Daily Phuket #41: 17 April 2021 – Beer Sound

Saturday, 17 April. The last day in a while when everything was more or less open as normal. That will all change starting at midnight here in Phuket and at least 17 other “red zone” provinces throughout Thailand. I took the opportunity to retrieve and deposit my Thai tax refund check (amounted to around US $60) and get a bit of shopping done. It had been announced yesterday that all “educational institutions” (including offices such as the one our agency manages its teachers from) are to close effective tomorrow. Last night, it was announced that these schools would remain closed until 30 April but while I was at our office this morning, the branch manager told me that now the government was saying “until the end of May”. Shades of 2020, indeed.

I was quite pleased that I got some banking business done today as just a few minutes ago the government announced that they were forcing banks to close as well. Taking care of my tax refund turned out to be a bit of an ordeal — you need to take a document to one specific bank (you cannot simply go to a bank where you have an account as they cannot do anything) and a foreigner must have their passport and tax ID card (luckily, this was one of the print-outs my office gave me when I requested proof of income in order to file my U.S. tax return last month). However, the lady who assisted me at the bank (I did not have an account there) was very helpful — the best customer service I have experienced in more than 16 years living here. After a lot of paperwork, I was given a money card which I can use to withdraw my refund anytime within the next five years. She told me that next year, I can just bring my passport and the money card and the entire process will take less than five minutes. It was a lot of work for 1900 baht but was happy to get it done.

The mall was very quiet and even McDonald’s only had one customer when I passed by. However, Old Town Phuket was quite crowded with people taking selfies or just wandering around aimlessly. It seemed like any other high-season Saturday afternoon as I was making my way home down Thalang Road.

Today’s photo is of Beer Sound, a restaurant and bar that opened on 8 April on Thepkassatri Road near the old bank and clocktower building. This is the former Rasta Bar which was one of only two places in Phuket Town that I used to hang out with my friends during the Sunday evening walking street events. I was a bit sad when it closed last year in the midst of the lockdown bar closures and really felt that it would never reopen. I fear it will have to close with the new restrictions starting tonight but, hopefully, the restaurant portion can remain open. While pubs and bars will be forced to close, restaurants just will be unable to serve alcohol.

Other than that, most other businesses can stay open during daytime hours. Like last year, convenience stores will have a closing time of 11 pm (and open 4 am each morning). I believe shopping malls will close at 9pm as will gyms. It was one year ago yesterday that they instituted the tambon (local municipalities) lockdown during which you could not travel outside of your own local area without special permission. In my case, I could not cross to the other side of the road without police questioning me. Thankfully, nobody has mentioned a repeat of this idea… yet. Also, the governor insists that the province will remain open although all the existing cases are the result of a infected person or persons flying here from Bangkok. We had more daily cases during the latter part of the week than in the entire first year of the pandemic!

Anyway, I do need to visit the Immigration office no later than Tuesday for my 90-days notification. I’ve been doing this online for a year but now the website doesn’t work (it’s been “Under Maintenance” for nearly three months now) and am not relishing going and sitting in the waiting room there but it must be done. After that, I will probably stay at home most days. I still would like to get to the park and/or the beach at some point during my holiday but I am not sure if that is such a good idea at this point. Time will tell….

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