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Thai blog 1: En-Thai-Cing

August 10, 2010

In India, I never knew when the bus or train was at my stop, so about an hour before I had to start asking people. If the bus or train was late, and it probably was, I would end up waiting for 5 hours, looking out the window, asking locals, and worrying that I slept through our arrival. When, I got to Thailand, I needed to take a bus from the airport to the area we wanted to stay in Bangkok, and they put a sticker on me, to remind the driver and ticket lady where I am getting off. Thailand is backpacking for babies compared to India. Don’t get me wrong, there are many things to watch out for in Thailand, but its just more developed in Bangkok. Thailand is built for tourism. Many people I met in India were backpackers, here they are vacationers. I want to rename the country “Gap Year” in regards to thousands of British 18-22 year old that take off time from school or spend a summer traveling the region. Thailand is split up into a few areas of interest, and a few areas that while I’m sure have breathtakingly beautiful scenery, nobody goes there. First, there is Bangkok, all night bars, muay thai fighting, ping pong shows, riverboats, dirty old men, dirty young women, street pad thai, shopping complexes, politcal insurrection. I enjoyed the city very much, it was easy to get around, clean, friendly, and the food was excellent. It was a big break from Calcutta and I was ready to take it easy and let tuk tuk drivers, and hotel clerks do the work. We stayed on Khao San road, which is where the majority of the backpackers stay. We were a little worried when we got there about the protests and killings but I had done enough research to see that things were most likely dying down.

Basically, the president of thailand was ousted a few years back by a powerful upper class that claimed him to be corrupt. They may be right and I won’t go into the specifics of that. Many people protested, some died. Now, some people want a new election because they claim the current president was not legally elected. So they protest, many died. What made this protest so front page was not just the claim by the protesters or the violent backlash from the military, but where the violent backlash against the protesters took place. Right outside the major upscale shopping malls and 5 star hotels. Like I said, I stayed where the backpackers stay, but this area is filled with journalists from all over the world, shopping vacationers, major thai government installations, and a bunch of foreign embassies. I read that a New York Times writer had to duck down in his 5 star hotel room because a bullet came through the window. The protesters had barricades, but the military had snipers and were picking people off in the crowd without warning. When a military leader who defected and joined the side of the protesters was shot by a sniper bullet in the head, the violence hit a high. From there, the protest leaders called for an end to the violence and quit. Many people left, but some stayed, outbursts continued for a few more days but things had begun to dissipate. When all the violence ceased, the police found large groups of protesters holed up in different places to escape the violence. Many of these people are poor farmers from the northeast of thailand. They believed that the ousted former president did more to help them than anybody had ever done, and they were right about that. But many of them were elderly people who just wanted to show their support, they couldn’t go out into the crowded violent clashes so they stayed inside designated areas for days and days at a time. Some died from lack of proper amenities. So the possible danger to myself was over. Many people on Khao San road rejoiced that things were getting back to normal, but I couldn’t help but notice that no compromise was made, no flexibility was shown, and extreme force was used over and over again. This wasn’t something to be happy about, but I decided to forget about it and try and enjoy myself.

It’s easy to forget things in Bangkok. Sometimes its my head spinning from the drink, but the city is spinning as well. The city doesn’t quite swell up like others. Bangkok meets all expectations on a wild ride that goes round and round with a debauchery wrapped in plastic. Go here to see a fight. Go here to see women. That one likes you. That one wants money. Drink more here. Quick bite? Stumble here. Go here to see a fight. Go here to see women. That one likes you. That one wants money. Drink more here. Quick bite? Stumble here. Crash and cram into the back of taxi cabs, stop at a jewlery store or a suit shop and the driver gets free gas. Take you anywhere you want after that. You want boom boom? Ping Pong Show? Where you from? I know I know I know. Neon displays it all.

One Comment leave one →
  1. elayne permalink
    August 10, 2010 11:44 pm

    can’t wait to see you in person. Welcome Home Alex.
    Thailand doesn’t sound all that appealing. But it does sound exciting
    an adrenalin rush… Talk soon

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