Bangkok, May 2010 | Part II

After Part I

May 8-16, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Last night and early this morning two police officers were killed and 12 other people were wounded close to Lumpini Park. Here is the red shirt barricade at the NE corner of Lumpini Park.


PS:

Yesterday the scene on Ploenchit Road west of Wireless Road was peopleless and tentless. Within 24 hours dozens and dozens of tents have been erected under the SkyTrain tracks for as far as the eye can see. Is this an escalation? Do the red shirts plan an extended (1) sit in (2) Bangkok vacation (3) setting up of shops?

Note that the local surveillance cameras have been hooded or aimed upward.

Note, too, that Issan* food is readibly available on site.


* Many red shirts come from the Issan area of Thailand.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

At the intersection of Sathon Road North and Chongnonsi Road I saw something new*. What is this?


* OK, I usually don't pay a lot of attention to construction projects when I am driving ... but, this time I was stuck at a red light.


PS: A new bar just opened very near me, Is it scary or fun? If the owner has to warn about drugs and weapons ... hmm ... sounds American.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Bits of the Thai army are just a block away. Some of their vehicles are parked on Sukhamvit Soi 2 and a few sharpshooters are resting in the shade of the SkyTrain on the motorway.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It seems like Bangkokians will be forced to suffer innumerable traffic snarls for at least a few more days. Today I again visited the site of "The Charge of the Light Bamboos" only to hear the drone of loudspeaker voices. There were very few people in evidence and those that were actually stationary seemed to be waiting for motorcycle passengers, texting (or, sexting) their friends or just hawking stuff. So, rather than give you another big picture of the place (OK, just one overall shot) I narrowed my lens to capture the small and tiny stuff. It is ironic that next to one circus there is another circus; and, neither one is populated.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010 (Pre-journal)

If my blog temporarily ends with today's entries it is because our building has been plunged into darkness. Five minutes ago I received this message from my minder.

May 12, 2010

This warden message alerts U.S. citizens traveling to and residing in Thailand that the Royal Thai Government has indicated that authorities will cut power and water, and possibly telephone and transportation links, within the next 24-48 hours to the Ratchaprasong rally site in central Bangkok where the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (aka UDD or "red-shirts") continue to demonstrate. It is currently unclear how large an area will be affected. It is also unclear how the UDD will respond.

U.S. citizens should avoid travel to and lodging in this area and the areas in and around all demonstrations, if possible. If U.S. citizens must travel to these areas, they should exercise special caution and remain vigilant with regard to their personal security. U.S. Embassy personnel who live around this area have been given the option to relocate to housing outside of the affected area until the situation is resolved. The U.S. Embassy is also planning on limiting personnel who work on, or directly off of, Rajdamri and Langsuan roads. Other U.S. Embassy facilities, such as the Chancery and Consular Section, will remain open. U.S. citizens are reminded to exercise caution and vigilance at all times.

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (aka UDD or "red-shirts") continues to demonstrate in central Bangkok. The UDD may change or expand their demonstration locations at any time. Various other groups are engaging in pro-government or counter-demonstrations. There have been several minor clashes between the security forces and the UDD and other demonstrators. These clashes may escalate with no warning. For areas currently affected by demonstrations, please refer to local media. These demonstrations are expected to continue in Bangkok indefinitely.

U.S. citizens are reminded that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence with little or no warning. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid the areas that may be targeted for demonstrations and to exercise caution in their movements around Bangkok.

The Department strongly encourages U.S. citizens in Thailand to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok or through the State Department's travel registration website . For information on general crime and security issues, U.S. citizens may also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Thailand and the Worldwide Caution, located at the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website . U.S. citizens may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 from the United States and Canada, or 202-501-4444 from overseas.

The American Citizen Services section of the U.S. Embassy Bangkok is located at 95 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand. The American Citizen ervices Unit of the U.S. Embassy can be reached by calling 66-2-205-4049 and by e-mail at acsbkk@state.gov. The emergency after-hours telephone number is 66-2-205-4000.

