Thailand’s Bloodless Coup: Nearing 48 Hours In

Thailand Coup: Soldiers Stand Guard

I spent four hours this afternoon walking around Bangkok and taking photos and talking to people. The image above very clearly illustrates the situation on the ground: Soldiers stand guard, while behind them civilians go about their daily lives. To the right, the two symbols of the nation — the country’s tri-colored flag and a yellow emblem of King Bhumibol Adulyadej — are united.

The city is calm. Traffic was light yesterday but appeared, in central Bangkok, to have nearly returned to its normal volume today.

Thailand Coup: Major Intersection

Thailand Coup: Major Intersection

Traffic has picked up a bit from yesterday, but it appeared to move more fluidly than usual. (Yes, this really is “more fluidly.”)

Thailand Coup: Motorcycle Taxi Drivers Relaxing

And, as ever, motorcycle taxi drivers lounged about and waited for fares.

To the news reports:


• Deposed PM Thaksin says coup was totally unexpected
• Sonthi says “all sectors” cooperating with new ruling council
• Rebel Muslim leader says coup may resolve dispute in south
• King endorses military’s takeover, orders people to follow general


Thai army bans “political activities”


Billionaire PM had no shortage of enemies

The lede of the day goes to DPA‘s Peter Janssen:

Bangkok (dpa) – Thailand has arguably taken coup-making to new heights of non-violence, judging by the peaceful response to Tuesday’s bloodless blitzkrieg that toppled prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra from power and put a junta in command of the kingdom.

Thai Army Commander-in-Chief Sonthi Boonyaratklin brought troops and tanks into Bangkok Tuesday night and took over the country without firing a shot, putting a junta in power that has promised to hand over the reins of government to a cabinet of appointed civilians within two weeks and hold a general election within a year.

“I have seen 15 coups myself in the past 30 years and this was the easiest one yet,” said Luzi Matzig, a long time resident in Thailand who runs Asia Travels, a tour agency. “A smooth-as-silk kind of coup,” quipped Matzig, playing on Thailand’s national airline’s advertising slogan “THAI – Smooth as Silk.”

The Nation:

Figures Behind the Coup (graphic)

Bangkok Post:

Police, bomb plot file vanish


Bangkok Pundit is staying on top of things, as is


“From Ruins to Ruined”

The LAT’s Richard Paddock has published a revealing story about the Myanmar government’s efforts to “rebuild” the country’s ancient temples.


Bikes of Burden

Bikes of Burden is a coffee table book featuring images of Vietnamese motorbike drivers hauling around enormous amounts of various and sundry items. I saw a copy in a bookstore here in Bangkok recently; it’s fantastic. The author is Hans Kemp, a Dutch photographer. Here’s a gallery of some pics from from the book. This one might be my favorite. Bikes of Burden is available from Amazon here.

Bangkok Street Traffic as Seen from My Balcony

I often enjoy sitting on my second-story balcony and watching the ebb and flow of Bangkok street traffic. I don’t live on a major boulevard — my neighborhood is almost entirely residential, and what I typically see is motorcycle taxi drivers ferrying passengers to their houses, people walking out to the main road nearby, folks meandering up to a noodle stand close to my front door, or my neighbors doing nothing more than hanging out and talking. I captured this 45-second video using my digital camera; the quality isn’t great, but it should give you a sense of what I see outside every day.

Some things to note:

— All the people are wearing yellow shirts in honor of the King’s 60th year on the throne.

— You’ll notice a scooter go by carrying three people. This is quite common — you’ll often more than three folks, in fact, on motorbikes here. Motorbikes and scooters are considered family vehicles in Thailand.

— The banging you hear in the background is from construction nearby.

The Coolest T-Shirts in Bangkok

Bangkoker -- the coolest tees in BKK

The coolest T-shirts in Bangkok — if not all of Southeast Asia. That’s the subject of my latest Gridskipper post. Check it out.