Archive | Bangkok

Bangkok Bombing: Police Release Sketch of Main Suspect

2015 08 20BKKbomb

Following my post yesterday: Here’s the latest from my WSJ colleagues in Bangkok:

Thailand’s prime minister urged the main suspect in the bombing that killed 20 people in Bangkok this week to turn himself in, while police released a sketch of the alleged bomber and described him for the first time as a foreigner.

Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha’s remarks on Wednesday also acknowledged that the investigators were attempting to track down a wider-ranging network that they say is responsible for Monday’s blast at a shrine in the center of the city.

Meanwhile, inserted above and on YouTube here: an embeddable version of the dash cam footage showing the blast.

And here’s footage of the explosion at the Chao Phraya river on Tuesday.

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Bangkok Bombings: Latest Updates and How to Follow the News

2015 08 19bkkbomb

A and I returned to Singapore Monday morning after a couple of weeks of traveling. Then that evening came the sad news about the bombings in Bangkok.

From our latest WSJ story:

Thai police said they were homing in on a suspect seen in security-camera footage of the bomb blast that killed at least 20 people, most of them foreign tourists, in the Thai capital.

A second explosive device on Tuesday was thrown from a bridge over Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River. The bomb narrowly missed a busy pier where commuters waited for taxi boats, falling into the river where it exploded. No one was injured.

The blast, which threw a column of water into the air, deepened the sense of unease in a city where many commuters chose to stay at home and some tourists avoided the usually bustling malls and temples of downtown Bangkok.

The Economist has more on the context:

Low-level political violence is not uncommon in Thailand—which is riven by a kind of class war in which two military coups have succeeded in less than ten years—but the attack on August 17th was unprecedented in scale. The blast, caused by a pipe stuffed with TNT, did only relatively moderate damage to the shrine itself and the buildings that surround it. But timed to explode during the evening rush hour, and positioned at an intersection often packed with shoppers and tourists, it was designed to kill and maim a maximal number of bystanders. The dead included visitors from China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. A young girl was among the injured.

Meanwhile, this dash cam footage shows the force of the Erawan Shrine bomb:

วินาทีระเบิดที่แยกราชประสงค์ วันที่ 17 สิงหาคม 2015 ภาพจากกล้องในรถผมครับ

Posted by Pimornrat Nana Puttayot on Monday, August 17, 2015

Quartz has a roundup of pics and videos.

For ongoing updates, here’s my public Twitter list of more than 100 media people in Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand.

I especially recommend longtime Thailand blogger Richard Barrow, who frequently tweets information of interest to tourists and others in the city.

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‘Bangkok Shutdown’ day 3: overnight violence, Feb. 2 elections to go ahead

Here’s the latest:

  1. Two people were hurt in a shooting early this morning. And separately, the Bangkok residence of Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva was hit with a small explosive device.
  2. The Thai stock exchange moved some staff to another location after demonstrators threatened to take control of its offices.
  3. Prime Minister Yigluck said the Feb. 2 elections will go ahead.

The AP reports:

Gunshots rang out in the heart of Thailand’s capital overnight in an apparent attack on anti-government protesters early Wednesday that wounded at least two people and ratcheted up tensions in Thailand’s deepening political crisis.

Most of Bangkok remains unaffected by the latest wave of rallies. But the shooting was the latest in a string of violent incidents that have kept the vast metropolis on edge amid fears the country’s deadlock could spiral out of control.

Bangkok’s emergency services office said one man was hit in the ankle and a woman was hit in the arm in the shooting, which occurred on a street leading to one of Bangkok’s glitziest shopping districts that has been occupied since Monday by camping demonstrators trying to bring down Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government.

Sompong Pongsattha, a 56-year-old resident who witnessed the attack in the Pathumwan district, said about 30 gunshots were fired from an unknown location toward a protest barricade over the course of about two hours.

And:

In another incident overnight, a small explosive device was hurled into a residential compound owned by former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, shattering windows and slightly damaging a roof, according to Police Col. Chumpol Phumphuang and Abhisit’s opposition Democrat Party. No injuries were reported, and Abhisit — who resigned from Parliament last month to join protesters — was not home at the time.

The WSJ says:

Thailand’s stock exchange moved some personnel Wednesday from its main building to a shopping mall following threats to seize the premises by antigovernment protesters who have tried to shut down areas of central Bangkok.

Reuters reports:

Thailand’s government stuck to a plan for a February election on Wednesday despite mounting pressure from protesters who have brought parts of Bangkok to a near-standstill, and said it believed support for the leader of the agitation was waning.

Some hardline protesters have threatened to blockade the stock exchange and an air traffic control facility if Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra does not step down by a deadline media said had been set for 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, Prachatai has a map of “anti-coup” rallies that took place around the country on Monday, the day “Bangkok Shutdown” began. A bigger version is here.

2014 01 15 anti coup protests

And finally, following my previous post, here are a few more snapshots from Asoke intersection — one of the protest sites — this afternoon. (I’ve also uploaded the pics to my “Bangkok Shutdown” Flickr set.)

Blog posts will be sporadic in the days ahead, but as always, you can find me on Twitter for more frequent updates.

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Thailand update: 1 killed in clashes with police, EC urges election delay, Nattawut speaks

The AP reports:

Thailand’s election commission on Thursday urged the government to delay upcoming polls as clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters killed a police officer and injured nearly 100 people, adding to political turmoil threatening to tear apart the country.

