In wake of airport closures, protest, political changes and the global economic downturn, the media has been full of article (like this) predicting tough times for Thailand's tourism industry, and the country in general.
The Telegraph found "Thailand topped the poll of affordable destinations, (the country) was found to be 41 per cent cheaper than Spain" and a host of other short-haul holiday choices (see below).
Also from the article "Andrew Spice, of Post Office Travel Services, said: "Despite its recent troubles, Thailand remains a great prospect for UK holidaymakers. The Thai baht may have strengthened against sterling but prices remain very low in the country and the discounts now available to top resorts like Phuket and Hua Hin will make Thailand unbeatable value."
Amen to this, I've spent a lot of time estimating the difference in cost of living between the UK and Thailand. Of course prices vary, with imported goods (baby care items, in my experience) being equal if not more expensive that Europe, but I would say that, for me, life Thailand is between a fifth and a quarter (20-25%) of the cost of living in the London.
Great news for holiday-makers but this isn't the same for expats. The majority of English-speakers here are are employed as teachers on (reasonably good) local salaries which are dwarfed but the equilivent in England (although there are exceptions).
Thailand is still good value for teachers, but not at the same level as tourists who find their hard-earned cash stretching incredibly far.
So here's to my continued hope that 2009 gives me a raft of freelance projects (at a UK rate of pay), keeping my fingers crossed for the opportunities in the pipeline.