Thailand Covid story
The impact of Covid on Thai society will be undermined by official numbers. While tourism has generated 20% of GDP the lack of it affected millions of people whose incomes relied entirely on tourists. Whether it was a girl in a bar, waitress, cook, masseuse, maid, guard, taxi driver, all of those people traveled from far away provinces to the touristic hubs to provide for their families. Their worlds have collapsed in pieces within few weeks with no prospects to get back to normal.
I wanted to draw attention of the viewers to what’s happening in Thailand since it was such a dream destination for so many foreigners. I’d like them to realize that the paradise they used to visit is turning into a nightmare for so many people they met here.
To understand the phenomena and uniqueness of those images one needs to get a context. While everywhere in the world Covid has generated an unprecedented form of abandonment, in Thailand it has its own story. Thais, while reasonable and very responsive to endangerment, have their own way of dealing with things. The wisdom of people who make a quick calculation of dos and donts, who take their safety seriously but also consider their chance of survival.
That results in just semi abandoned streets or street food stalls still being open, public transport half busy, markets being open and people living their lives as much as they can under circumstances.
With all this in mind I went to Bangkok to see how usually unbearably busy Chinatown and Khao San area with its small communities are handling the crisis.
I also visited one of my favorite photographic spot. It's a rest station along the highway 7. With its enormous size (the length of the parking space takes around 500meters) with thousands of cars, trucks and buses pulling in and out around the clock, hosting every kind of restaurants, bars and coffee shops from Starbucks and McDonald through
Thai brands to privately owned restaurants mastered in Thai delicacies run by three generation families usually living on the spot or at the nearby villages.
Last stop was Pattaya. When American soldiers came here for the first time during Vietnam war they’ve settled in and made it their own escape calling it R&R which stands for Rest and Relax. Since then Pattaya only goal was to welcome all kind of travelers to stunning beaches and extravagant night life.
As the demand increased for such a paradise destination it grew into a multi-layer cake of fulfilling everybody’s needs. Its a midsize town hosting 5 star hotels of international brands down to shady motels and b&bs. All of it to host up to 10 million visitors yearly! And now they’re gone. Following that hundred of thousands of people lost their jobs in hospitality and restaurant business, among them close to 50 thousand bar workers. To better understand it one have to see that Pattaya only purpose was since the beginning accommodating people. Without them its a ghost town. It is a striking image and every picture I took reminded me of all those people who had to leave, how they’re going to survive.
I worked on this series with a deep sympathy and concern that I have towards Thai people. Throughout my time being here. I am grateful for every day here, for how I felt welcomed, how much love and support and understanding I’ve been offered on daily basis. So many westerners have visited Thailand and look at it as a simple paradise of happy people. So many tourists found their dream destination here indulging themselves with nature and food. This is a good time to realize there are people left behind, empty hotels, restaurants, food stalls, and there is a story behind every lost job.
I hope these photographs make people aware of a story left behind.
All the pictures have been taken all precautions and responsibility, many of them from the passenger seat of the car, some directly on the street with the respect for social distancing rules.