Monday, 15 March 2010

In the red corner...

…Thaksin Shinawatra. The ongoing protests in Bangkok have hit the global news networks, so what’s the situation really like on the ground?

Well, very calm at the moment. It’s almost a carnival atmosphere as protestors and police/soldiers trade jokes and banter. But let’s not forget what’s happened before, this is a potentially volatile situation which could turn at any time. The Thai PM has invoked emergency laws to enable him to “send the tanks in” should the protest turn violent or they try to storm government offices as happened last time.

It will be an interesting stand off, as the majority of the protestors don’t necessarily have anything to rush back home for. They have mostly been bussed in from the poor, rural Isaan area in Thailand’s north east, many are unemployed or farmers and have had their travel fares paid for them. As with the previous protests, food and drink is on tap. Who’s behind the bank-rolling of this large scale protest? Who has most to gain embarrassing the government and calling for their heads? Thaksin?

Well back to the day to day events, it’s interesting to see normal Bangkokians being swept along with the crowds. The reports say everyone is wearing red and it may well appear that way from a long range camera shot. However, many of the people aren’t wearing red but have been simply caught up in the atmosphere, shopkeepers, food vendors, people with nothing better to do. Other people are simply fed up with it all and the disruption it brings to every day life and of course Bangkok’s infamous traffic.

For travellers going to Bangkok in the next week or so, the situation AT THE MOMENT is calm but of course can change. Check with your government’s foreign office as any advice they offer can affect your travel insurance. Generally holiday’s cancelled or otherwise affected by protest/riot/political unrest aren’t covered. I would say at the moment, none of that is on the cards, but the protestors are standing firm and so too are the government. Watch this space…

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