bad will make it happen. It is all smiles. And that tourst who just got attacked, hurt, or killed, in the same place that you are thinking of going—do you think the local Thais are going to tell you about it, warn you?

The party atmosphere that is common to tourist areas creates situations that can result in people not coming home, and this is the worst problem. Yes, enjoy yourself, but keep your head clear and do not think that you are visiting the safest place on the planet. You cannot expect Thais to care about safety as most societies do in fully-developed countries.

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