Bangkok, May 2010 | Part III

After Part II

May 17-24, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

NOTE: We have issued a Travel Warning for Thailand, advising American Citizens to defer all travel to Bangkok and defer non-essential travel to the rest of Thailand. We are constantly reviewing that guidance to be sure it reflects the changing conditions.

The Department of State has authorized departure (i.e. voluntary departure) for non-emergency U.S. government employees and eligible family members. The U.S. Embassy has decided, in light of the current situation, to go to authorized departure only for eligible family members from Bangkok. Employees of the Embassy will remain in place.

Travel Warning: Thailand

(Issued on May 15, 2010)

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens traveling to and residing in Thailand of ongoing political demonstrations and unrest in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Due to escalating violence in central Bangkok, including gunfire near the U.S. Embassy, demonstrations in Chiang Mai, and other incidents throughout Thailand, U.S. citizens should defer all travel to Bangkok and defer all non-essential travel to the rest of Thailand. The Department of State has authorized the departure of all non-emergency U.S. government personnel and eligible family members from Bangkok. This replaces the Travel Alert dated April 28, 2010, and is in response to updated information on increased violence and security concerns. The Department of State recommends against travel to Bangkok and non-essential travel to Thailand at this time.

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (aka UDD or "red-shirts") continues to demonstrate in central Bangkok. The UDD may change or expand its demonstration locations at any time. Various other groups have engaged in pro-government or counter-demonstrations in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. There have been several clashes between 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.

The Royal Thai Government through the Center for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation has announced its plans to close off the demonstration area at the Ratchaprasong rally site in an attempt to disperse the protesters. Authorities are taking the following measures:

The U.S. Embassy, including visa operations, was closed on Friday, May 14 and will be closed on Monday, May 17. If security issues persist, the U.S. Embassy may continue to close. American Citizen Services (ACS) will be available for emergencies only. To find out the current operating status of the U.S. Embassy, please go to the Embassy's website at http://bangkok.usembassy.gov. The U.S. Embassy recommends against coming to this area. If U.S. citizens currently have appointments with ACS, they may go online or call us once we have reopened 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 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 in affected areas are being relocated to housing outside of the affected areas until the situation is resolved. The Department of State has authorized the departure of all non-emergency U.S. government personnel and eligible family members from Bangkok. The U.S. Embassy is restricting the travel of official visitors to Thailand.

The Royal Thai Government has declared a state of emergency in the following provinces:

This action expands the existing state of emergency in the Bangkok metropolitan area that the government declared on April 7, 2010.

A state of emergency gives the police and military increased powers to maintain public order. Specifically, security forces have the authority to:

You should expect to see more security forces personnel in the streets. You might encounter them at roadblocks or other security checkpoints. If you encounter police or military personnel, you should obey any and all instructions from them. Be sure to carry identification and proof of your U.S. citizenship at all times to present if asked by authorities.

Supporters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (aka UDD or "red-shirts") in Chiang Mai city may go to Bangkok to assist UDD supporters there. Security forces may try to block these movements, which could lead to violent confrontations.

Political demonstrations by the UDD are expected to continue in Bangkok indefinitely. As a result, traffic congestion and difficulty of movement is possible throughout Bangkok, and traffic patterns may change unexpectedly as demonstrators block roads. Other forms of transportation, such as the BTS Skytrain, may close unexpectedly in response to threats or incidents, such as occurred on April 27, when protesters tried to block the tracks with tires.

There have been numerous incidents of explosive attacks, including several isolated grenade attacks, in and around Bangkok and Chiang Mai over the past two months. Additional explosive devices have been discovered before detonation. Some of these incidents occurred at or near areas frequented by U.S. citizens. These incidents appear to be motivated by domestic politics and do not appear to be acts of international terrorism. The possibility of more such attacks cannot be ruled out. U.S. citizens are reminded to exercise caution and vigilance at all times. Immediately report to law enforcement or security personnel any unattended packages or bags or suspicious objects in public areas.

On Saturday, April 10, UDD and Royal Thai Government security forces clashed in the Phanfa Bridge area, resulting in a number of fatalities. On April 27, UDD protesters clashed with police near the Thai Air Force headquarters at Don Muang. The UDD stopped and entered vehicles looking for military and police personnel. Media report that UDD leaders plan to block the movement of security forces from the provinces to Bangkok.

UDD supporters have threatened demonstrations in the provinces if its current demonstrations in Bangkok are forcibly dispersed, as occurred April 9, 10, and 24. Therefore, U.S. citizens should monitor public sources of information to stay abreast of the latest information concerning demonstrations and areas to avoid.

On the evening of April 22, 2010, several explosions occurred in the Silom/Sala Daeng area at the Sala Daeng BTS Skytrain station causing a number of injuries, including at least one fatality. The possibility of more such attacks cannot be ruled out. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to and lodging in this area.

