Chiang Mai - The calm before the storm?

Click on pic to see full-size photoV for victory signs from the cheerful pro-government supporters based at Chiang Mai's Warorat Grand Palace hotel earlier today ...

It was more of a party atmosphere at the headquarters of the red shirts on Friday afternoon. A big pro-government rally is planned for Saturday, with the high point of the day supposedly a phone call from exiled former PM and red shirt hero Thaksin sometime during Saturday evening. I plan on being around during the day to get a few photos and chat to some of the demonstrators (assuming the missiles don't start to fly...)

Click on pic to see full-size photoPAD headquarters, Chiang Mai

The sensationalist press bombards us with images of conflict but the real story is people sitting around waiting for 95% of the time. Tuk-tuk driver 'Beum' drove me a couple of miles to the opposition PAD base, in one of those middle-class walled estates you find dotted around town. Just before arriving he suddenly slammed on the brakes. He'd nearly forgotten to remove the red ribbon tied to his aerial. Could have been nasty...

Here there was definitely more of a siege mentality - understandable really, as unlike their strongholds in the south the yellow shirts in Chiang Mai are in a small minority.

Click on pic to see full-size photoHidden behind a wall just around the corner from the PAD base, home-made shields

Rumours are flying about that a fleet of buses as well as a train-load of PAD supporters are on their way here. There is a definite feeling that trouble is imminent in a city that so far has been relatively unaffected by the conflicts in the Thai capital. It would be ironic if after months of tension down south in Bangkok, it all came to a head here over the next couple of days...

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