There goes the neighborhood…
I’ve been riveted to the coverage of the upheaval in Bangkok over the past few weeks and really, the past couple of years. Above is a neighborhood market in which I spent quite a bit of time on my last visit in 2008. It’s quite an event and while it doesn’t have the spiffy look of many other markets I’ve visited in the U.S. and Canada, it’s a gathering place and a totally fascinating place to immerse yourself in daily life close to the ground.
The lower photo is from Al Jazeera this morning and it’s the same roadway you see above. There have been dozens of people killed in the current confrontations between the government and protestors over the last week and things have actually been pretty dicey since a few weeks after my last visit. I had a long talk with a cab driver about things on my way to the airport as I was leaving the last time and it didn’t seem like it was going to be a simple problem then.
The situation has grown progressively worse since that time. This morning, the stock exchange and the state television station were on fire, along with other buildings in the central city. A few stops down on the Skytrain from where these photos were taken is a high end shopping mall where we shopped a couple of years earlier. It was destroyed by fire within the past 24 hours.
The King of Thailand has been on the throne since 1946 and while he does not reign over the country, which is a democracy, he is revered by the Thais and can have a tempering effect when the opportunity arises. Now 82 years old, it’s easy to wonder how much worse things might be without that unifying icon in the country.
Having been to a place seems to give us a special connection to things that are happening there and it’s something we notice a lot when we’re watching the news, Amazing Race or other programs that take us back. I hope they get it sorted out there soon.