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.


PS: Ruam Rudee Shopping Center parking lot attendants with nothing to attend to.


PPS: Garbage waits for no man.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

One night in Bangkok.


PS: As we were running out of some food essentials I made a walking trip this afternoon through the army checkpoint on Sukhumvit to visit Villa Supermarket and an open 7 Eleven. The troops and the police were attentive but not intrusive. Since this checkpoint is our only practical way in and way out from our home I hoped to ensure positive face recognition by giving them a couple of bags of assorted ice cream goodies.

But, the only pedestrian who seemed to be really enjoying everything was a local soi dog.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010 (Our 7th Wedding Anniversary)

This is one wedding anniversary that we will not forget. It was a ring of fire all around us.


Wednesday, May 20, 2010 (Pre-journal)

Early to bed:

May 20, 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 that a curfew is in place from 9:00pm to 5:00am through Sunday morning, May 23. This curfew applies to the Bangkok metropolitan area and to the Thai provinces listed below. Royal Thai Government officials may add additional provinces to this list after this Warden Message is sent out, so please refer to media or local officials for the latest information. Reports indicate that troops have authority to shoot on sight in response to acts of inciting unrest. American citizens should maintain a low profile and refrain from nighttime outside activity until the situation improves.

Early morning flights may be delayed because of the curfew and the inability of crews and passengers to arrive at the airport before their scheduled flight. If you will be flying out of Bangkok in the next several days, we recommend that you leave for the airport during the day (not during curfew hours). If you are arriving at a Bangkok airport during curfew hours, we recommend that you stay at the airport until after curfew hours. Reports indicate that Airports of Thailand (AOT) may coordinate transportation for passengers from Suvarnabhumi Airport to a few central locations in Bangkok during curfew hours. However, they are evaluating providing this service on a day-to-day basis. Passengers may not be able to find any transportation from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok during curfew hours and may need to wait until after curfew hours to go to Bangkok. The U.S. Embassy, including visa operations, will be closed Friday, May 21. American Citizen Services (ACS) has opened a temporary location at the Westin Grand Sukhumvit. Please see details in our recent announcement . ACS is also available by phone at 02-205-4049. For after-hours emergencies, please call 02-205-4000. The U.S. Embassy recommends against coming to the area near the U.S. Embassy. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to and lodging in the area of the U.S. Embassy 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. A curfew from 9:00pm to 5:00am has been declared in the following provinces:

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.

Since May 15, 2010, the Department of State has advised U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Bangkok and all non-essential travel to the rest of Thailand. You should review the Department's most recent Travel Warning for Thailand .

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.


Wednesday, May 20, 2010

Today I took a drive up and down Ruam Rudee ... the road that runs parallel to Wireless Road. There was very little vehicular traffic ... but, armed foot soldiers were stationed every hundred meters or so. Every shop on the street except for our local 7 Eleven was closed. As the curfew is supposed to kick in at 9 PM today what places that are open in Bangkok will close at about 5 PM so as to allow their employees to reach home before the magic hour.


PS:

Though our local 7 ELEVEN is again open it will close at 5 PM today as Bangkok (and a large part of Thailand) is under new curfew orders. Last night people were allowed to be on the streets until 8 PM. For tonight and the next two nights the curfew has been relaxed a little: off the streets by 9 PM, doors open at 5 AM.

This afternoon an armored Thai army vehicle positioned itself next to our local 7 ELEVEN and broadcast via a giant loudspeaker an order that everyone had to be off the streets by 9 PM today.

Tomorrow I think my foot massage place will be open ... as will Watcharee's hair salon. *


* OK, suffering is relative!


Friday, May 21, 2010 (Pre-Journal)

Today was the first day in about a week that the Bangkok Post was able to deliver to our neighborhood. The headline and the stories were predictable.


This afternoon I walked south on Ruam Rddee until I reached All Seasons and the Conrad Hotel. Crossing south of the Conrad I exited onto Wireless Road where I headed north. Vehicle and foot traffic was almost non-existent. On a normal Friday afternoon this area would have been swarming with people and cars.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Last week there was a huge tire and bamboo barrier at the intersection of Wireless Road and Ploenchit. Today there remains just a burnt stain.


PS: I walked back to our condo on Ploenchit Avenue. Normally this street is busy with food stalls and other pedestrian activities. Not today.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sure, it was expected that Central World would be down for a long while ... but, no one expected Nana to be still running slow 36 hours after the army moved in.


Sunday, May 23, 2010 (Pre-journal)

Are we getting back to normal?

May 23, 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 that it will impose a shortened curfew for at least one more day and will evaluate the need to extend the curfew on a day-to-day basis. To find out if the Royal Thai Government has extended the curfew, please refer to local media and our website. We will not send out another email warden message solely regarding the curfew, but will update this message on our website.

