January 22, 2014

Bangkok State of Emergency

Category: Thaism

As at about 6pm yesterday, the government declared a state of emergency affecting 5 provinces in Thailand: Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Prathumthani, Samut Prakarn & Thonburi. It sounded all serious and would put most of us in a state of a panic but when I asked my boss what we should do, he simply laughed and replied, “Do Nothing. We join the mob,” said he, in a joking manner while he grinned cheekily.

Sources from Twitter stated that imposing an emergency decree  simply means that the government now has immense power to censor media, make arrests and end gatherings. All practicality with little or without consequences. In essence, it does not surmount to anything much.

Am I worried? Not particularly,  to be honest. Not at this point in time anyway given that the violence and grenade attacks had only happened in isolated areas.  And, the way I see it,  as long as we keep our wits about us and avoid the rally sites, it is business as usual; however, be prepared to be greatly inconvenienced.

One of the upside in the recent Bangkok Shutdown which started on 14th January was the fact that traffic problem in this city has been almost completely eliminated in downtown areas. The major roads and bridges were mostly blocked off by anti-government protestors and the streets have been turned into one massive street party where concerts are held, loud music were being  played, anti-government souvenirs are being sold as well as food and drinks are being served while protestors blow their whistles. Given a rather massive blockade happening on the street level,  traffic – at least around the vicinity of my residential area- has been nothing but a breeze and how I love it so!

This area has been relatively peaceful so far with a party atmosphere engulfed within it. Just last weekend, when we passed by Siam Paragon, we saw that the entire street underneath the BTS station had been turned into a full-pledge, bazaar-like atmosphere. It was quite crowded, and at a glance, it did look like any other night market. Interesting, but rather bizarre.

Underneath Siam BTS on a Sunday afternoon

We don’t know how much longer this would go on, but as a precaution, it would be wise to stay away from the main rally sites especially at night; (especially so if you are a foreigner and has no business to be there)

This was the sight I was confronted with when I walked out of my office on the day when they declared Bangkok to Shutdown – a pretty peaceful, yet amazing sight:

Main road being blocked at lunch
What seemed like a street party as protestors enjoyed the open-air concert by a Thai band
Opportunists making money from selling souvenirs
A protestor shopping for another T-shirt
Only the best ice-cream

Lots more whistles for sale!

Military medic on stand-by

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