Friday, 12 March 2010

How Not to Panic

Mass anti-government rallies are set to happen this weekend, with red-shirted protesters coming in from the country and the city under heightened security. I'm not going to pretend this isn't a problem, but neither is it cause for widespread panic and paranoia. My parents tell me this attitude is the British war-time spirit, the knowledge that Life Goes On seeping down the psychology of generations, but it seems more like the Bangkok spirit to me. Or maybe just common sense. Come rain or shine or civil unrest, the city has to keep working, keep playing.

I know I'm speaking from the shiny, air-conditioned safety of the expat bubble. I don't like the bubble, but I acknowledge the privilege that inhabiting it gives me, and I'm trying to stay conscious of that while talking about political situations here. But I'm always disappointed when influential foreign organisations or figures exaggerate the danger. I often hear expats talk patronisingly about how rallies like this one harm tourism and the daily functioning of the city, but so does panicking!

Anyway, my advice is to keep an eye on the news, adjust whatever plans you had for the weekend accordingly, and then carry on with them. The Bangkok Post and the Nation will both have regular updates, and here's a map of protest hot spots.

Avoid travel by car as much as possible, because the roads that aren't closed will be super-congested. Walking is fun! The skytrain and metro will get you around swiftly. If you do want to stay in, invite some neighbours round for a movie night, as we're doing in my soi (a good chance to watch some of the Oscar winners/nominees, in highest-quality night market DVD format). I'm also taking the opportunity of a day off work to stay in and do some writing. But if I decide to go to the cinema, or out dancing, later, I doubt it will be the end of me.

Tomorrow I'm still planning to do front of house for BCT's Pinocchio, which has a fantastic director and cast and still deserves an audience - go! It's at the British Club, near enough to Chong Nonsi skytrain station for travelling there and back not to be a problem, and the club itself is a very relaxed, sheltered space. Check their website for more information.

Have a nice weeked, everyone, and don't panic.

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