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Saturday, October 11, 2008

October 9, 2008-Bangkok not Dangerous

Bangkok Street Scene

Bangkok not Dangerous?

Been a lot in the news about the protests in Bangkok and there’s been some violence. People have been hurt; and even some deaths have occurred. The news coverage has been graphic and in fact it has touched me in a way that few other news stories have. I’m watching the TV:

There is a protestor on her knees praying in the street. Then I see she is not praying. The protestor is kneeling motionless on the pavement and bent over with her forehead on her knees but she is not praying; there is blood. For all I can see she might be dying in this strange position of prayer or already dead. I think she is alive, but she is not moving or screaming or crying out or even turning her head to look for help and I sense she is facing her pain and shock completely alone and dealing with it inwardly, fighting by herself to reconcile this disaster which has occurred to her body as in the end we all must. At this moment the world outside of her pain does not exist.

The jumpy video is shot as a camera man runs up to her with the aid workers and the camera closes in to show her as it comes up from behind and it catches a bit of her bare back and white panties above the waistline of her jeans and this is disturbingly intimate.

The aid workers reach her and roll her onto a stretcher and you see some more blood and she still isn’t moving and she is rolled away, long black wavy hair and one arm draped over the side of the gurney.

The whole thing takes less than 10 seconds but the image stays with me.

But most of Bangkok goes on without the least acknowledgement that people are dying nearby. The Parliament Building where this has happened is not far from our apartment. I can see the area from my office building but I can’t see anything happening. Traffic is normal on the streets, trains are on time, stores are open, people go about their business. We get notices at work to stay away from that area of town but there is not even much discussion in the office. Strange.

And during the last two weeks there has also been a big festival going on in Thailand. The Buddhist Vegetarian Festival is famous for vegetarian diets and bizarre body piercing rituals. Some cruisers ventured out into Phuket Town to see young Thai men poke sticks through their cheeks. Judy and I stayed away.

But we did encounter the festival on the last night quite by accident: coming home from Thai lesson we find Sathorn Road blocked by pedestrians, food stalls, Buddhists alters, and people are every where, sitting on the street. There is incense burning and bright lights and smoke drifts upward. Strange music comes from somewhere and our cab is blocked. We exit the taxi and walk through the crowd. It is 11:00PM but people are arriving by foot from every direction and there is a buzz. I shoot some shots with my phone and we make our way home and from our apartment we can hear the music and crowd far into the night. By morning however it is all dispersed and the streets are completely clean.

I wonder how many of the festival goers are thinking about the protestors over by parliament house.

Fred & Judy, Bangkok

I don't have the video of the injured girl from the protest but click here to see the video of the Festival

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