I began writing this post last night but had to delete everything once the bullets starting flying around 6-8pm Bangkok time. After a month of redshirt protests in Bangkok, things have finally come to a head. The protests thus far had been peaceful and the government has seen no real need to negotiate seriously with the redshirts. The most recent reports I’ve heard are that 20 people have been killed. One Reuters photographer from Japan was killed and the rest being soldiers and protesters.
I am perfectly safe.
All of the activity is taking place over an area of one to two square miles of the downtown area. I’m about two miles from the closest redshirt roadblock and another mile or so from all the clashes. Walking around the neighborhood in my area, I would never know that anything was going on in the city.
Several expats and travelers I know in Bangkok live in the Victory Monument area which was the scene of protests yesterday. They were much closer to action and could hear gunshots and could smell the tear gas which was dropped. Correction: The protesters were not at Victory Monument. The people I know live near there, but were elsewhere when they heard gunshots and smelled gas.
People like Arthur Frommer are advocating totally avoiding Thailand which is absurd.
Thailand is a big country. What happened here was a tragedy, but it occurred only on a few streets in one part of one city on one evening. There were tanks and soldiers all over the place so it was impossible for someone to accidentally wander into the area and not know something was going on. Saying you shouldn’t visit any part of Thailand based on the events of last Saturday is like saying you shouldn’t visit California if there is a school shooting in Colorado. They have nothing to do with each other and danger in the former doesn’t imply danger in the latter.
Could things really turn bad in Thailand? Sure, that is possible. But as of right now things are fine and if things really do turn bad, I’ll be on the first plane out of here.
When you hear of bad things happening on the news, take some time to find out the whole story. Unless a country is the size of Monaco or Singapore, it is hard to say that an event in one part of the country means the whole country is dangerous. I wouldn’t go to parts of Mexico right now, but that doesn’t mean everywhere in Mexico is equally dangerous. Most Americans wont flee the country because something bad happens in one city.
Use the same logic for other countries as you do for your own.