The curfew is in place tonight, Sunday, May 23 from 11:00pm to 5:00am. This curfew applies to the Bangkok metropolitan area and to the Thai provinces listed below. Royal Thai Government officials may change this list after this Warden Message is sent out, so please refer to media or local officials for the latest information. Reports indicate that troops have authority to shoot on sight in response to acts of inciting unrest. American citizens should maintain a low profile and refrain from nighttime outside activity until the situation improves.

If you will be flying out of Bangkok in the next several days, we recommend that you leave for the airport well in advance of the curfew hours. If you are arriving at a Bangkok airport during curfew hours, we recommend that you stay at the airport until after curfew hours. Reports indicate that Airports of Thailand (AOT) may coordinate transportation for passengers from Suvarnabhumi Airport to a few central locations in Bangkok during curfew hours. However, they are evaluating providing this service on a day-to-day basis. Passengers may not be able to find any transportation from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok during curfew hours and may need to wait until after curfew hours to go to Bangkok.

The U.S. Embassy, including visa operations, will be closed Monday, May 24. We will reopen all operations, including all consular services, on Tuesday, May 25. On Monday, May 24, American Citizen Services (ACS) will be at our temporary location at the Westin Grand Sukhumvit. Please see details in our recent announcement . ACS is also available by phone at 02-205-4049. For after-hours emergencies, please call 02-205-4000.

A curfew from 11:00pm to 5:00am has been declared in the following provinces:

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.

Since May 15, 2010, the Department of State has advised U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Bangkok and all non-essential travel to the rest of Thailand. You should review the Department's most recent Travel Warning for Thailand .

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.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Looking at the road it appears that things are returning to something like 'normal'. Of course, it is a but the Sunday after the big storm. Monday will probably tell the truth. I am crossing my fingers.


Monday, May 24, 2010

A nice thing about Bangkok is that when the shops are closed the shops come to you.


PS:

CRISIS AFTERMATH: Curfew extended but hours cut

By THE NATION
Published on May 24, 2010

CRES trying to ensure security without too much inconvenience

The authorities yesterday extended the overnight curfew for Bangkok and 23 provinces till at least today, but relaxed the time restriction by three hours. The curfew was changed to 11pm until 4am.

Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd, spokesman for the Centre for Resolution of the Emergency Situation, said the curfew was shortened to minimise the impact on people who had to travel. The curfew had run from 9pm-5am for three nights.

CRES will decide on Monday whether to renew the curfew, he said.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said earlier on live TV that the curfew was still necessary to ensure continued security for the public.

On his weekly "Confidence in Thailand with PM Abhisit" show, Abhisit said the government and CRES had to strike a perfect balance between security and not inconveniencing people's daily lives. So, the curfew needed to be imposed again but with shorter hours.

Referring to the riots and widespread arson attacks last Wednesday, Abhisit insisted that the government had no intention of breaking up the rally at Rajprasong by force.

The government had simply wanted to lay siege to the protest zone by setting up security checkpoints around the perimeter and preventing more demonstrators from gathering there, he said.

The government had hoped to pressure the protesters into calling off the rally on their own, so that no lives would be lost, he said.

But deaths occurred after some "terrorists" and armed protesters came out to try to dismantle the siege by the authorities at checkpoints around the rally zone, he said.

The killing of over 40 people since the blockade started had nothing to do with the rally at Rajprasong because the protesters and armed terrorists attacked the checkpoints, prompting security forces to retaliate, he said.

The casualties suffered by the security forces were low because troops had been well prepared, he said.

The government had not abandoned peace talks and had been contacted by Senate Speaker Prasopsuk Boondej, who said a group of senators was trying to broker a halt to hostilities on Tuesday night, he said.

But the red-shirt leaders had set an unacceptable condition for the troops to be pulled back, which would have compromised the effort to contain the protesters, he said.

CRES decided to squeeze the rally area of protesters by pushing them back from the Sala Daeng to Salasin intersection in the morning, he said.

The operation saw six people killed including an Italian photographer and a military officer, both by an M79 attack, he said.

The shooting to death of six people inside Pathumwanaram Temple was regrettable, he said, noting that they were killed in the evening after troops had stopped trying to push back protesters to Sarasin Rd in the afternoon.

An independent panel would be formed to probe the temple killings, he said.

The arson attacks might not have been spontaneous because after the red-shirt leaders announced the end of the rally in the afternoon, protesters at Rajprasong and in several other provinces launched attacks very fast, he said.

The Rajprasong area should be ready to turn over to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration today, he said.

Government officials had worked with bravery and sacrifice to ease the tensions and return normalcy to the country, he added.

Next: Part IV

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