April 26-30, 2010
Can you believe it? On our first night back in Bangkok I was the only one who ordered soi food. Everyone else wanted Burger King.
The day we left Florida I received this email from my minder:
Message to the Americans in Thailand
Town Hall meeting: Monday, April 26, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. at the J.W. Marriott, 4 Sukhumvit Road, Soi 2, Bangkok, in the large ballroom.
You are invited to attend a Town Hall meeting on Monday. Ambassador Eric G. John, along with other officials from the Embassy, will be present to discuss the current situation in Bangkok.
The Town Hall meeting for American citizens only will be held on Monday, April 26, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. at the J.W. Marriott, 4 Sukhumvit Road, Soi 2, Bangkok, in the large ballroom. The J.W. Marriott can be reached at 66-2-656-7700.
Bring your passport or other form of U.S. citizenship! You must present proof of U.S. citizenship at the door in order to be allowed in to the Town Hall meeting. You will not be admitted without proof of U.S. citizenship.
Acceptable forms of U.S. citizenship are:
This opportunity is intended for American citizens and is an off-the-record meeting intended to inform American citizens about the latest developments in Bangkok.
The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy can be reached by phone at 66-2-205-4049 and by e-mail at ACSBKK@State.gov.
Less than 24 hours after arriving in Bangkok I attended this meeting. Yes, they checked our passports and the JW Marriott's ballroom was filled to chair capacity and then some. I figured that there were about 600 Americans in the room.
The sex ratio was about 20 to 1 in favor of males. NB: The JW Marriott is just two streets away from Soi Nana.
This morning the clip of Thaksin was censored. Just after he was asked by CNN if he wanted to say anything to his supporters the TV screen filled with an announcement about a loss of satellite signal. A few seconds later coverage was back minus Thaksin.
PS: No red shirts in sight.
Things are getting bad outside.
But, I am getting a foot massage and Watcharee is taking a nap.
Updated on April 28, 2010
The State Department alerts U.S. citizens traveling to and residing in Thailand of ongoing demonstrations in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Due to escalating violence in central Bangkok, demonstrations in Chiang Mai, and other incidents throughout Thailand, all U.S. citizens should avoid nonessential travel to Thailand. This replaces the Travel Alert dated April 22, 2010, to update information on security concerns and to recommend against nonessential travel to Thailand at this time. This Travel Alert will expire on July 28, 2010.
The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (aka UDD or "red-shirts") continues to demonstrate in central Bangkok. The UDD may change or expand its demonstration locations at any time. Various other groups are engaging in pro-government or counter-demonstrations in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. There have been several minor clashes between the UDD and other demonstrators. These clashes may escalate with no warning. For areas currently affected by demonstrations, please refer to local media.
Political demonstrations by the UDD are expected to continue in Bangkok indefinitely. As a result, traffic congestion and difficulty of movement is possible throughout Bangkok, and traffic patterns may change unexpectedly as demonstrators block roads. Other forms of transportation, such as the BTS Skytrain, may close unexpectedly in response to threats or incidents, such as occurred on April 27, when protesters jumped onto the tracks and tried to block the tracks with tires.
There have been numerous incidents of explosive attacks, including several isolated grenade attacks, in and around Bangkok and Chiang Mai over the past two months. Additional explosive devices have been discovered before detonation. Some of these incidents occurred at or near areas frequented by U.S. citizens. These incidents appear to be motivated by domestic politics and do not appear to be acts of international terrorism. The possibility of more such attacks cannot be ruled out. U.S. citizens are reminded to exercise caution and vigilance at all times. Immediately report to law enforcement or security personnel any unattended packages or bags or suspicious objects in public areas.
Supporters of a pro-Government movement known as "mixed shirts," "no color," or "multi-color" have begun nightly demonstrations in the Nimmanhemin area of Chiang Mai city, near Chiang Mai University, an area frequented by U.S. citizens. Media report that these supporters intend to repeat these nightly demonstrations indefinitely. Supporters of the UDD may confront these demonstrations. In the past, similar confrontations have turned violent.
On Saturday, April 10, UDD and Royal Thai Government security forces clashed in the Phanfa Bridge area, resulting in a number of fatalities. On April 27, UDD protesters clashed with police near the Thai Air Force headquarters at Don Muang. The UDD stopped and entered vehicles looking for military and police personnel. Media report that UDD leaders plan to block the movement of security forces from the provinces to Bangkok.
UDD supporters have threatened demonstrations in the provinces if its current demonstrations in Bangkok are forcibly dispersed, as occurred April 9, 10, and 24. Therefore, U.S. citizens should monitor public sources of information to stay abreast of the latest information concerning demonstrations and areas to avoid.
On the evening of April 22, 2010, several explosions occurred in the Silom/Sala Daeng area at the Sala Daeng BTS Skytrain station causing a number of injuries, including at least one fatality. The possibility of more such attacks cannot be ruled out. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to and lodging in this area.
The Royal Thai Government, under the order of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, is still operating under a State of Emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas, that grants special powers to the Royal Thai Police and Army. It is unclear what additional steps the Royal Thai Government may take under the State of Emergency.
U.S. citizens are reminded that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence with little or no warning. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid the areas that may be targeted for demonstrations and to exercise caution in their movements around Bangkok.
The Department strongly encourages U.S. citizens in Thailand to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok or through the State Department's travel registration website. For information on general crime and security issues, U.S. citizens may also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Thailand and the Worldwide Caution, located at the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website. U.S. citizens may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 from the United States and Canada, or 202-501-4444 from overseas.
The American Citizen Services section of the U.S. Embassy Bangkok is located at 95 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand. The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy can be reached by calling 66-2-205-4049 and by e-mail at email@example.com. The emergency after-hours telephone number is 66-2-205-4000.
The U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai is located at 387 Wichayanond Road in Chiang Mai. The American Citizen Services Unit of the Consulate General can be reached by calling 66-53-107-777 and by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The after-hours emergency telephone number is 66-81-881-1878.
As a reminder, U.S. citizens are urged to exercise caution and good judgment while travelling in Bangkok and should be aware of the possibility of disturbances elsewhere. Americans are also encouraged to:
PS: Most of the troubles took place on the highway near the old airport. Al Jazeera had the best TV coverage ... though I take credit for one live shot of a tire blockade while I was driving to get petrol.
PPS: The papers said:
Back to my old hobby.
PS: My friend, Dan, from Shanghai and Taipei sent this photo of the Thai Pavilion in Shanghai.