The U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai is located at 387 Wichayanond Road in Chiang Mai. The American Citizen Services Unit of the Consulate General can be reached by calling 66-53-107-777 and by e-mail at acschn@state.gov. The after-hours emergency telephone number is 66-81-881-1878.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Early this afternoon I walked up to the junction of Ploenchit and Wireless Road. The Red Shirts had a number of masked men ... (no girls, sigh) ... stopping and searching all vehicles entering Ploenchit. I was able to squeeze off several photos until a masked man using binoculars motioned me to 'cut it'. I did.


PS: The red shirts ... and others ... have immediate access to various concierge services in this turbulent neighborhood.

  1. Spirit houses.
  2. Food (Issan sausages)
  3. Garlands
  4. Lottery tickets


PPS: I feel sorry for the person whose car broke down at ground zero.


PPS: And the traffic is a bitch.


PPPS: Fuck! Does that mean that I can't watch "American Idol" tonight?


Thursday, May 13, 2010 (Pre-journal)

Thai army to seal off protest site as poll plan axed

by Anusak Konglang

BANGKOK (AFP) -- Thailand's army warned Thursday it would seal off a protest site in the capital with armoured vehicles, turning up the heat on defiant "Red Shirts" as the premier shelved a plan for early elections.

Hopes were fading of an imminent resolution to a crippling two-month crisis that has sparked several outbreaks of deadly unrest and brought parts of the capital to a standstill.

"I have cancelled the election date ... because protesters refuse to disperse," Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters. "I have told security officials to restore normalcy as soon as possible."

An army spokesman said security forces would surround the anti-government protest site in the heart of Bangkok with armoured vehicles from 6:00 pm (1100 GMT) to prevent people entering the area.

The planned move was announced after authorities failed to carry out a threat to cut off utilities to the protesters at midnight Wednesday although Abhisit said Thursday that the action would still go ahead.

The embattled premier had offered to dissolve parliament in the second half of September for elections on November 14 if all parties accepted his reconciliation plan.

The Reds, who have been protesting in Bangkok for two months in a campaign for early elections, initially agreed to enter the process but efforts to reach a deal that would see them go home have since broken down.

The movement says it will not disperse until Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban is charged for his role in overseeing an April 10 crackdown that left 25 people dead, including 20 protesters.

Red Shirt leader Weng Tojirakarn said Thursday that scrapping the election and dissolution of parliament was a betrayal of the Thai public.

"The government has committed political suicide if there is no election," he said on a stage at the Reds' fortified camp in a retail district, where several shopping centres and upscale hotels have been forced to close temporarily.

Another Red Shirt leader, Nattawut Saikuar, said that while the protesters remained committed to the election and dissolution, "justice" was their number one priority.

"Justice for more than 20 of our people who lost their lives is most important while dissolution and election are a very small issue," he said.

The Reds, whose heartland is in the impoverished rural northeast, say the government is undemocratic because it came to power in a 2008 parliamentary vote after a court ruling ousted elected allies of their hero, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was unseated in a 2006 coup.

Twenty-nine people have been killed and almost 1,000 injured in Bangkok in a series of confrontations and attacks since the protests began in mid-March. It is Thailand's worst political violence in almost two decades.

Arrest warrants have been issued for many of the top protest leaders and observers say disagreement between the two sides over a possible amnesty is likely to be one of the main sticking points.

Weng denounced the government threats to cut off food, water and power supplies to the rally site where thousands have set up camp.

He called on more protesters to join the rally, and challenged the military to go ahead with a crackdown, saying "if you want another 300, or 3,000 dead bodies please come, but Thailand will be not be the same."

In an editorial, the Bangkok Post said cutting off water and power would be unlikely to have any effect on the protesters -- except perhaps to harden their resolve -- but would hurt "the numerous innocent residents, businesses, schools and embassies in the area."


