Saturday, February 8, 2014

Weekend Update

It has been a mostly quiet week for protests.  Three protest sites have been completely shut down (Lad Phrao, Victory Monument, Rama VIII Bridge).  There are still four stages in central Bangnkok quite close to our condo though.  Protest numbers during the day are quite small, but people are continuing to come out in the evenings.  There have been a number of small bombings late at night (fireworks and hand grenades), but only a few minor injuries.  These seem to be aimed at causing intimidation rather than injury.

The most serious incident this week happened just down the street from us when a confused motorist accidentally turned past a roadblock onto a closed road and sped down the empty street toward a protest site late at night.  He figured out he made a wrong turn when protest guards opened fire on his car injuring him and his passenger.

Mary and I have mostly been avoiding protest sites, but at times this is difficult.  This morning we took care of a number of errands that we have been putting off for a while due to protests.  In the process we passed through all four of the main protest sites in Bangkok's main business district (Asoke, Ratchaprasong, Phathumwan, and Lumpini).  We even caught another glimpse of protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban given a passionate speech just down the road from our condo by Lumpini Park.

When the protests first started, markets started to pop up in protest areas selling shirts, whistles, hats, and food to protesters.  We've noticed that these markets have evolved greatly over the past weeks and are now essentially large street markets for all sorts of merchandise and services. Below is a list of some market stalls we observed while walking between Ratchaprasong and Pathumwan today.  Some are protest related, but most are certainly not.

  • Protest shirts, whistles, hats, etc
  • Food and drinks
  • Thai massage or foot massage (in a chair or on mat in the street)
  • Shoes, Dress shirts, Ties
  • Watches
  • Lamps
  • Masks: Batman, Joker, Nixon, Obama, etc
  • Bras, panties, lingerie
  • Fishing poles
  • Pottery
  • Bunnies

It makes me wonder if the "Bangkok Shutdown" is still about politics, or is it just turning into a profitable new street market?

Here is a map of the current protest / market sites near our condo.

In other news, Thailand's roads continue to be much more deadly than the political protests.  I regularly see traffic accidents, often with fatalities while commuting to Ayutthaya.  I rarely mention these as they are just an everyday part of life here, but one accident this week was particularly horrific and made headlines in Bangkok.  A truck carrying a loaded shipping container lost control on an elevated expressway.  The truck stayed on the elevated road (that I take every day), but the container on the truck crashed over the side onto the busy road below.  A commuter van was completely flattened.  It had just dropped off a load of passengers, thus the van driver was the only fatality.  It could have been a lot worse.

Finally, Bangkok bid farewell to the legendary Lumpini Muaythai Boxing Stadium last night.  The final fight was packed with people wishing to bid farewell to the 58 year old venue.  The stadium is across the street from our condo and we have enjoyed going to watch the world class fights here a number of times.  A new larger stadium in suburban Bangkok will take it's place.

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