The hours-long unrest took place outside a Bangkok sports stadium where election candidates were gathering to draw lots for their positions on the ballot. Protesters threw rocks as they tried to break into the building to halt the process, while police fired tear gas and rubber bullets.

There’s more from the WSJ, Bloomberg, the BBC, and Reuters.

Elsewhere, the WSJ’s Southeast Asia Real Time has a Q&A with Red Shirt leader Nattawut Saikua:

WSJ: Both the Red Shirts and Mr. Suthep’s People’s Democratic Reform Committee claim to command mass support. Can the two sides avoid a conflict?

Mr. Nattawut: I will try my best to prevent a confrontation and protect a rules-based system. I think the Feb. 2 election could be the answer and help prevent conflict. But if Mr. Suthep prevents the election going ahead and succeeds in setting up a people’s assembly, it will be the last straw. It will drive our side onto the streets. We are always ready to talk with Mr. Suthep’s supporters, though. Our demands are for elections under the democratic system, but Mr. Suthep’s are not. If we can achieve that, then each person will get one vote. On the other hand, if Mr. Suthep succeeds, then nobody will have a vote because he took them all. Mr. Suthep’s victory would not be the people’s victory, but our victory is the real people’s victory because everybody will have the same rights and freedoms as everybody else.

Meanwhile, there’s this:

As ever, stay tuned.

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NY Times: ’36 Hours in Bangkok’

I often enjoy the The New York Times‘s “36 Hours in…” dispatches.

The travel pieces usually convey, in perhaps 1,500 words, both the destination’s atmosphere and practical tips for visiting.

So I was delighted to see today’s “36 Hours in Bangkok,” by veteran correspondent Thomas Fuller.

I especially like the lede, because it mirrors much of my affection for the Thai capital:

Bangkok has hit the sweet spot. It’s modern but far from antiseptic, filled with luxuries, pampering and great food — but still affordable. In the glare of the tropical sun it can be an ugly sprawl of tangled wires and broken pavement. Yet amid the chaos, visitors find charm and, above all, character. Somehow extremes coexist: skyscrapers and moldy tenements; high-end, cloth-napkin dining and tasty street food stalls; five-star hotels and fleabag guesthouses overflowing with backpackers; libidinous hedonism and Buddhist meditation. To travel across Bangkok is to see several worlds at once. Increasingly it is also convenient. The city of paralyzing traffic now has ample public transportation options ranging from boats to an expanding subway system. But if there is one reason visitors return again and again to Bangkok, it is the people. The anonymity and daily grind of urban life is slowly wearing away at the legendary Thai smile. Yet Bangkok remains one of the friendliest cities on the planet, still infused with the Thai village traditions of hospitality and graciousness.

There’s also a slideshow.

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Spotted Today in Bangkok: The Umbrella Hat in Action

2012 08 11 umbrella hat

As I Tweeted earlier, I was lucky enough to make a rare sighting today, here in the wilds of Bangkok, of the rare and elusive umbrella hat in action.

Lighting does, in fact, strike twice: I documented such a sighting back in 2008, as well.

Of this much I can be certain: I need one of these contraptions for myself.

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Bangkok Street Life Inventions: Garbage Bag Poncho and Frond-Fashioned Napping Shade

I wanted to share two photos I snapped recently. They both demonstrate interesting Bangkok street life improvisations.

First: It’s the middle of rainy season here, so what do you do when you’re caught in an evening downpour without an umbrella?

Simple — make a poncho (with a cutout for your face) out of a plastic bag:

2012 07 17 bangkok rain jacket

And second: What do you do if you’re a motorcycle taxi driver and your favorite hammock is getting too much mid-day sun?

Simple — fashion a shade out of some fronds and affix it to the over-hanging electrical wires:

2012 07 17 bangkok hammock shade

Problems solved.

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Self-Promotion: My New WSJ Scene Asia Story on Hip Bangkok Nightlife

I have a story about hip Bangkok nightlife over at The Wall Street Journal‘s Scene Asia.

The piece is called Bangkok’s Creative Watering Holes, and begins:

What looks like a saloon entrance leads to a low-lit cavern, and up the wrought-iron staircase, a sultry woman croons along with a jazz combo.

Downstairs, the well-heeled crowds sip elaborately crafted cocktails, seemingly unconcerned with the blacksmith tools scattered about.

This is a typical after-hours scene in Bangkok, or more specifically, Thong Lor, one of the City of Angels’ most cosmopolitan neighborhoods. A world away from the backpacker dives of Khao San Road and the city’s less salubrious red-light districts, the area—based around Sukhumvit Road’s Soi 55—offers edgy watering holes, craft brews on tap and pop-up music nights that cater to locals and expats alike, proving that it’s possible to have a night out in Bangkok without recreating “The Hangover Part II.”

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Lady Gaga Arrives in Bangkok

2012 05 24 lady gaga bkk

Take note: One of the world’s biggest pop stars has arrived in the Thai capital.

Above is a snapshot of today’s Bangkok Post front page.

The Post reports:

Lady Gaga arrived at Don Mueang airport in her private jet late Wednesday, and was greeted by a large crowd of fans before her Friday evening concert in Bangkok.

She immediately tweeted:

“I just landed in Bangkok, baby! Ready for 50,000 screaming Thai monsters. I wanna get lost in a lady market and buy fake Rolex.”

There’s also a video clip of her arrival, embedded above and on YouTube here.

Regarding the singer’s choice of attire, @Binderdonedat riffed thusly:

(Style mavens and hard core Gaga fans can see more photos of her outfit here.)

(All emphasis mine.)

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