I don’t know if many of you are keeping up with the situation in Thailand with the Red Shirt protesters and their clash with the government, but I wanted to let everyone know that we are safe and sound. We left Bangkok May 14th, at 9:20pm on a flight to Phuket, Thailand.
We had gotten to Bangkok on Wednesday, May 12th, at 9:00am after an overnight train from Chiang Mai. At this point, the protests had simmered down but the protesters were still encamped in the same area that they have been occupying since March. There had not been any violence for a while so we assumed our plans wouldn’t be affected. For one thing, the protests are happening in a very small area of the city. Bangkok has approximately 6.3 million people so think of it as basically Houston (times 3 though). The protests were not happening in the tourist parts of the city so tourists could keep clear of it.
Well, on Thursday, there was a death during a clash between the military and the protesters. We did not know about the renewed violence since we had taken a day trip to Ayuthaya, 40 km north of the city. We had gotten back to Bangkok around 7:00pm and we were trying to use the Skytrain system to get some good nighttime views of the city. When we approached one of the entrances to the Skytrain system, the gates were closed. Many other Thais walked up and read the note posted on the gate (which was written all in Thai except for the last line, “Sorry for any inconvenience.”) and turned around, looking confused. Apparently this wasn’t normal. Later we would find out that due to the clash, the city had shut down all of the public transportation in the area of the protests. At this point, we took a cab back to our guest house.
On Friday, we found out more about the situation and knew that we were leaving at a good time. We had heard sirens while we were touring the Grand Palace and had seen military personnel around the various municipal buildings. On our way to the airport, the taxi driver had to go a different route to avoid the street/highway closures to the protests. This ended up costing us an additional 100 baht ($3). There were several checkpoints along the way to the airport and our taxi was randomly pulled over for a check. The military personnel looked in the trunk which was full of our backpacks and looked at us in the back seat and then waved the taxi driver on.
So we got a little bit of excitement added to our time in Bangkok due to the protests but we were never anywhere near the danger zone.
You can follow the latest news at the Bangkok Post.
We are currently enjoying some relaxation time in the southern islands of Thailand. We will try to post another story soon.