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Travel, Teach, Live in Thailand

Is it Safe to Travel to Thailand?
By:Paula Westberg

Over the last six months, Thailand has reached the headlines across the globe. In November 2008, the "Yellow Shirts" held the International Airport at Bangkok under siege, and over the last few weeks, the country has faced another national emergency, when the "Red Shirts" decided to fight back with their protests in Bangkok. Yet, in many areas of Thailand, all seems peaceful and quiet, and there are no signs of these political protests. No sign that is, apart from the concern and worry of the locals, and the quieter bars, restaurants and hotels.

The issues behind these protests are complex, but to put it as simply as possible:

The Yellow Shirts (also known as The People's Alliance for Democracy or PADs), agree with the concept of democracy, but also feel that people need to have some understanding of the long term economic, social and political consequences of their vote. They believe that Thaksin used corruption to gain the vote of the majority population of the rural regions of Northern Thailand, on the lead up to the 2001 elections that made him prime minister.

The Red Shirts, however, see Thaksin more as a Robin Hood character, who took from the rich and gave to the poor. They believe they would be financially better off both in the short term and the long term under the rule of Thaksin. Now, Thaksin faces corruption charges, and an unelected party and prime minister are ruling their country. As a result, they feel cheated.

Who is right and who is wrong is not for discussion here. We are currently more concerned with the impact these struggles could have on the economy of Thailand and on the number of tourists who want to visit. When the first major protests began in November 2008, many holidaymakers cancelled their trip, and having just recovered from the impact of the Tsunami, many businesses in the tourism industry of Thailand faced yet another season of lowering tourist numbers. The fallout from this is wide spread. Entire families rely on the income delivered by tourism to survive.

As such a high proportion of the population in the tourist hotspots of Thailand survive on the income of tourism alone, the majority of the locals in these places want nothing but a peaceful resolution. They want foreigners to continue to regard Thailand as The Land of Smiles.

Whilst no one wishes to encourage you to walk into the middle of a conflict, I'm sure I'm speaking for the large majority when I ask you to consider the real impact of these struggles on your visit to Thailand. Neither the Reds nor the Yellows have an issue with tourists or expats, but if you are concerned about the recent troubles in Bangkok, I would like to highlight that you do not need to fly to Bangkok if you wish to visit Thailand. You can fly from Kuala Lumpur to Krabi, or fly direct into Phuket. From there you can go straight to your final holiday destination, where a warm welcome and a peaceful atmosphere awaits - just as tourists have grown to expect from Thailand - The Land of Smiles.

This article was written by Paula Westberg, manager of Lanta International Language School. LILS offers fast, fun and effective Thai Language Courses based on the latest findings in educational science. For more information about their courses or methods of teaching visit their website: http://www.effective-thai-language-classes.com

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