Visiting with red shirts protesters

rollin' with Khun Thaksin

(getting our picture taken with a cardboard cutout of Takshin Shinawatra)

Last week I went to Ratchadamnoen Ave and talked to some red shirt protesters. I’m going to refrain from too much political commentary about them, and mostly just talk about my experience. At the moment the protests are not violent, so I felt safe walking around.

For those not in Bangkok, at the moment the protesters occupy a huge stretch of Ratchadamnoen Ave. The road is closed to traffic and you can walk down the entire length. At one end, there is Sanam Luang (a big open field), people camp in tents, and also many buses and vehicles are parked. People have set up field kitchens where they cook and share food, and also many cafetarias are set up where protesters can get free food:

getting a free lunch

There are first-aid clinics for protesters:

first aid station for red shirts

There’s even one place where you can get massages!

massages for protesters

I was surprised to find how nice and welcoming people were. Me and my friend stuck out like sore thumbs, as we were 1) not Thai and 2) not wearing any red shirts, but most people were really friendly, and seemed happy that we were interested in what they’re doing. Some of the friendliness was of the “holy shit, a dancing monkey”-type love that many Thai people have for foreigners, which I’ve long ago seized to enjoy, but I did sense a genuine kindness and sense of hospitality from many people. They seemed to want to put a positive face on what they were doing, and show us that they weren’t bad guys. Many people offered us food and cold water, as it was very hot out.

One of the small side streets, which is normally full of ladyboy and gay bars had been taken over by a new clientele of red shirts drinking beer and watching Thai political news on TV. One of the ladyboy hostesses was getting into the spirit of things by wearing a red bustier:

ladyboy hostess getting into the red shirt spirit

Even some small dogs were protesting! (and taking photo ops)

dogs for democracy

One of the funniest thing that happened is while many news channels are filming and taking pictures of the red shirts, protesters stopped me and my friend to get their picture taken with us!

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A blog about culture and technology in South-East Asia.

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