There is so much stuff online documenting and offering comment on the riots and the before and aftermath, it’s hard to know where to start. I’ve spent large parts of the day sifting through all sorts of pages and links, but I’m still in a state of complete shock. This is in the city I live in, in streets I walk down, if not every day, at least once every two or three weeks. I know by sight some of the vendors around there, who’s world as surely as anything can be sure, has come crashing down in what they say is over a billion US dollar loss to the Thai economy so far.
And the tourists stay away.
The irony in that is that tourists and foreigners, even with the accidental death of the Japanese newsman, are not targets and are not at risk, unlike something like the Bali bombings where tourists were the primary target.
I went down to the Ratchaprasong intersection near Chit Lom BTS station this afternoon and I’m going to post a photo or two but before, I thought I’d post three videos from Thai-faq’s Tony Joh, which are simply gobsmacking and, as Thai Twittersphere has been saying, should really be award winning stuff:
I knew I could’t get there on the Skytrain, which we were told terminated at Asoke, about 2km before Ratchaprasong, so I guessed I’d have to walk and thought I could go the last part of the way on the Skywalk which, for the BKK uninitiated, hangs under the trains’ tracks, branching out to malls (all closed I guessed but I actually found a couple partially open, including the big DIY store at Ploen Chit — odd) and usually provides an easy way to get around, avoiding the traffic and the grime.
Why did I go? I guess I like to observe and — more — I want to try and get a grasp on what is happening to this rather wonderful but perplexing country.
Sukhumvit Rd, where this shot was taken, near Soi 12, is usually 24/7 at a traffic standstill or at least groaning under the weight. Today, though:
Further on, at Wireless Rd, the first of two roadblocks, manned by red marshalls:
Chit Lom Rd., normally gridlocked on a Sunday with shoppers and taxis:
The second roadblock, at Chit Lom into Thanon Rama 1:
From another angle under the Chit Lom BTS Station:
The McDonalds beside Erawan, doing huge redshirted business:
The main rally stage, with a massive PA that was staggered all the way down the street for a km or so:
Not sure what the middle upper one is supposed to represent:
She asked me if I liked the Redshirts, I said I did and she gave me a B5 discount on my fresh juice:
Parts of the area were quite sparse, there had clearly been quite a drop off in numbers since Saturday’s mayhem:
And lots and lots of people asleep everywhere you looked:
If I was asked, I’d say the mood was somber, very tired and yet still staunch. It’s very much not over yet.
And yet it was still welcoming to me, and to answer the questions posed after the last lot of photos, not once did I feel threatened in any way — quite the opposite in fact, people smiled continuously at me, asked me where I was from, what I thought about all this and shook my hand. And, aside from a couple of cops I saw sharing a coffee with two redshirts at one end, there was no military or police presence.
But I have to ask the same question that Tony does in the videos: this is costing a fortune. Who’s paying for it all?