In Thailand they have several jail-like institutions called Immigration Detention Centers. It’s a place where people who have overstayed their visas are detained. Among the immigrants detained are many UN recognized refugees and asylum seekers, as well as people who have gotten denied asylum or people coming to Thailand to work but don’t have the proper permits.
I visited the IDC in Bangkok yesterday. It was quite a chocking and haunting experience. I’ve never seen a place like that before… I barely know how to describe it.
After applying to visit a detainee we were all let in at 10.30 and had to go through a procedure of leaving our belongings and passports and go through metall detectors. The food we had brought for the detainees we were visiting had to be screened separately. In the “meeting room” which was more of an open area with a few fans, the visitors and the detainees were separated by two high fences about a meter apart. We had to shout to try to talk to them. It was crazy. And impossible to hear what they were saying.
At 11.30 we had all been asked to leave and the big blue doors had closed.
The oldest detainee I saw was well above 60 years old, the youngest was 11 months. Families (often whole families get arrested) only get to see each other once a month on family day or during visiting hour if they all get visitors the same day…
Keeping children locked up like that is against the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Can’t write much more about it now. Let’s just say I was surprised by how much the visit effected me. It’s good to know there are NGOs working on improving conditions in the IDC and help the refugees.
As you know, I just took my PADI open water diver certificate on Koh Samet, Thailand. It was’t really planned beforehand, I didn’t even know you could do scuba diving on Koh Samet. It was my brother who had looked it up and I thought why not? I had the time and was healthy, let’s do it. So we went to one of the offices on the beach and asked if they had scuba diving courses. We got the number to a mr. Mong. A couple of hours later we had decided on a price (a bit more expensive than in other places in Thailand, but still cheap compare to the rest of the world) and that we would start two days later.
We got an online activation card and could do our reading on the PADI online elearning site. Very convenient if it hadn’t been for the fact that we couldn’t access the book/info from ipads. So I read on my computer and told my sister and brother about the information they needed to know.
First day at the diving course we did the first few chapters and then learned about the equipment. Second day we get to dive for the first time. Such an amazing feeling! We kept on shallow water since it was confined water dives. Learned all the skills there and then on day three and four we had two open water dives.
The course was very good. It was only me, my sister and brother on one instructor and one or two assistants. It felt like we could move along in a pace that fitted us right and it never felt stressed.
All in all I can recommend the diving at Koh Samed resort with Mr. Mong. A bit expensive, not the best dive sites, but a good course. I feel prepared to join tours diving somewhere else very soon.