- Thailand’s notorious bars have been left empty with many fearing alcohol sales could be banned for 30 days
- October is normally the beginning of Thailand‘s high season attracting 3 million tourists to famous nightlife
- King Bhumibol Adulyadej, world’s longest-reigning monarch, passed away at 88 on Thursday after ill health
- Mourners dressed in black were jammed cheek by jowl alongside roadsides – with some fainting in the heat
It was the night they (almost) turned out the lights and silenced infamous Walking Street in Pattaya, which has the reputation as the liveliest and most outrageous nightlife strip in Asia.
New curbs on loud music and public entertainment industry were imposed by the Thai authorities in the aftermath of the death this week of King Bhumibol Adulyadej who had been on the throne for 70 years .
A one year mourning period for the 88-year-old monarch has been decreed and many Thais – and tourists – are dressing in black.
People have been urged to refrain from organising entertainment events for a month and Bangkok’s ladyboys join the thousands mourning.
But it has not come as good news for tourists who wanted to enjoy themselves on holiday and see the country’s famous nightlife.
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Pattaya’s nightlife hub did not completely shut on Friday night but the mood was deeply subdued
October is normally the beginning of Thailand’s high season with up to three million tourists arriving in a single month – many heading to its bars and red-light districts.
Liam Pearce, 23, a steel erector and welder from Wrexham, North Wales, is due to fly to Thailand next Thursday for two weeks.
He said: ‘It couldn’t have happened at a worse time.
‘I’ve already booked the flights, paid for hotels and changed money so there’s no chance of changing it.
‘My friends are out there already and they said the only places open at night are pharmacies. That’s hardly going to be much fun.’
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised: ‘Access to entertainment, including restaurants, bars, and shopping areas may be restricted and you should behave respectfully when in public areas.’
For the next 30 days Australia’s Foreign Ministry added: ‘Refrain from any behaviour that may be interpreted as festive, disrespectful or disorderly.’
Anyone who insults the King or monarchy can be punished with up to 15 years in prison.
Most noticeable was the total absence of the usual wall of noise from thudding music in nightclubs
It is normally a throbbing resort of tourists from all over the world and on average £3million arrive in October
While several entire Bangkok red light zones with go-go bars – usually packed with scantily-clad women – were reported totally closed out of respect to the dead king, throbbing resort Pattaya’s nightlife hub did not completely shut on Friday night, according to reporter Will Stewart, even though the mood was deeply subdued.
Many bars normally packed with young Thai women and foreign men on Walking Street were completely deserted.
Others had a few customers and contrary to speculation, they were permitted to serve alcohol, but the strip, almost a mile long, normally heaving with tourists, was half empty at midnight, a shadow of its usual itself.
Most noticeable was the total absence of the usual wall of noise from thudding music in nightclubs and more than 100 beer bars, in obedience to the edict from the country’s military government.
All but a handful of the garish neon lights on the 30-plus notorious go-go bars were dimmed, and many were closed altogether, a remarkable sight in a city that prides itself as a brash all-year entertainment capital.
Certainly there were no visible displays of pole dancers on the street.
Restaurants could keep their signs lit but in the main night clubs and those displaying female flesh switched off their neon.
Some go-go bars like G-Spot were bathed in darkness and looked closed, but in fact behind doorway curtains were open for business and welcoming punters, even though the usual throng of tourists and locals was far smaller than on a typical night.
Inside this and several similar establishments, local women writhed mechanically on stage in skimpy clothing, an indication that despite the dimmed lights and distinctly low volume music, business must go on.
Yet the ghostly silence out on the street showed the tourist mecca more restrained than for decades.
Visitors including sex tourists flock here from Europe, America, Russia, India and increasingly China, but this wasn’t a night like any other.
A bar aptly called King has long exhibited the sign: Good guys go to heaven; Bad guys go to Pattaya.
It was open on Friday night, and serving beer, but far from full of the usual ‘bad guys’.
Sugar Baby Ago-go club was one of many that closed entirely in respect of the late monarch, who united Thais as a unifying force in this country of 67 million people.
But areas like Walking Street are also an integral part of Pattaya’s tourism scene
The neon lights were also switched off at Alcatraz, Fahrenheit and Pewppermint amid an eerie emptiness in a pedestrian street normally chock-full with thronging tourists from around the world.
Living Dolls had its metal security canopy pulled down over its entrance.
The doors at nightspot Red Square, usually a magnet for Russian tourists, were open but the place looked dark and deserted.
