On Sunday 17 May, Thailand moved into the second phase easing restrictions. Something everyone was waiting for, the mall.
To regulate social distancing, the government launched www.ไทยชนะ.com, (Thai Chana) or “Thailand Wins,” named after General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s famous ending phase every time he gives a speech, “Thailand must win!”
On Saturday, I read about Thai Chana from several different sources to try to make sense of it. Some called it a website, some called it an application, some called it both a website and an application.
I went to the iOS App Store and tried to download it – nothing. I thought, maybe it might become available on Sunday, 6am.
Come Sunday morning, I woke up at 6am. Admittedly, I wanted to be among the first to download, because it might crash, like the No One Left Behind website. But still, nothing on my iPhone’s App Store.
At this point, I still wasn’t sure whether Thai Chana was a website or an application.
Never mind, I thought. I’ll just wing it and show up at the mall and figure it out over there.
I took the BTS and arrived at Siam Paragon just a little bit before 11am, the opening time. People were queuing outside in the sun. I joined in.
There were staff holding the Thai Chana QR code for people to scan before entering. This was when I finally found out what Thai Cha Na was supposed to be.
I used my phone camera to scan the QR code and it sent me to qr.thaichana.com.
All shoppers must scan the QR code to check in, so the government may keep track of you.
Some malls allow you to just write down your names and phone numbers on a sheet of paper.
But if you’re to enter a shop, like a Uniqlo, inside the mall, you would still have to scan the QR code anyway.
In fact, walking in and out of every shop means to check in and check out with Thai Chana every time.
On your first scan, Thai Chana will ask for you to give consent to the Ministry of Public Health and all those committees under it, to have access to your phone number, your location and the time period you’re there.
I clicked Accept, in order to move forward.
Once I was through the door, I was given hand sanitizer, then I had to walk through a sanitizer machine that sprayed fog on my shoes. After which, I got my temperature scanned by a camera.
Once you’ve passed all the tests, then congratulations, you will be greeted by mall staff, wai-ing you. You’re free to roam around.
When I left Siam Paragon, I had to scan the QR code once again, to check-out.
Thai Chana told me how long I was inside the mall for, then sent me to a questionnaire page to rate my experience. I was advised by a staff member that I could just scroll down to the bottom of the page and skip it.
So I did.
I then walked to Siam Center nearby, because I had to get something from Sephora. Again, I had to go through Thai Chana.
Some shops inside the mall were still closed, like the organic skincare brand, Lush, which put up barriers and a sign that they would be back on 22 May.
Before entering Sephora, I had to scan another QR code, which was specifically for the shop, get my temperature checked once again and another drop of hand sanitizer.
It’s the same routine entering every shop. QR code scanned. Sanitizer squeezed. Temperature checked. All staff members were wearing face shields.
At Sephora, normally product testers are available. But not today, and likely not for a long time to come.
I stopped to grab food with a friend at one restaurant in CentralWorld later.
I went through the same routine to enter the mall, however, there was no QR code or temperature check at this particular restaurant, though there was social-distance seating.
CentralWorld was dead quiet compared to Siam Paragon or Siam Center.
That’s pretty much my first day at the mall in times of the “new normal.”
All was rather mundane and well ordered. If there’s any complaint, it would be about Thai Chana. The website is in Thai only. However, if you don’t read Thai, the staff are very helpful.
And if I can be of assistance, remember the color code system and click the correct button.
Green for check in. Orange for check out. You’ll have to do it at every store.