Thursday, May 13, 2010

To change the traffic to a more pedestrian matter, why do Thais drive on the left but walk on the right? And, what do you do in your country?


PS: My minder sent me this warning 50 minutes before the shit is supposed to hit the wall.

May 13, 2010

This warden message alerts U.S. citizens traveling to and residing in Thailand that the Royal Thai Government through the Center for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) has announced its plans to close off the demonstration area at the Ratchaprasong rally site in an attempt to disperse the protesters. We understand that beginning today, May 13, at 6:00 p.m., authorities will take the following measures:

The U.S. Embassy, including visa operations, will be closed tomorrow, Friday, May 14. American Citizen Services (ACS) will be available for emergencies only. If at all possible, the U.S. Embassy recommends against coming to this area on May 14. If U.S. citizens currently have appointments with ACS for May 14, you may go online or call us at 02-205-4049 to reschedule.

U.S. citizens should avoid travel to and lodging in this area and the areas in and around all demonstrations, if possible. If U.S. citizens must travel to these areas, they should exercise special caution and remain vigilant with regard to their personal security. U.S. Embassy personnel who live around this area have been given the option to relocate to housing outside of the affected area until the situation is resolved. U.S. citizens are reminded to exercise caution and vigilance at all times.

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (aka UDD or "red-shirts") continues to demonstrate in central Bangkok. The UDD may change or expand their demonstration locations at any time. Various other groups are engaging in pro-government or counter-demonstrations. There have been several clashes between the security forces and the UDD and other demonstrators. These clashes may escalate with no warning. For areas currently affected by demonstrations, please refer to local media. These demonstrations are expected to continue in Bangkok indefinitely.

U.S. citizens are reminded that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence with little or no warning. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid the areas that may be targeted for demonstrations and to exercise caution in their movements around Bangkok.

The Department strongly encourages U.S. citizens in Thailand to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok or through the State Department's travel registration website . For information on general crime and security issues, U.S. citizens may also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Thailand and the Worldwide Caution, located at the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website . U.S. citizens may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 from the United States and Canada, or 202-501-4444 from overseas.

The American Citizen Services section of the U.S. Embassy Bangkok is located at 95 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand. The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy can be reached by calling 66-2-205-4049 and by e-mail at acsbkk@state.gov. The emergency after-hours telephone number is 66-2-205-4000.

The U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai is located at 387 Wichayanond Road in Chiang Mai. The American Citizen Services Unit of the Consulate General can be reached by calling 66-53-107-777 and by e-mail at acschn@state.gov. The after-hours emergency telephone number is 66-81-881-1878.


PPS: This is my theory:

Since the vast majority of people in this world are right handed and since Bangkok has many walkovers, SkyTrain steps, Mall flights and other pedestrian ups and downs, all of which offer helping handrails, it is a lot more convenient to walk to the right. I suspect that in even right/drive nations people will still walk to the right in places where hand rails are present.


Friday, May 14, 2010 (Pre-journal)

She sums it up quite nicely.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Normally at this time of the day (especially on a Friday) Ploenchit Avenue and Wireless Road would be awash with cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles and tuk-tuks. This morning it was all but empty. Our condo is in sort of a no-man's-land: with the Red Shirt barrier on our west and the army checkpoint on our east.

I wonder if BMW had to pay extra to get the billboard site.


Saturday, May 15, 2010 (Pre-journal)

The Thai army is about 100 meters from our condo.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

We are totally surrounded by empty streets.


PS: People walking the tracks ... sleeping soldiers ... folks standing in line to get a permission slip* to enter and exit the quarantined area (where we live).


* For automobiles.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

A five star hotel with no guests? Yes, Bangkok's Plaza Athenee is open but there are no guests. It even appears that there is no one working here.


PS: And, if you think that is amazing ... get this: my 7 Eleven is closed!

Next: Part III

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