June 1-8, 2010
You can tell that Bangkok is returning to its definition of normal when motorcycles flock to the head of the motoring queue. Yes, this is one of our many multi-minute traffic lights. But, why does my side always draw the really long red light?
PS: Our neighbors are growing.
A few years ago THOCBDC reader David, from New Mexico, asked me to take some photos of his old Bangkok school: Bangkok International School. Back then I located its structures in some buildings owned by the Holy Redeemer Church that is located near us on Raum Rudee. It had been turned into an auxilliary for converting crackers into flesh and minds into mush, or so they say.
Now, it is being torn down.
Crossing fingers, I hope that the owners of Nana, Patpong or Cowboy have purchased this land for a new warren of brothels.
PS: When are they going to upgrade the confessionals in the adjacent Jesus pit ... to say nothing about those vile holy water tanks?
June 3, 2010
The Department of State has canceled the May 27, 2010 Travel Warning for Thailand due to improvements in safety and security conditions throughout the country. The Thai government ended the nightly curfew May 29, 2010.
This message reminds U.S. citizens that a State of Emergency remains in effect in the following provinces:
A State of Emergency gives the police and military increased powers to maintain public order. Specifically, security forces have the authority to:
You might encounter security forces personnel at roadblocks or other security checkpoints. If you do, you should obey all instructions from them. Be sure to carry identification and proof of your U.S. citizenship at all times to present if asked by authorities.
There were numerous incidents of explosive attacks, including several isolated grenade and arson attacks, in and around Bangkok and Chiang Mai over the past two months. Additional explosive devices were 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. You should 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.
Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence with little or no warning. You should avoid areas that may be targeted for demonstrations and exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations or large gatherings. You should monitor local media to keep updated with the latest information of any demonstrations and areas to avoid.
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
The American Citizen Services section of the U.S. Embassy Bangkok
The U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai
A beautiful stormy night coincided with the lifting of danger warnings
This morning, for the first time, I took the SkyTrain from my local station, Ploenchit, to the station at Chitlom in order to get a live view of the damage caused by the fires that were started on May 19th after the Thai army forced the Red Shirts to abandon their occupation of this commercial area of downtown Bangkok. Walking along the elevated SkyTrain station that runs from Chitlom to the Central World shopping site I saw the horrific evidence of the fires. While other buildings in the area appeared to be unharmed*, Central World and Zen World were totally destroyed. Central World was a shopping complex largely made up of hundreds of individual tenants who operated their own shops under this big roof. They now have no place to go. Zen World was like a Macy's, but it also had individually 'owned' shops so the pain was widespread.
* Many places in Siam Square were also destroyed as was the famous and elderly Siam movie theater. Bangkok also suffered damages in many other places.
PS: Here are maps showing the location of Central World and the Zen Department Store.
The Oriental hotel is almost empty due to the predictable down season and the less than predictable Red Shirt occupation of Bangkok's main shopping streets. The latter was the biggest foe.
Living in Bangkok is never uneventful. This morning I got stuck in an automatic car wash; the operators could not get the ground feed (moving rollers) to roll. This afternoon my visit to our local park, Lumpini, was brightened up by the appearance of the largest lizard that I have ever seen outside a museum.
This does not look very safe.
Silom Road has pretty much returned to normal. The area near Sala Daeng was hardest hit during the recent disturbances. The views here show the road as I was driving roughly west from the SE corner of Lumpini Park ... through the Bangrak section of downtown Bangkok ... to Charoen Krung Road.
Next: Part II