Thursday, January 30, 2014

I May Have Stepped into Trouble This Time

Herman and I arrived in Bangkok three days ago. We love Thailand, even when they are having government protests, which has been the norm for the last several years. Our plan was to stay in this country for two months before moving on to Malaysia.

The good new: Weather is very nice here with temps in the low 80s and humidity in the 60s. The recent protests have turned many tourists away, and there are very few travelers in town.

The bad new: We assumed the protests would be going on in a different part of the city (near Parliament where they always happen) and we could avoid all the trouble. Ha! The protests camps are in various parts of the city, one right outside our hotel. A block away, government troops have setup sandbags and a makeshift outpost. Not much going on but speeches all day and people lingering about. Most of the city operates normally but there are a few major streets closed, making the already messy traffic a nightmare. So far, there has been sporadic violence, and at least four people have died.

The worse news: The protests are a means to delay the elections, which the liberal protesters will surely lose. The election is Sunday, and looks like it will happen. The protesters are threatening to close down the entire city and disrupt voting my any means possible. Some people are expecting military intervention, but are not betting on which side the troops will come down on. If there is a coup, we could be in for some trouble. Others are predicting a civil war, pitting the Bangkok liberals against the rural conservatives.

My better sense is telling me to leave town, but my curiosity is making me stay. I mean, how many military coups come along to experience in one’s lifetime? Wish us luck.

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