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Cablegate: Staffdel Blank Information for Thailand (Sep 3-6)

VZCZCXRO3228
PP RUEHAT
DE RUEHBK #2181/01 2400848
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280848Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8102
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 5755
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 6616
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1866
RUEHAT/AMCONSUL AMSTERDAM 0008

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002181

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OREP AMGT ASEC AFIN TH
SUBJECT: STAFFDEL BLANK INFORMATION FOR THAILAND (SEP 3-6)

REF: STATE 87427

1. Post welcomes Jonah Blank from September 3 to September
6, 2009.

2. Hotel reservations for September 3-4 have been made at:

-- Four Seasons Hotel, 155 Rajadamri Road
Tel: 66-2-251-6127
Fax: 66-2-254-5390

Room rate is USD 145 (taxes and American breakfast included)
and is within per diem (lodging $146, M&IE - $72).

Hotel reservations for September 5 have been made at:

-- Novotel Centara Hat Yai
3 Sanehanusorn Rd
Songkhla
90110 Hat Yai
Tel: 66-74-352222
Fax: 66-74-352240

Room Rate is Baht 1,750 (USD 51.50) net (taxes and American
breakfast included) and within per diem.


3. Embassy point of contact is:

Name: Brent Soderborg
Work phone: (66-2) 205-4754
Cell phone: (66-8) 1173-1729
Unclass E-mail Address: SoderborgBB@state.gov

After-hours emergency number for the Embassy is (66-2)
205-4108.

4. Embassy POC will meet STAFFDEL at Suvannaphoum Airport
and accompany to hotel. POC will also provide per diem for
STAFFDEL upon arrival.

5. Thai immigration law requires a visa for those traveling
to Thailand on official and diplomatic passports. Thus, post
strongly recommends that TDY travelers obtain an official
visa before traveling. Even though the visa requirement for
official and diplomatic visitors is almost never enforced by
Thai immigration authorities, U.S. airlines have in a few
recent instances refused to allow TDY'ers traveling to
Thailand on official or diplomatic passports to board their
flight without a Thai visa. The airlines have every right to
do this since they are liable for a passenger's return
airfare if immigration authorities in Thailand decide to
refuse entry to those who do not posses the required visa
upon arrival. U.S. citizens traveling to Thailand on tourist
passports who are planning to stay in country for fewer than
30 days do not require a visa and are granted a 30-day entry
permit at the airport upon arrival. While, in practice, this
is also done regularly for travelers on official and
diplomatic passports, there is no guarantee that this is in
fact what will happen if you are traveling on an official or
diplomatic passport and arrive in country without a visa. It
should also be kept in mind that even if you are granted a
30-day entry permit upon arrival, it is extremely difficult
to extend the 30-day entry permit upon arrival, it is
extremely difficult to extend the 30-day entry permit if that
is later necessary. Furthermore, fines for overstays beyond
30 days are costly.

6. SECURITY INFORMATION

-----------
A. CRIME:
-----------

-- Crime is generally non-confrontational in nature.
Criminal acts are usually crimes of opportunity such as
purse-snatchings, thefts of unattended property, and pick
pocketing. Visitors should be especially alert in crowded
buses, streets, and markets or while on "tuk-tuks." Visitors
should lock valuables in hotel safe deposit boxes not in
their hotel rooms.

-- Be aware of common scams and frauds (including credit
cards, in particular). Visitors should only use credit cards
at well-established and reputable businesses. Visitors
should be careful when purchasing branded or copyrighted
goods. There are many pirated counterfeit products in the
marketplace; their purchase is against post regulations and
it is illegal to import these products into the U.S. Be wary
of common scams for jewelry, suits, silks, gems, or

BANGKOK 00002181 002 OF 002


antiquities. There are no Thai government-owned or sponsored
gem stores. If victimized, seek assistance from Tourist
Police by dialing 1155.

-- Visitors are cautioned from visiting bars involved in the
sex trade. Many of these operate illegally and clients can
be subject to RTG law; they often charge exorbitant drink
prices and cover charges. There are also many incidents of
crime against patrons in these establishments. Drugging and
robbing of unwary individuals is not uncommon. There are
sporadic reports of victims being drugged and robbed or
beaten when visiting these bars. The drugs used can cause
serious temporary memory impairment, unconsciousness, and if
overdosed, death.

-------------
B. TRAFFIC:
-------------

-- The traffic situation in Bangkok can be difficult and
dangerous for both pedestrians and vehicle occupants. All
visitors should be alert to traffic patterns and unexpected
motorcycle drivers. Traffic drives on the left-hand side,
opposite from the U.S., although there may be a bus lane that
flows in the opposite direction. Pedestrians should use the
overhead walkways for crossing busy streets.

--------------
C. TERRORISM:
--------------

-- The threat from transnational terrorist groups to the
U.S. Mission in Bangkok is currently ranked medium. Despite
stepped up RTG efforts to monitor its borders, they remain
relatively porous and allow easy illegal access.
Transnational terrorist groups, including Al-Qa'ida and
Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), have utilized Thailand as a transit
point.

-- The threat from indigenous terrorist groups is currently
rated as low. There is no evidence to indicate that
indigenous terrorist groups are planning acts against U.S.
personnel or facilities. The far south of Thailand has
experienced incidents of criminally and politically motivated
violence, including incidents attributed to armed local
Muslim separatist groups. Although Americans have not been
specifically targeted in the past, the indiscriminate nature
of past attacks by these groups -- including bombings of
public places -- indicates a potential threat to American
citizens.

-- The State Department is concerned that there is an
increased risk of terrorism in Southeast Asia, including
Thailand. Travelers to Thailand should therefore exercise
caution, especially in locations where Westerners congregate,
such as clubs, discos, bars, restaurants, hotels, tourist
areas, and other places frequented by foreigners.

------------------------
D. OTHER SECURITY TIPS:
------------------------

-- Visitors should avoid making any pejorative comments
about any members of the Thai Royal Family or engaging in
disrespectful conduct within temples or toward religious
objects. Such behavior can result in arrest and/or expulsion
from Thailand.

-- Precautions should also be taken not to discuss sensitive
or classified matters outside secure environments or over
unsecured and/or cellular telephones, and to securely
safeguard classified or sensitive materials at the Chancery
and not at hotels or residences.

-- Visitors should also review the State Department's
Consular Information Sheet for Thailand and the most recent
Worldwide Caution Public Announcements, which are available
via the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. DOD personnel
must review the PACOM Force Protection Levels for Thailand
found at http://131.84.1.218/staff/at/athome.shtml.

-- In essence, visitors to Bangkok must exercise appropriate
caution and be alert to their surroundings with regard to
their personal security. Suspicious incidents/activities
should be reported to RSO Bangkok (tel. 02-205-4000, 24
hrs/day). On behalf of US Embassy Bangkok, we hope you have
a safe and pleasant visit.
JOHN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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