Monday, December 9, 2013

Protest Season

Political protests in Thailand are nothing new, especially in the capitol city of Bangkok.  In recent decades there has been a pattern of major political protests every few years, often resulting in a change of government.  Some of you might recall that there were major protests in Bangkok in 2010 shortly before we moved to Thailand the first time.

Once again, there are major political protests going in Bangkok. Some of the recent political protests in Bangkok have escalated into violence and have started to make international news, so we thought we should at least acknowledge them here on our blog.  Thus far the direct impact to us has been minimal, but we are staying alert.

Here's how things have affected us thus far:
  • We've spent a lot more time on local news websites, particularly Twitter, to make sure we know any areas in the city to avoid.
  • Traffic.  At times a number of major roads have been blocked by protests.  The result is everyone thinks traffic in central Bangkok will be terrible.  The reality is many people avoid the city and traffic has been remarkably light.
  • Some of the half day pre-school kids at Mary's school had to be picked up late from school a few days due to lunch hour protests in the area.  Fortunately the protesters were business people that needed to head back to the office after lunch and things cleared up in the early afternoon.
I'm not a political analyst, so I won't even try to explain the complexity of Thai politics here.  If you're interested in that sort of thing, this link below provides a reasonably concise summary of the current political landscape in Thailand.

More major protests are planned for this week.  So far our neighborhood has not been directly impacted by any of the current protests, but we are paying close attention to what is going on.  During the 2010 protests and ensuing government crackdown our neighborhood was briefly turned into a battle zone as the protesters were driven out of the city center. The link below is to a photo-essay of the government crackdown on the 2010 protests.  Many of the pictures were taken in the street in front of our condo.

We don't expect a repeat of 2010, but it does serve as a reminder of why it's best to stay alert when protests are going on.

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