Monday, March 15, 2010

The calm before the storm - Bangkok, Thailand

Sukhumvit Road on Friday night is quiet. The Saturday's crowd in Khao San Road is half as large as usual. These are two of the most popular hangout places in Bangkok: on weekends they are normally packed with hundreds of Thais and foreigners. The business loss in the area has been estimated in the hundreds million baht.
Red shirts (many of them are donning black suites and red bandannas) hang around Sanam Luang and Rachadamnoen Road. Convenience stores in the area don't sell alcohol, even before midnight. Someone buys energy drinks by the crates and distributes the small bottles among the protesters. Young men stop and chat with the foreigners, smiling, answering their questions, taking photos together. 
The Reds coming from Isan brought with them huge amounts of unripe papaya, fermented mud fish paste and chillies: they'll be able to pound som tam for a week at least. 
Sunday morning, standing on a sky-bridge over Pahonyothin Road, one can watch a parade of trucks, cars and songthaews carrying hundreds of people waving red flags. They pose in front of the cameras, cheer at the bystanders who greet and smile in return. On Monday morning a much larger procession might pass through this same road, in the opposite direction, bound to the base of the 11th Infantry regiment, where the PM Abhisit has set up his backroom.
Is this just the calm before the storm?

Photo of a Red Shirts procession in Pahonyothin Road, Bangkok, by Fabio Pulito

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