This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.
What I see in my neighborhood…
I live in an apartment right in the middle of the Ratchaprasong area, so I am able to give a firsthand report about what I see. Several times a day, my wife and I go on the streets around the Ratchaprasong intersection, out among the reds.
From our windows we can see and hear the action 24/7 – we can also feel the windows vibrating from the hundreds of banks of loudspeakers and the noise of the crowd. In order to get on with our lives as normally as possible, we have no other choice than to dive into the red masses from time to time.
No matter which side it comes from, we keep a neutral attitude, ignoring the political lies and propaganda. To be honest, I see far too many deviations from the truth, and too much propaganda from all sides involved in the conflict.
When we are approached by friendly people, we don’t care what color they wear. With this attitude and putting the propaganda aside, it is actually a pleasant experience to dive into the red crowd to taste the hundreds of varieties of food they offer from all parts of the country, listen to some music sometimes, and watch the many people dancing and cheering with so many just being happy. We do all of this while ignoring the political propaganda around.
Now they are celebrating Songkran, and it’s like a mega-party in front of our house.
People are warm and friendly and many approach me to apologize for the inconveniences they are causing. They also offer specialties from Issan, drinks, ice coffee, etc. Even after the terrible events that happened at Phan Fah on Black Saturday, the people around my neighborhood are still friendly, happy, and mostly smiling.
Should we sit like sad victims in our apartment, complaining about the noise and the mob? Or should we stay out of our neighborhood and hope that the government sends troops to “enforce the law” and spill blood in front of our doorstep? We have chosen not to do that. Without politically joining any particular group, we are making the best out of the situation.
In one sense we have no other choice than to connect with the rally and the people when going out for food and entertainment. But we are certainly not joining the political propaganda rally – we are not wearing red.
Welcome to Ratchaprasong Resort!…
In the beginning it was more of an open street party. Now it is developing into something like an independent village in the heart of the city. People are installing themselves more comfortably, and the infrastructure is developing. The markets are getting diverse; the selection of street food is getting better by the day; the number of tents, shelters, street pharmacies, open air massage parlors and so on are increasing constantly. I even heard the red leaders calling the area “Ratchaprasong Resort”.
Sometimes I feel like I am close to crying. I like Thai people – no matter what color. When I retreat into my apartment, the positive experience of the human warmth and friendliness fills my heart and mind. If during such a moment I start thinking about the terrible but real threat of an army marching in violently, I fight hard to hold back tears. It’s an awful emotional roller-coaster.
As a foreigner I have no rights to be involved in politics in Thailand, but I still feel that I would like to help somehow. That’s why my wife and I gave pillows to needy toddlers and old people sleeping on the pavement. It’s not because we want to support the Red Shirts, it’s because we are human beings with hearts.
I regularly capture what is going on around my neighborhood, so I started a flickr account to share my photos. Please stop by.
ThaiVisa: My Neighborhood Under Siege: Ratchaprason
8 thoughts on “An Expat’s Eye-witness Report: Ratchaprasong Resort”
Great photos ^___^
Talen – It’s fabulous how photographers are heading into the different protests. At the Yellow Shirt’s on Victory Monument, there were miles and miles of supporters taking photos and videos with their camera phones.
Lani – So nice to see you! Are you settling in? With all this kerfluffle, I keep wondering if you are missing Thailand. I can’t imagine Ecuador being as exciting (not in the same way, anyway 😉
Jeff – I forgot to ask him what camera he has. I’m aiming for the 7D this year. Well, if all goes to plan. My KISS is wonderful, but after playing with it for a year, I want more.
N Jessie – It’s FABULOUS that you’ve started blogging again. I missed reading about your life in the north, what Colin is up to, and your sweet dogs and all. Siam should be cleared out by then (hope hope hope). But there’s always the Emporium (expensive, I know). Please let me know when you are in town. I usually leave in May, but not all of May.
Kaewmala – He has so many fabulous photos, it was difficult to chose which ones to post. My first run had less. But when I reread his article I just had to have more. Time was the limiting factor (more than space).
Martyn – One of my favourites is the photo with the ‘Home Sweet Home’ sign. I saw the shack in a different photo earlier so I drove around on Friday thinking that I might come across it. Nadda. I really needed to get out and walk instead of hiding in the safety of a car, but the atmosphere had changed so I went with my gut. A new element had been added to the entrances of the protest area – mostly black shirts with tough guy attitudes. In contrast to previous visits, they were not welcoming.
Bernd and Catherine – Some really fantastic photos and great words to accompany them. They are conclusive proof that the majority of red shirt protesters believe in their cause and are going about it in a peaceful way. Albeit a little disruptively to Bangkok’s residents.
I have to agree with Kaewmala about the cute little boy picture, I wonder what he makes of it all. The Louis Voutton backdrop photo just about sums up what kind of ‘money people’ the red shirts are up against. Let’s hope there is a peaceful solution soon.
Thanks for the photos! They’re wonderful (as we’ve all come to expect here, Cat.) My top favorites are the third to last and the last one – the boy’s look is so precious – utterly cute, and the jarring contrast in the last picture is great!
.-= kaewmala´s last blog ..The Reigning Vocabulary of Thai Colored Politics =-.
Great pictures!! as always. Thanks for sharing. I’ve got to go to BKK again next month. Too bad, no chance to shop at Central World. (Yeah.. I know I know. Only thinking about shopping.)
Love the one with food stalls. Looks like Mardi Gras in Chiang Mai (not sure if they still have it these days.)
Love the photos, they really capture the sense of what this rally is like. I saw it a few weeks ago when I passed through Bangkok. What doesn’t come over is the sheer volume of noise. As you mentioned, the windows rattle.
You have to love the Thai way of organising infrastructure. Food & Massage, all the essentials 🙂 What really hit me was the spread of all ages and both sexes.
The last photo does underline the difference between the 2 worlds.
Since I’ve left Thailand WLT has been my sole source as to what is going on and I must say I love the pictures Bernd. I can’t believe how many more people there are and I can’t help but wonder where this is all leading. What has been the response from the gov’t?
@Cat: I really enjoyed the interview w/ Stu (at least part 1), my connectivity in Ecuador is spotty so I’m working on parts 2 and 3. Thanks for keeping up a great blog – Cheers!
Bernd, Beautiful photos and a touching piece. it has been easy for many to only see the politics while forgetting the human condition. The vast majority of protesters are every day Thai’s who just want better from their country and better for their life.
Red or yellow, green or blue it’s the same faces of the Thai people that are behind the shirts and hopefully they can all join together at some point for the betterment of the country.