May 31st 2014
We've been posting regular news articles about the recent coup over the last week onto our facebook page, in order to get the message out there that there really is nothing to worry about for people thinking of coming to Thailand. Life is continuing as if nothing has happened, especially on Koh Tao- no curfew, no army, nothing. Even in Bangkok the only real difference is that there are a few soldiers on the street, and that a curfew has been in place between 9pm and 5am. But even that has now been relaxed to midnight until 4am. Apart from that, anyone coming to Thailand would have no idea that anything was happening at all. Many tourists are now getting their photos taken with soldiers, who seem more than happy to oblige them!
The problem is that once something like a coup gets out to the worldwide media, panic mode is activated, with national media and Governments warning their citizens not to travel here. Completely understandable if it happened in a country like Zimbabwe, but coups in Thailand seem to happen pretty regularly, and always very peacefully.
It has gotten a little quieter on Koh Tao, but it's quiet season anyway until July. We are still teaching a lot of people how to dive that are having a great time regardless. Very few of our customers have even asked about the coup, because they can see that nothing has changed. In fact, there are actually advantages to what's going on at the moment, flights to Thailand and hotels are massively discounted! So you could have the holiday that you planned to do anyway, but now it will cost you a hell of a lot less!
So please don't allow yourself to be scared off by the news in Europe and America. The reality is very different. Governments obviously need to be seen to give advice to their citizens, even though it is (especially here) being overly conservative advice.
Get yourself over to Thailand as planned, and don't bother spending time in Bangkok, come straight down to Koh Tao and get diving!
Motorbikes more dangerous than any coup
Regardless of what's going on in Thailand at the moment, and people's perception of the danger they think they may be under, the reality is very different. The main hazard faced by people coming to Koh Tao is motorbikes. Motorbike crashes happen a lot here, and they are almost always tourists who rented one and had no idea how to ride them, or were just drunk at the time. Both not very good ideas. Thais have a very different attitude to riding a motorbike than westerners- they don't look right when turning left at a junction, and drive pretty erratically. Unfortunately, westerners seem to copy this approach too.
The worst culprits are the boy racers that drive around like nutters all day because they have experience of riding bikes and know there are no speed limits being enforced. Sadly these are also exactly the type of people to go out, get really drunk, and then crash.
Then there are people who've never even sat on a bike that hand their passport in and suddenly have possession of a machine that they have no idea how to ride. It seems easy as most bikes are full automatic- throttle and brakes. But they have no control, and zero understanding of the danger of sand on the road. Usually they ride a lot slower though so most crashes cause superficial injuries and just hurt the wallet.. a lot!
So please be sensible, don't even think about getting on a bike here in Koh Tao. You can easily walk most places or get a taxi.