Tuesday, December 2, 2008
safety in bangkok
We arrived on Thanksgiving Day in Bangkok after a 12 hour bus ride from Siem Reap. Weary and a bit nervous about the political situation here, we trudged towards the backpacker district not sure what we'd find. Not surprisingly, all was well in perpetually-adolescent backpackerland: party buses and funny tshirts for sale, cheap food stalls and grown white men lying in the streets yaking or sobbing, depending on the type of alcohol they drank, I assume.
The next few days we spent seeing the gaudy royal palace, a giant golden reclining buddha, some famous wats and enjoyed eating. On our tree-lined mostly pedestrian street stood food stalls with freshly made pad thai for less than a dollar and concocted-as-you-stand fruit shakes for 60 cents. Oh, a budget traveler's heaven!
As for the supposedly chaotic airport hold-up here, it clearly did not effect anything we had planned to see or do. Just like the 1968 DNC riots in Chicago, I am sure the people in Beverly managed to make it through unscathed. Protests happen, they usually have particular objectives and those must be taken account of. These protesters are not trying to physically harm tourists (like the terrorists in India were), they just want to force to government to pay attention to them by inconveniencing a lot of loud whiny westerners which would get the attention of their home media organizations.
I know from watching CNN here that it seems like a scary situation, but it must be put into perspective: in the US, several people died and women miscarried in WalMarts on Black Friday being stomped to death by angry shopping mobs. Exactly zero foreigners have died in Bangkok from these protests. You had a better chance of being hurt shopping the day after Thanksgiving than I did watching the overgrown boys in cargo shorts and backwards baseball hats throw back shots here in Bangkok.