Thursday evening, the second night under curfew has started. The government has announced that these will last through the weekend. There were very few reported incidents today apart from a brief confrontation between about 100 protesters and a few police officers up near Victory Monument, and an arson attack on another bank branch. Relatively speaking, things are calm both here in Bangkok and in the provinces.
To be certain, no long-term fix has been found to the political situation. But for now, at least, things are calmer.
Lines around lunchtime at the local Villa Market were twenty deep as residents of the Thong Lor neighborhood and beyond rushed to stock up on supplies. With all the malls closed and many of the supermarkets, the Villa Markets in the mid-Sukhumvit area have been some of the few proper supermarkets that are open. We are stocked up enough to get us through the weekend.
This afternoon, Ajarn Yai, the retired school director pictured below for whom I volunteered as an English teacher a few years ago, called and expressed her concern. Her worry? How bad these events will make Thailand and the Thais look in the eyes of the world. She wants everyone to know that this isn’t Thailand and this is not how Thai people are. So there you have it, from her lips to your screen.
One of the most useful sources of information in the past 48 hours has been Michael Yon, the freelance American writer, photograph, and former Green Beret. With loads of war zone experience he has been reporting from Bangkok and has provided a near-continuous stream of information and updates through his Facebook page. Hundreds of locals have started following and commenting on his feed as he has provided a unique insight both in terms of quantity and also in terms of providing his military knowledge.
Best of all, he has been very generous in giving permission to people to use his photos. All he asks for is attribution and a link to his page. Here are some pictures:
Northeast corner of Rama IV and Ratchadamri looking down Rama IV towards Sathorn. Lumpini Park in the foreground with Silom subway entrance visible. The large barricade has been removed and there is a small army of city workers who have been cleaning the park. Still a lot of debris and damage to the pavement.
Damage to shops (possible a bank?) at Siam Square. On the far right of the picture is Siam BTS Skytrain station. From what I’ve heard, both the Siam and Scala cinemas were destroyed. Many small shops were also destroyed, ruining the livelihoods of the independent owners of those businesses.
Michael and a Thai reporter he was traveling with spoke with one of those owners, who went into her shop trying to salvage inventory. As you can see, things are pretty well destroyed here. Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) reports that because of the damage, the buildings that house the cinemas and shops (Siam Square Sois 5 and 6) will likely need to be demolished.
Damage at Central World. This is the front side, the Zen department store that faces Rama I road. From what Michael reports, it looks like the damage was limited mostly to the department store and this end of the mall. The remainder of the mall looks like it might be okay.
Same building but around the corner looking back towards Rama I Road and Siam Square. The central structure of the department store collapsed after the fire. BMA also says that because of the extent of damage, this structure will need to be demolished. Now, the reports are that the BMA is saying that Central World will have to be demolished, which I would interpret as the entire mall. However, this doesn’t seem to jive with the firsthand reports from Michael so we’ll have to wait and see what the truth is over the days and weeks to come.
The seven-story Big C superstore and mall across the street from Central World also was destroyed by fire and will need to be torn down. The first floor or two of that is filled with small, independently-owned shops. Anger vented at “elites” managed to do more damage to “common people” than anything else.
Finally, not from Michael’s website but floating around from various Thai bloggers, this picture that compares a clip from Resident Evil 4 to the real skyline of Bangkok yesterday. The film shows downtown Los Angeles, the other City of Angels, on fire. Eerie, isn’t it?