It only comes around once every four years, and as a huge football fan, I’m so excited that the World Cup is starting tonight. Despite the controversy, the fact it’s in Brazil makes it that little more special. The samba beats, the sights on Copacabana Beach, and those famous yellow shirts of the national team send a shiver of excitement up my spine as I think about what might happen over the next month. There’s just one problem…
I’m living in Thailand!!!
Why is this a problem? Let me explain.
Firstly, the games are on at crazy times, the most common being 11.00pm, 2.00am and 5.00am. There’s one game at 8.00am, but it’s Ivory Coast v Japan, so it’s not high on my list of must see games. I’m willing to stay up throughout the night in order to fulfil my enormous World Cup appetite. I’ll go to work the next day bleary eyed and cranky, yell at my students for no good reason, kick any dogs that come within 10 feet of me. I’ll get sleep when I can, and hopefully Sarah can do the right thing by me and look after Jack for most of the next month. But none of this matters anyway. Why?
There’s a midnight to 4.00am curfew!
Because of the military coup that took place a few weeks back there’s been a curfew in place. This means I can’t go to one of the many bars and restaurants around Chiang Mai showing the games on cable TV. It started out being 10.00pm-5.00am, but that stance has been softened slightly with the new curfew. So I can watch the start of the 11.00pm games, but not the end, and I miss the 2.00am games altogether. Thankfully I can watch the 5.00am games, including this weekend’s Australia v Chile clash which I’m very excited about. However, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has lifted the curfew in plenty of tourist hotspots around Thailand, especially the beachside resorts in the south. But Chiang Mai, despite tourists visiting and living here in huge numbers, remains under curfew. WTF?!?!
Even local TV is ruining it for me
What’s that I hear you say? Aren’t there any games on free-to-air TV? Why yes there are, but the strangest thing happened (you’ll have to forgive my lack of technical terminology here, but I’m no electrician). Our apartment is about 100m up a driveway from the road, and cables run from the electricity poles to our building where our driveway and the road meet. A couple of nights ago there was an explosion at the electrical box perched on top of these poles, causing our building and others in the area to blackout for a few hours. Once power was restored everything was working fine, except for one thing…the TV! No one in our building can get a signal, which means I can’t even watch the World Cup in my own apartment on the privately owned Channel 7, or military owned Channel 5 free-to-air stations. WTF?!?!
If I didn’t know any better I might start thinking someone is deliberately out to ensure I don’t watch a ball kicked in anger! Of course, it’s a little far fetched to suggest there was a military coup and exploding electricity boxes just so I can’t watch the beautiful game, but I’m not thinking straight at the moment.
Local businesses aren’t too happy either
There may be light at the end of the tunnel though. Local businesses are none to happy about the current situation. They are losing money with every night the curfew is in place. They have argued their case to the NCPO and there is a slight chance the curfew may be lifted in time for the opening game of the 2014 World Cup, Brazil v Croatia. I’m crossing every finger and toe, praying they see sense and allow the locals to gather at bars and restaurants across the city to watch the event that brings the whole world together.
Or management at our apartment building gets the TV situation fixed in the next couple of hours!
I really don’t care which comes first, but in my experience of living in Thailand for the past month, I’m not holding my breath on either.
For what it’s worth, I’m tipping a Brazil v Argentina final, with the home side lifting the Jules Rimet trophy on July 13. After the game, would someone mind telling me if my prediction came true? That would be greatly appreciated as I’m not sure my issues will be resolved by then.