Another venue Crazy Russian Girls was also closed.
The so-called Royal massage parlour was open but with little sign of its normal brisk business.
It looked much the same at the nearby ‘Palace’ massage parlour.
‘It’s the quietest night I can remember,’ confirmed one of the masseurs.
‘We have to work, we need the money, but people want to pay their respect to the King.’
Women working in the bars and clubs on Walking Street have been identified by human rights groups as victims of sexual exploitation. Many come from impoverished villages in provincial Thailand.
But it is also an integral part of Pattaya’s tourism scene, and attempts to change it or ‘clean it up’ have always foundered.
People walk past Bangkokís Nana Plaza red-light district, after it closed down temporarily following the death Thursday of Thailandís 88-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was the world’s longest reigning monarch
Concerts and colossal beach parties in Thailand have been canceled and many seedy go-go bars are closed
Tourists have been left disappointed that instead of enjoying Thailand’s High Season which normally starts in October attracting three million tourists, everything is closed
Bangkok’s strip bars and brothels have been ordered to close after King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death. There are fears alcohol sales could be banned for up to 30 days
At midnight in one bar, clients were told their wine would be poured into soft drink glasses.
‘In case the soldiers come in to check,’ said a waitress.
But an assumption that alcohol sales would be forbidden in the aftermath of the monarch’s death did not prove correct.
‘The clubs are being respectful,’ said a policeman on duty the street. ‘It’s much calmer than normal. Still, tourists will find what they want but it’s not all in your face.’
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has indicated that life must go on, and businesses should remain open so Thailand does not ‘lose its credibility’.
Mourners sat for hours in Bangkok’s urban heat awaiting the passage of his motorcade, in scenes reminiscent of religious devotees
Thai royal guards stand in position after the body of the late king arrives at Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall inside the Grand Palace in Bangkok
Thai Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, (second left) the late king’s son, and Princess Sirindhorn (right) arrive at Grand Palace before presiding over a Buddhist funeral rite at a hall inside the Grand Palace
Thai royal officials in ancient costume prepare for the royal bathing ceremony. Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, passed away at 88 on Thursday after years of ill health
Thailand’s government said that a regent will be the caretaker of the monarchy while the country mourns the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The crowds lining outside since dawn outside the Grand Palace on Saturday were subdued and orderly despite the swelling numbers. People shared food and handed each other water and wet towels to cope with the Southeast Asian heat. Around midmorning, police announced the palace was closed for seven days. Still, most people waiting remained outside and authorities soon announced entry would be allowed into the palace’s Sala Sahathai Samakhom Hall as a place to pay respects for limited hours in the afternoon.
The government on Thursday unexpectedly announced that the heir apparent, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, 64, did not want to be immediately named king to give the nation time to mourn his father’s death.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam appeared on television Friday evening to specifically explain that the head of the Privy Council, which is an advisory body to the King, is automatically the regent until a new monarch is crowned.
Mourners pray before offering alms to Buddhist monks during a ceremony to pay respects to the late Thai King
Many Thai woman have been seen crying, some uncontrollably, as the country goes into a year’s morning with many activities closed for the next month
Buddhist monks pray for the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Thailand’s southern province of Narathiwat on Saturday
There was no official statement that the council’s head, 96-year-old Prem Tinsulanonda, had been named regent, creating uncertainty, but Wissanu said an announcement wasn’t needed because the process is mandated by Thailand’s Constitution. Prem, a former prime minister, was one of Bhumibol’s principal confidants and has ties to Bhumibol’s popular daughter, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
For ordinary Thais, the overwhelming focus was on grieving for Bhumibol, not the succession.
‘I haven’t even started to think about that, I’m still in mourning over the king,’ said Rakchadaporn Unnankad, a 24-year-old Bangkok office worker.
‘I left home at 6 a.m to come here,’ she said. ‘We were queuing for so long before they told us that we can’t go inside the palace. There were people who have been here since 4-5 a.m,’ she said.
‘My tears started flowing out of me without my realizing,’ she said, recalling the news of Bhumibol’s death. ‘I didn’t even want to hear the announcement.’
Buddhist funeral ceremonies began at the Grand Palace on Friday after a royal motorcade led by a van carrying Bhumibol’s body and monks drove to the palace from nearby Siriraj Hospital, where the king died Thursday aged 88.
People sat four to five rows deep on both sides of the road, sobbing openly and bowing as the convoy passed. Most held portraits of the king in regal yellow robes. Some pulled currency notes from their wallets: all bank notes carry the king’s face. Many had camped 24 hours since Thursday.
