We are just coming to the end of the second day of the occupation of Bangkok’s main shopping street by the red shirts. I went back again this afternoon. There seemed to be less people there today, but as they were more spread out down the road as far as the eye could see, I would think it was possible that there were more. This morning there was speculation that the red shirts would set up yet another protest site, this time in Silom which is another tourist area.
This was the second day that all the big shopping malls, such as Siam Discovery, Paragon and Central World were closed due to the protests. I am not sure why they all had to close. Due to the sky train, many visitors enter the malls from the sky bridges and never actually go down to the street level. And as one of the rally speakers said, there are a lot of red shirt supporters who would have visited the malls to buy stuff.
Like most of the other red shirt rallies I have visited, there was almost a carnival like atmosphere. Everyone was relaxed and were keen to have some fun. I have also taken pictures at the yellow shirt rallies. I don’t want to take sides here, but the only time I have really felt unsafe was from the attitude of the yellow shirt guards. Some of them were really scary people.
Today there were many more street vendors along the road selling food, drinks and souvenirs. There were also quite a few curious foreign tourists who may have been mistaken in thinking that they had wandered into a red themed carnival or even temple fair as there were a number of monks there too. I saw foreigners on a tuk tuk waving red flags and shaking their foot clappers that they had bought. Others were posing while having their picture taken in front of the red shirt supporters.
I am not going to say that it is going to be 100% safe. But, I would fear more from the action of the army or police than any danger that the red shirt people would present. Many of them were here with their families. Some of them very young but still wearing red shirts. I never once felt in danger and I was always welcomed wherever I went. Like I have said before, Bangkok, and even more so Thailand, is a big place and you shouldn’t have much to worry about. But, you do need to be flexibile as we don’t really know what will happen next.
As always, you can follow my updates on Twitter @RichardBarrow. I also posted some moblogs from my iPhone while I was still at the rally site this afternoon. Take a look at www.MyThailandBlog.com to see the red shirt toilets in the middle of the road!