Categories
Misc.

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:

CNN:

• 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

Reuters:

Thai army bans “political activities”

AP:

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

Elsewhere:

Bangkok Pundit is staying on top of things, as is 2Bangkok.com.

Categories
Misc.

“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.

(Via.)

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.