This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.
There be Red Shirts…
Thursday afternoon I tried to focus on a Friday post. Sigh. But I could not, would not settle. With everything going on this weekend, there was too much on my mind.
The closer the Red Shirt rallies came, the more alarming the news.
- Protesters plan to paralyse Bangkok: city could burn
- Thailand braces for massive political protests
- Petrol sales and deliveries in Bangkok suspended
Expats started phoning one another asking, “what do we stock up on?” The one thing everyone agreed on was wine. Oh, and water. So two.
Giving up on my intended Friday post, I called Khun Pissout to arrange a pickup mid-Friday. To, you know… go see what was happening.
So, armed with a couple of cameras and the Hot Spot map from ThaiVisa, off I went.
Driving around Bangkok was total bliss. No traffic. There was also a lack of Red Shirts at 11am. Instead, there was plenty of police and army dressed in their greens, getting ready for the onslaught of red.
Various government buildings were decorated in their handy red and white stripes.
Government buildings were also being tarted up with barbed wire along fence tops.
Nothing happening here…
Inside the city, I came across one Red Shirt driving by. One. But as the Red Shirts weren’t even supposed to leave their prospective homes until noon, no surprises there.
The plan (as I was told): The Red Shirts from the north were to amass in their home towns, pile into the back of pickups, and drive to another group closer to Bangkok. Talk, talk, talk. Drive to another town. Talk, talk, talk. So the lack of red in Bangkok this Friday was to be expected.
Bored with it all (and not finding out about ‘the plan’ quite yet), I drove to Ayutthaya to see the buses so kindly donated by the government to bring the Red Shirts in.
The buses are to alleviate the extra traffic from pickups coming loaded down with Red Shirts. But WHAT weekend traffic? The regular (alarming) reports from the Thai government made sure that Bangkok is dead, dead, dead.
Question: How are the hordes of Red Shirts expected to cram into seven buses? No matter. While I was there it was only the army, the police, the press, and me. No Red Shirts = no need for hundreds of buses. Yet.
And I still haven’t found out if anyone got on those buses. The jokes going around giggled about where the Thai government would take the Reds getting on buses. In circles? They were not sure (but they had a grand time with the chortles).
On the main roads coming back into Bangkok, posts were manned by even more army and police.
Some included rows of men kitted out in riot gear.
Once back in Bangkok, Red Shirts starting appearing under trees.
And just like before, the sale of red t-shirts were hot, hot, hot. Khun Pissout asked if I wanted to buy a shirt for Sunday, but I declined. I’m not a migrant worker, but laws have a way of being fluid in Thailand and so I didn’t want to push it (and besides, I don’t look good in red).
Bangkok Post: Thailand will imprison and hand out heavy fines to any migrant workers who attend mass anti-government rallies in Bangkok this weekend, the labour minister said Tuesday.
Kids came along for the fun as well.
Closer to home, there they were. More Red Shirts.
And that was that (for Friday). But please stay tuned for more Red Shirts over the weekend!
Previous Red Shirt posts…
- Red Shirts Yellow Shirts or Thailand?
- Red Shirts at Victory Monument
- Happy Songkran (Red Shirts) Day
More photos can be found at Catherine Wentworth : Photography : Red Shirts.
PS: Apologies for being fast and furious with this post… more later… but gotta run as everyone was given a half day off (so time to use up all that wine 😉
13 thoughts on “The Red Shirts are in Bangkok. Once Again.”
Yes, Thai ways do continue on no matter what 🙂
There is a fear that bad elements on either side will up the ante, but… who knows.
The uniforms are awesome and not one of them were sweating. Can you imagine what it’s like under all that… plastic(?)
Have a great trip into Thailand! And please let me know how it goes for you.
Thanks for your thoughts Cat. Of course, I should realise the Thai approach to life applies to demonstrations as well 🙂
It is good that all parties are generally friendly to outsiders in tense situations like this.
I agree with the other comments that some of the uniforms are awesome.
Rick, During the rallies (this year and the past), I’ve been warmly welcomed by the Red Shirts, the army, and the police. And if I had been running around during the Yellow Shirts, I’m sure the welcome would be the same.
Thanks for the kudos! I was wondering just what was on the news in the west. The BBC in Thailand only touches on what’s going on and it’s usually way after the fact (or skipping right over).
The Robocops are fabulous (and none take a bad pic). I waggled my camera and most smiled back. Standing in the middle of those uniforms was like being on the set of a sci-fi movie.
I met many interesting people today. It’s a pity I did not have the time to write everything up (that will have to come later).
Cat, I echo kaewmala’s comment. Those photos document very well what’s (not) going on. Friday here in the west I scanned dozens of news agency photos at work and not one of them was able to tell me the story you did. Not one! You got some really nice shots: the Robocop gear, empty expanses on the streets, the official (journalist?) taking photos of a bus. Your pix tell a very different story. Well done! I also admire your guts. Sometimes photo takers are not always welcome.
.-= SiamRick´s last blog ..Canadian boys need to toughen up =-.
Thanks Talen. All of those photos were taken from the back seat of a taxi (at times speeding by quite fast). So I’m ok with some of the results this run (not all though). My camera does not always come through for me in distance shots, so I’ll check the settings to see what I did different this time.
I haven’t been out today to see what’s happening, so safe (at the moment) is definitely on the books!
Some great photos, Cat. Hopefully this will be a peaceful affair but I guess that will all depend on the governments reaction and how many reds actually show up.
Thanks Kaewmala! I put this post up so quickly, that I’m having to edit in the parts I didn’t have time for. Yesterday was back-to-back rushing around (and I loved every bit of it).
Cat, Thanks for the great and timely photos. Great images, esp. of the soldiers in terminator gears. 🙂 They tell a great story. Keep up the good work.
.-= kaewmala´s last blog ..Three Days of Abandonment, the Lady’s Heart Changes – Or the Man’s? =-.
Jeff, No need to be nervous about coming to Bangkok as the Red Shirts are mostly peace loving (as were the Yellows). Of course, in any large population there will be a few violent members, but you will find that on both sides of the political coin.
I’m wondering about heading out again later this afternoon… but I’ll have to see how my day goes. I’m so far behind right now, that catching up is taking up most of my time.
I’ll be out Sunday morning, for sure.
Thanks for the very current view of what is happening over there. I’m arriving Tuesday night, so watching what is happening with some nervousness.
I hope you & all your family & friends stay safe (with lots of wine) throughout the next few days. Good luck!
Sophie, As requested, I’ve added the download to the post Recording the Thai National Anthem.
Hi Sophie. Welcome to WLT, and thanks for the kudos! WLT is certainly a labor of love for me as it’s been a hoot writing and researching for the posts and resources.
I can send you the url for Khun Niwat’s sound files. No prob. In fact, I’ve been meaning to make all the sound files on WLT downloadable (time).
Hello Cat, I have recently discovered your blog and it is a jewel. I live in the U.S. and have recently begun to learn Thai. Your blog has been wonderfully helpful in listing resources and encouragement. I especially loved Khun Niwat’s rendition of the Thai national anthem! Is there a way to get a cd recording of that? I have been looking for Thai music but have not had much luck here in the states. Please keep up the excellent work. I look forward to dropping in each day to read what has been written.