Thursday, April 16, 2009

Black Songkran

I'm alive, bitches. No, I wasn't caught in the crossfire between the military and the red shirts. Gosh, that would've made a more exciting story, chai mai?

But really, we just lost our internet connection for five days. Nothing serious about it.

I know this update is really late. By now we all know that the melee in Bangkok in the past few days reached a relatively peaceful conclusion... at least for now, no?

Anyway, I took some pictures of the red-shirt protesters in front of Siam Paragon last Sunday. It was just another ordinary afternoon, few people were milling around Siam coz Songkran Festival was starting the next day.

I was watching a film in Lido and when I came out I stumbled into a couple of tanks in the middle of Rama 1 Road. On top of the tanks were the red-shirt protesters, waving flags and cheering. Later on I heard that the military left the tanks when it appeared that the reds were going to overpower them.

Curious onlookers were jamming the walkway between Siam Paragon and Central World. Many were taking pictures, and, more than anything, I could sense only fascination among the crowd.

Normally people would be fazed by the sight of tanks in the middle of the city, especially when an angry mob is surrounding them. But no, the people were mostly just taking it in stride and instead took pictures of the protesters like the latter were celebrities or something.

The next day, the chaos in Bangkok reached its peak. Dozens and dozens of buses were blocking the thoroughfares in many areas of the city. The epicenter of the road blocks was the Government House, two streets from where I live.

Because the clashes between the police and the mob had escalated later in the day, the Songkran festivities in nearby Khao San Road were cut short.

Later in the afternoon, from the top of the building where I live, we saw black smoke billowing around the area of the Government House. Apparently, the mob torched many of the buses that were used to block the road, mainly to drive away the riot police and the military. The smell of burning rubber wafted in the air. We could also hear faint explosions.

It definitely looked like doomsday, something that we can only see in Hollywood movies for instance.

While all this was happening, we could hear loud music from the neighbors. They were engrossed in their Songkran celebrations, oblivious to the chaos just nearby. Kids shrieked as they splashed water on each other and on passersby. Men sat around tables brimming with whiskey bottles.

The next day, the red-shirts decided to stop the rioting, leave the protest site, and go back home. Just like that.

The malls reopened shortly thereafter.

Yesterday, the last day of Songrkan, people made up for lost time. I heard that the revelry in Khao San and Silom went full blast and extended all the way to three in the morning today. Oh, today and tomorrow were declared as holidays for government employees, that makes a total of ten days without work for some people.

Hay, I'm sooooooo relieved this is over. Or maybe not. Let's see what happens in the next few days. But for now, Bangkokians are just happy to reclaim its city.

6 comments:

Yj said...

and we're glad that you're safe.....

Dawn Selya said...

Thais are lovely people. The show must go on talaga despite the protests. Do you feel safe staying in BangCock?

W. said...

And here I thought perhaps you'd been ravished by or were ravishing some lonely Isaan soldiers. That makes a better story than a lost Internet connection.

Gram Math said...

i cant believe that this is happening to this country just be safe and take care

Bianca La Plonguese said...

be careful out there. stay safe.

kawadjan said...

yj: naman, thanks for the concern.

dawn: safe pa naman. this too shall pass, sabi nga ni Scarlet.

w: oh, honey, don't get me started on those succulent soldiers.

gram math: dahling, dahling... i come from las islas filipinas whose politics is equally mind-boggling, to say the least.

bianca: don't worry, i still have my bato.

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