Crisis in Thailand? What crisis. Mai pen lai ...

It was getting pretty chilly watching the DAAD pro-democracy concert taking place at the Three Kings monument in the centre of the walled city, a tribute to the founders of the city of Chiang Mai. No accident that this location had been chosen – symbolic of the protest movement’s determination to be seen and heard at the heart of the capital of northern Thailand, one of its strongholds.

However even the attractive dancers did little to warm things up in the unseasonal cold, and the music was at least as bad as the racket constantly bombarding listeners to ASTV, the PAD (People’s Alliance for, cough, Democracy) TV propaganda channel. What it must be like for the demonstrators on the spot at Government House and the airport, subjected to a combination of that racket plus megaphone indoctrination all day long, week after week... no wonder they’re all acting so crazy.

Click on any photos in this blog, small or large, to see the full-size photos

At the Chiang Mai concert red shirts were gradually being covered up with other hues of clothing. 6 pm; time to leave.

Plenty of free food on offer at the DAAD (Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship) concert - but with all due respect to this version of Thai music, my ears couldn't take any more

Multiple official warnings from nations around the world are being issued with respect to travel to Thailand, but they are hardly needed - the effects of the crisis are already beginning to bite hard. I mostly avoid the Chiang Mai Sunday Market – overpriced, heaving with bodies, even outside the high season. Usually it feels something like a Bangkok traffic jam – a step forward, a long pause... you spot a small gap to squeeze into, jump in... only for your new lane to grind to a halt as half a dozen battleship-shaped Germans coo over some trinket, oblivious to the effect they are having on traffic flow. The Thais, being excessively polite, never lean on their horns. Everyone waits patiently.

Pretty quiet around the market, whether handicraft or food stalls...

The most direct route back was via the Sunday Market, so I chanced it. Well into the ‘busy’ time of year, yet despite this a first for me – being able to stroll from one end of Walking Street to the other, barely having to break stride.

A group of US tourists without a care in the world... after a few glasses of ginseng wine

Yes there were some people about, but mainly Thais; the farangs were few and far between. The Thai traders’ smiles were firmly fixed in place; but was it my imagination – they seemed a little forced. It was a strange sensation, once out of the highly charged political atmosphere of the concert arena, back amongst ordinary folk just trying to get on with their lives. A recent poll suggested some 60% of Thais were losing interest in the whole long drawn-out debacle. I can understand that – apathy creeping in, along with embarrassment at the loss of face for Thailand on the world stage. But the same 60% also believed that the Thai constitutional courts were best placed to sort out the whole mess in an objective, unbiased manner. Now there’s naivety for you!

There’s so much to be admired about the Thai approach to life, the “sabai sabai, mai pen rai” attitude - roughly equating to the message of the Bob Marley classic “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” - has its good points. Why worry about those things you cannot change? But this mindset has its limitations, leaves Thailand’s people open to exploitation by the more unscrupulous. The “it’ll all turn out alright” approach plays right into the hands of those powerful puppeteers pulling the strings.

Drat .. wanted to avoid politics in this post, and I’ve slipped up several times already!

Still you just can’t avoid the evidence of your own eyes. Loi Kroh Chiang Mai, 8pm Sunday night, and deserted. A sad sight.

On the political front (sorry again ;-) PM Somchai flew back into Chiang Mai at lunchtime today to be greeted by crowds of supporters who ‘escorted’ him back to his home... New appeals were broadcast by military chiefs asking all those involved to step back from confrontation by way of respect for the Monarch’s forthcoming birthday... Ominous threats issued from the same sources however, aimed at the demonstrators (ie the DAAD pro-democracy supporters), warning them of serious consequences should they come out in force after the courts rule on the legitimacy or otherwise of the governing political parties, tomorrow, Tuesday. (I think we all can guess what that decision will be)... The police are dropping fliers from helicopters onto the main Bangkok airport, ordering PAD to leave the premises (riiiight – that’s bound to work)... 240,000 tourists currently stuck in Thailand trying to get a flight out, and counting, tens of thousands more trying to leave each day... violent incidents are spreading ... and even my flight back to France on December 18th is looking a bit touch and go right now.

Still, you never know what tomorrow will bring, so as the Thais say, mai pen lai ...

To finish on a positive note... with a knitting needle and some string ...

... these can be made. Never ceases to amaze me, the creative talents you see on every street corner.

Venus, Jupiter and the crescent Moon in conjunction tonight. Get the distinct feeling that they're having a good laugh at our antics ;-)


Hoo Don said...

December 18th is the day I am flying to Thailand, starting to have my doubts about that happening. The dancer in the top photo, very nice, one can only assume her under garments were DAAD red.

FrogBlogger said...

18th? I have the perfect solution! You stay in Europe and look after my teenage bratsxxxxx kids who break up for the Xmas hols on the 19th, and I'll stay in Thailand, and look after your interests for you. Deal?

Britinbangkok said...

Well said. I'm losing all patience with Thailand myself and beginning to think I'd be better off somewhere else.

The Constitutional Court is a farce, everybody knew they would kick out the PPP because that's the only way they can get the government out (note I did not say 'legally'). And guess what, even though the government have effectively been kicked out, the PAD are still saying they'll stay at the airport. Surprise, surprise.

What a joke Thailand is eh? And sure people are embarrassed about what the rest of the world thinks of them, but what do most of them do about it really? Not much at all.

Hoo Don said...

Will give that offer a miss, although I'm sure your kids are perfect angels. With all your on the spot reporting, in the thick of the action, perhaps you should NIP down to see Mr Lee for a touch of cosmetic surgery, then you could swing your handbag through the Sunday market looking like the true Kate Adie of the North.....if I do take up your offer, can I keep all the kids pocket money.

Rumela said...

wow!its a nice picture in here.after visit your post totally spellbound myself.This does sound delicious with all those lovely, colorful ingredients.