Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Long, Strange Trip--But I Like It

I'm halfway into my 10-week journey. On Saturday I get on a train and leave Bangkok for smaller cities--Khorat, Nakhon Phanom, Roi Et--and a quick jaunt into Laos. I'm looking forward to being in places without rapid transit and shopping palazzos. Two weeks without days filled with artificial light is just fine with me.

I'm blessed with friends in Bangkok and that's why I'm here--that and the river, which I love with an unreasoning passion. This trip has been different from any other time I've spent here because of the cordons of protesters at key points throughout the city. Places I often enjoy going to are filled with tents and people with whistles. Lumpini Park, one of the most beautiful urban oases I've ever been to, is a campground--a clean and tidy campground true, but not its usual quiet sanctuary. The delightful chaos of Silom Road is a long line of vendors selling patriotic accessories. Victory Monument is clear of tents at last but when I was there yesterday it was still not up to full and glorious speed. Maybe today....

When I return to Bangkok, perhaps the riverboats won't be crowded to full and terrifying capacity, the buses will be running full-tilt again, and the stages and tents will be gone. It seems as though the point of Shutdown Bangkok has been achieved. The world knows--as does all of Asia--what the grievances are. Now it might be time to start the dialogues between factions before the violence gets ramped up. At least I hope the talking and listening begins soon. Please, no more Thai people hurting Thai people.

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