Elderly Western expats in Thailand have problems with government gizmo

Elderly Western expats in Thailand have problems with government gizmo

Elderly Western expats in Thailand have problems with government gizmo

Confusion reigns as Thailand’s elderly expats attempt to use the Thai government’s online answer to identifying and tracking coronavirus infections.

For the many fascinated online onlookers of semi-rural Thailand’s expat scene, it’s always been assumed that the older, mostly male international community had arrived for two reasons, sex and cheap booze. ‘Amazing Thailand’ was the buzz word and, for many, the experience was exactly that – amazing. Getting a glamorous, outwardly subservient and much younger Thai wife was the goal, or so it seemed.

Nowadays, long-term visitors and expatriates come from a totally different world and are far more likely to be digital nomads than lonely old men looking to reactivate their youth. Almost every Thai under the age of 65 owns a smartphone and seems to be using it 24/7. For older, retired expats brought up on blackboards and chalk, this essential new toy can be almost indecipherable but it’s cool to carry one just in case it’s needed. Also, one’s nearest and dearest must have the latest example or lose face amongst her community.

Unfortunately for this generation of Westerners, the advent of the coronavirus has now made possession of a smartphone almost mandatory should it be necessary to shop, either for food or for a gift for the also almost mandatory Thai wife. One local English language online newspaper located in Pattaya, a seaside town formerly known as ‘sin city’, reported recently on the woes of elderly expats attempting to use the government’s new toy, a website entitled Thai Chana which traces every shopper via his or her smartphone in order to be able to inform those in the mall at the same time as a coronavirus victim.

Should it be necessary, those at risk would be called and told to get a covid-19 test A.S.A.P. at a local, preferably private, hospital. The unfortunates must also undergo a 14 day quarantine and another test to prove they’re not infected. Given the average numbers of shoppers in the average Thai mall, local hospitals are likely to be overrun with hordes of panicking expats and locals. This being Thailand, the system isn’t working very well, as many elderly expats don’t carry a phone at all and many of those with smartphones aren’t sure how to work them.

The Pattaya media report told it like it is, especially noting those in the expat community who’d been asked to write their names and cellphone numbers down if they couldn’t figure out the website access or didn’t own a phone. Pontius Pilate and Adolf Hitler would seem to be preferred monikers, and the local pizza delivery guys should expect a large number of government-originated calls on their given numbers. Perhaps the original website should have included an explanatory English language version, but this is Thailand after all.

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