Shopping mall experience by Anniina

Shopping mall experience by Anniina
Anniina is a Phuket long-term resident giving us a weekly dose of Thai life. Read from her weekly blog what's going on in the land of smiles.

Anniina's Blog

On Sunday 24th of May, another step was taken towards easing the lockdown by opening shopping malls. As in Europe, many Thais have their dayoffs on the weekend, and then the urban citizen heads to the shopping malls to ‘kin air’ (directly translated “eat air”, which means hanging out in an air-conditioned space without any specific agenda. When you meet friends, you rarely ask ‘what’s up?’ and ask instead ‘have you eaten?’, which here is exactly the same thing and food courts and restaurants are packed full on weekends.

Phuket’s largest and most popular shopping mall is Central Festival Floresta, which currently offers everything from luxury boutiques to the largest aquarium in Thailand. Due to the epidemic Central was also closed for a long time and when it finally opened we ended up seeing what that ‘new normal’ looks and feels like.

The use of a mask is a mandatory requirement when going outdoors and failure to use it is punishable. Store entrances still kindly remind us of the ‘no mask, no entry’ policy. It is a known fact that the mask doesn’t protect the from nanomillimeter sized particles of the virus but we live here in a reality where arguments like this resonate with deaf ears. We have also read news of situations where feelings of the requirements to wear a mask are heating up; An angry customer broke a coffee cup on the head of a police officer, so sometimes even an Asian feels his individual freedom is limited. The reality, however, is that masks are already a fashion phenomenon and will remain in the picture for a long time.

Shopping mall thailand

Fever is measured at the entrances to all premises. The non-contact digital thermometer must display less than 37.5 degrees for successful access. If the figure is exceeded, the first step is to remove the thermometer batteries, and re-measurement usually causes the situation to proceed normally. Hand disinfectant is next and they work on foot pedal, which was developed a while ago. In Bangkok malls they have also developed a foot pedal for ordering the elevators.

The latest phenomenon to prevent and control the spread of the virus is to register with the Thai Chana site with a QR code. The codes have options in both Thai and English. If, for example, an employee has fallen ill in a shop, monitoring can be used to contact those customers who may have been exposed to the virus. After registration, the data remain in the register for 60 days, although the incubation period is known to be only 14 days. If you do not have a telephone, you will log in manually by entering your name, telephone number and in some cases also your passport information. This book is done using a single commonly used pen that is reportedly disinfected repeatedly.

Once the mandatory entry requirements are met, everything inside the mall seems normal, for a moment. There are lots of people on the move and some stores have queues. When I stop to look at some sunglasses, I am kindly informed that the capacity of the store is full so I move away from the open store front.

“Back to normal” gets another bump when I want to get inside the next store with the same process ahead as at the mall entrance. I give up. Normally I would go for lunch at one of my favorite restaurants but when I see taped crosses on the tables that I can’t even sit face to face with my spouse, I give it up too.

However, another place we still decide to visit is the sports shop. The entrance process is easier than in the mall entrance and therefore feels much better, more normal. The large retail space is full of customers. Every single department is buzzing with people exploring a variety of products and fitting rooms are full. There are a lot of families, the children play loud and the atmosphere is light and lively. Even for myself, doing sports has given some structure to the days and making them a lot more enjoyable, so I fully understand why we are all at the sports store. I do my little shopping in a wonderfully normal way. However, after the first ‘new normal’ experience, there’s a bit of an empty feeling so I decide it’s time to head home to wait for the beaches and nature parks to open again sometime soon.

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