Bangkok Troubles at Thai-Belgium Bridge

Troops marching toward Thai-Belgian bridge. Notice the traffic jam monitor is red where the protests are. How appropriate.

So the Red Shirt problem just came to the end of our driveway you might say. We stay on Sathorn Road just about 700 meters from the southeast corner of the Red Shirt area. We crossed the street to grab a coffee and noticed troops in formation halfway down the road toward the Thai-Belgian bridge where protestors had attacked and taken some military vehicles.


Bystanders shouted spontaneously “Kill them!” A couple Thai reporters waited in the shade. An angry bystander came over bellowing expletives at them. “Who are you? Are you police or reporters? For a newspaper?” He snorted. “You’re lucky you aren’t police. If you were police I was going to curse at you.”

We heard a couple of explosions which assured us these troops were not just guarding an escape route but about to engage. Coffee = bad idea. We stopped in our tracks and watched a moment and before we took three steps, the troops had arrived at the intersection. Bursts of gunfire, a bit of tear gas rose up beyond. The spectators who had just been shouting things to the troops such as “Kill them!” became a lot less aggressive and backed up down the walk. That’s when a line of humvees raced back on the opposite side toward us. Troops were up and armed and… firing shots?!? The crowd really scrambled now. It appeared as if they were (and haven’t we heard this before?) firing in all directions and at unarmed crowds. Obviously this is not what was happening. My theory is blanks fired to disperse crowd as they ran to set up in a support or fall back position at Soi Saladaeng. If their intention was to make people clear out, it worked. Probably cleared out a few GI tracts as well. We took shelter behind the building across from home. Shops which were remarkably open were now making a pretty quick decision to close. Folks scrambled out of the building and the shutters were coming down. After a few moments we ventured back to Sathorn where blockades were going up but people were cautiously returning to gawk. We ran back across and headed for home. The troops remain on alert below our building.

On TV we see troops have taken the Thai-Belgian bridge, but we have reports of a car being burned on Wireless Road in front of the US Embassy and another enclave of Red Shirts separated now from Lumpini, likely driven away from the bridge, and set up in front of a PTT station near the boxing stadium on Rama IV. Tires are burning. Troops are set up in a line holding the bridge.

Troops await at the ready back at Soi Saladaeng.

@KevinRevolinski

7 thoughts on “Bangkok Troubles at Thai-Belgium Bridge

  • May 14, 2010 at 4:01 pm
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    Rev, let me be your first RSS subscriber…I've got friends in Bangkok and they say it's pretty scary right now around the city. It's too bad they can't sit at a table and discuss things but when they are so far off on what each wants, it's hard to find a bargaining chip. Seems like all or nothing for the protesters.

    Still, it's not enough to make me want to stay away from Thailand. Haven't been back there for a few years and I think it's about time.

    Great reading your stuff, looking forward to reading your book on Turkey. I taught in rural Japan for 3 years and met my wife there. Traveling is one of life's great elixers, once you start, it's hard to stop!

    Thanks again!
    -Scott Cejka SNC class 93

    Reply
  • May 15, 2010 at 12:05 am
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    Yes, it was pretty bad last night and we are all peeking from under the covers this morning. The protester leaders fired up the crowd for two months with pretty aggressive rhetoric and imagery. Now the camp is split. On the stage they want to pretend these "other" red shirts have nothing to do with them, and they call on them to desist. Too late for that unfortunately.

    Nice to hear from you. Where are you now?

    Reply
  • May 16, 2010 at 4:36 pm
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    Kevin,

    I enjoyed living vicariously through your account while drinking a cup of coffee. You can live vicariously through me on the coffee part. Hope you eventually get that coffee and stay safe.

    Reply
  • May 16, 2010 at 6:05 pm
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    Craziness there. I'm back in Colorado. Been here on and off since 95. Sounds like you married into a Thai family? Is Bangkok home now or are you there for an extended stay?

    Do get back to Japan lots? What do you go there for?

    Reply
    • June 27, 2011 at 11:51 am
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      Hey J Scott, this may be the latest response ever! I don’t think I ever saw your post but judging by the date I was probably distracted a bit by Bangkok chaos. Yes I have Thai family now, but as of May 2011 it is not really home base; we are back in the States. I go to Japan once or twice a year for business. Chose to skip it at the end of March this year, not being sure at that point just how extensive the problems were. Plus some business contacts had already canceled our plans anyway.

      I’ll be quicker to respond next time! Promise!

      Reply
  • June 24, 2011 at 5:07 am
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    Travel can be a bit scary. Glad it was you and not me. I would like to visit Thailand and Cambodia but there is always that uncertainty about safety in some Asian countries. (mind I could get run over by a bus tomorrow here!) I am seriously thinking about Cambodia at the end of the year. Great blog post.

    Reply
    • June 27, 2011 at 11:57 am
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      So true. In fact, sadly, someone here in Madison Wisconsin was just run over by a bus and killed, so you don’t have to go all the way to some foreign land for danger. We sort of put ourselves in that Red Shirt situation last year. We had a great temporary living situation and were stubborn to move out knowing we’d never stay there again. That which does not kill us, makes a great story. 😉

      Reply

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