The One Book You Shouldn’t Carry In Thailand
Apparently, it’s a bad idea to read 1984 in Thailand.
If you’re heading to Bangkok, leave your George Orwell at home.
An in-flight magazine for the Philippines Airlines recently published its 5 tips for traveling to Thailand. The article says, “Despite being under military control, Thailand is very safe for tourists. If you want to blend in, try these for good measure.”
In addition to offering advice about passports and selfies with soldiers, the magazine says, “Don’t carry George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984. You don’t want to be mistaken for an ‘anti-coup protestor.”
According to The Daily Mail, 1984 has reportedly been banned in Thailand. The novel has become a symbol of rebellion against the current regime, who seized power in a coup during May. Protestors have organized silent readings of the novel, and one man was dragged away and arrested by six police officers while reading 1984 outside a Bangkok mall.
The U.S. State Department doesn’t specifically mention the book in its alert about travel to Thailand, but it does say that “Individuals—including foreigners—may be detained for publicly criticizing Thailand’s current political environment, the National Council for Peace and Order, or the monarchy.”
And, apparently, the current political environment isn’t a big fan of George Orwell.
Can any Thai citizens or recent tourists share your experiences? Is there a sense of fear?