Bhumibol’s death after 70 years on the throne was a momentous event in Thailand, where the monarch has been glorified as an anchor for a fractious society that for decades has been turned on its head by frequent coups. Thailand suffered particularly intense political turmoil in the past 10 years that pitted arch-royalists against forces that sought a redistribution of economic and political power and were allied with Thaksin Shinawatra, a populist premier ousted in a 2006 coup.
Mourners gather outside of the Grand Palace, some from very early this morning, to pay respects despite announcements that it is closed
Despite its closure many stayed to pray together after their monarch’s death on Thursday
Thai military guards on duty march outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok
Thai people line up to pay their respects to King Bhumibol Adulyadej during a memorial at Wat Thai Temple in the North Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Friday
Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, passed away at 88, after years of ill health, ending seven decades as a stabilising figure in a nation of deep political divisions
But in recent years, Bhumibol had suffered from a variety of illnesses and seemed far removed from the upheavals of Thai politics, including the 2014 coup that brought Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, an army general, to power.
‘His death means that the Thai political system must find an alternative focal point around which to unite the country’s factionalized population,’ said Tom Pepinsky, a Southeast Asia expert at Cornell University.
He said one challenge that royalists will face is the possibility that the monarchy’s popularity would be undermined by the crowning of Vajiralongkorn, who does not command the same respect his father did.
Another mourner, Suchart Warachawanwanich, added it was ‘appropriate’ to not immediately accept the crown and let the nation grieve first.
A one-year mourning period for the government has been declared together with a 30-day moratorium on state and official events. But no substantial demands have been made of the private sector.
The government has only urged people to refrain from organizing entertainment events for a month, apparently mindful of the need to ensure that the sputtering economy, which relies heavily on tourism, does not suffer too much.
Men and women dressed in black were jammed cheek by jowl outside the Grand Palce, where King Bhumibol’s body was taken on Friday
Government offices and state-run enterprises were closed out of respect, but commercial activity otherwise carried on as normal
October is normally the beginning of Thailand’s high season with up to three million tourists arriving in a single month – many heading to its bars and red light districts
Women wearing black carry portraits of the late monarch, who many Thai people saw as a guarantor of political stability
A Thai official measures the size of a frame at the Police Headquarters. The new portrait of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, the heir to King Bhumibol, did not fit inside
The King ruled 70 years and was the only monarch most Thai people knew. ‘We no longer have him,’ wept Phongsri Chompoonuch, 77
When his death was first announced mourners sat for hours in Bangkok’s urban heat awaiting the passage of his motorcade, in scenes reminiscent of religious devotees.
Some fainted and were carried away on stretchers, while others shouted ‘King of the people!’ as the convoy slowly wheeled through hushed streets.
For some Thais King Bhumibol Adulyadej was the only monarch they knew.
‘We no longer have him,’ wept Phongsri Chompoonuch, 77, as she clutched the late monarch’s portrait.
‘I don’t know whether I can accept that. I fear, because I don’t know what will come next.’
At the palace, the crown prince presided over the bathing of the King’s body, a traditional Buddhist funeral rite and the start of official mourning.
This will include at least 100 days of chanting by monks and months more of palace rituals.
His reign saw decades of rapid economic development but also frequent military coups that set back democracy.
A well-wisher dries her tears with a handkerchief as a convoy of vehicles carrying the King’s body arrives at the Grand Palace
A Thai woman living in Malaysia pays her respects at a temple in Kuala Lumpur
A Thai Army Honor Guard marches into the Grand Palace on the first day of mourning. This period of remembrance could last for 30 days
Bhumibol was seen as a pillar of stability during his politically turbulent reign, and many Thais are uncertain his son can exercise the same calming authority
His reign saw decades of rapid economic development but also frequent military coups that set back democracy.
Although the King approved most of the army’s many successful coups, he also sometimes intervened to quell political violence, and his loss worries many Thais.
‘Now I am afraid of what may happen, about the administration of the country, the type of regime in the long term,’ said Arnon Sangwiman, a 54-year-old electricity company employee.
Authorities continued to interrupt all television programming in the country – including the BBC – to broadcast scenes from the King’s life.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3838931/Bangkok-grinds-halt-thousands-mourners-line-streets-mark-passing-Thai-king-British-tourists-complain-news-red-light-district-shut-MONTH.html#ixzz4NA2wRSNb
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