Sunday, 16 May 2010

Staying In, Mostly

Well. What on earth is one supposed to do with a walking blog when there's bloody violence on the streets, chunks of town on fire, and an impending curfew? (Or... not? I've been hearing reports of the curfew and reports that it's cancelled in quick succession, over and over). A few weeks ago I was blithely walking down Ratchadamri snapping photos; on Wednesday I went to see Iron Man 2 with a friend and skirted round bamboo stakes and razor wire to get to Scala, only to find it closed and decide that MBK was a far better idea anyway. But even being able to contemplate 'demonstration tourism' seems a thing of the long-ago peaceful past, now. On twitter and facebook the consensus among Bangkokians is: get away from the protest zones if you can, and stay inside. So... I'm not doing much strolling at the moment.

I live on Nang Linchi, close enough to Sathorn, Silom and Sala Daeng to hear the gunfire at night, and the frequent helicopters passing overhead, but just far away enough to still feel safe. It's shocking and heartbreaking to see footage of so many places I know and love full of fire and fighting and black smoke, and if not scary it's worrying to think that my local supermarket and restaurants might have trouble getting fresh deliveries. The supermarket yesterday was as busy as I've ever seen it, almost like Christmas Eve back in UK, with shelves emptying. I nabbed the last two loaves of bread - a couple of French ladies in the queue ahead of me had almost bought out the bakery. This morning I walked to a nearby coffee shop to work, because I thought I'd go mad if I stayed cooped up any longer. Streets eerily quiet, heavy dark sky pressing down, air still and hot.

Also managed to get to a dim sum restaurant (Ho's Kitchen, recommended, btw), by the port near Rama III, for lunch. This was the view:

Back at home now, working fretfully and keeping an eye on news sources. I can't thank the internet gods enough for twitter in this - the news is often upsetting, but I can't imagine how much scarier it would be to not know what's going on. And I'm finding it more reliable than reports on international media, which have disappointed me a few times lately by playing up some aspects of stories, playing down others, and recycling older footage to accompany 'live' reports. At the moment I'm getting most of my updates from @RichardBarrow, @georgebkk, @tulsathit, and @aleithead.

This post counts as my weekly photo, I guess, because I haven't exactly been roaming around looking for interesting new things to post about. But to balance the gloom of the smoking city, here's my mug of hot chocolate from Wawee Coffee this morning, showing Thailand still has some of its proverbial smiles:


  1. How very odd, my comment made ages ago didn't go through.

    I don't remember everything I said, but I did want to congratulate you on your fabulous photo. I saw that on twitter I believe but didn't take note of the photographer.

  2. Thanks! I admit it feels a little strange to be complimented on a photo that was somewhat upsetting to take, but I do appreciate it. My admiration for photojournalists has certainly been boosted by my experience on the periphery of recent events.

  3. I'm with you there. During the beginning of this all I followed the red parades (not sure what to call them) and had big eyes over being a photojournalist. But it is so much more than grabbing a camera and heading out.

    Next weekend I'm going to take my new camera for a spin. I talked myself out of it this past weekend. I'm still a bit bothered over it all.

  4. Not sure how long you've been in Bangkok but, in the last few years, this stuff has come to be quite normal (I've been here 8 years).

    For western women like us (I think you are one, LOL) it can be a bit disconcerting as we don't have the prerequisite Thai girlfriends to take care of everything like the guys do :)....but.... I've never been worried while I've been here, it's safe enough as nobody is targeting farangs (unless you get in the way of government bullets that is, like the few western journalists did). Like you said, if you stay away from the demo areas (although I spent a long time down there talking to red shirt protesters), it's fine.

    A warning though, it is going to get worse before it gets better, IMO. The idiot Abhisit seems to think he's running the situation but every taxi driver I talk to is telling me about more violence, bombs, shootings etc. in the next few months. Could be all talk, but I doubt it. :(

    Amazing Thailand, eh? :)

  5. Whooops, never mind - just read your last post and see you've been here most of your life :) You must know the city a lot better than I do. Your photos are beautiful, btw.

  6. BTW, love Wawee. Haven't actually been to one in Bangkok but there are a couple in Chiang Mai that are the prettiest coffee shops I've ever seen. Have a Thai friend who keeps promising to meet me at one of the Wawees in BKK, but you know how it gets. One's busy, the other's busy, LOL. Still think they have some of the best coffee in Thailand (hate Starbucks :)