It’s been just over 2 weeks since I’ve been in Bangkok, since that time the protests have come into full swing, the leader of the protests ‘Khun Suthep Thaugsaban’ instigated the ‘Bangkok Lockdown’ scheme on the 13th February with high hopes of bringing Bangkok’s transport system to a stop therefore bringing the city to its knees……this is in a city which is already ranked as of one of the top cities with the worst traffic in the world!
Getting off of the train and hailing a taxi I was prepping myself for the worst, thinking that my usual 15 minute taxi ride to the backpacker district of ‘Khaosan’ would take me at very least an hour (which can happen on a normal day).
Do you all remember 2 years ago during the London Olympics, when the media wouldn’t stop going on about how terrible the traffic was going to be, and how all the city was going to grind to a halt?
The irony of it all was that everybody was completely terrified to use their cars and ultimately the complete opposite happened: traffic ran smoothly enough (for London), there were no major mishaps, well not in the logistics of things anyway.
The point is that my taxi ride took me a total of 20 minutes instead of my usual 15, and that was only due to the fact my driver in traditional Bangkok taxi driver style “didn’t have change”, therefore of course costing me an extra 50 baht (£1/$1.60).
By the looks of it, the same thing that happened in London had happened again in Bangkok. The traffic wasn’t bad at all, and this was definitely the main thing I was worried about; furthermore, I didn’t see any pistol wielding protesters, or any sign of aggressive riot squads squashing the demonstrators.
What people fail to remember is that with any potentially violent situation around the world; the media will replay and repeat the same grizzly image or video of a small demonstration gone bad (which may I add happens daily around the world in lots of countries).
The fact of the matter is that Thailand’s economy relies heavily on tourism, high season lasts around 6 months in and this is when the Thai people make the vast majority of their money. And we’re not just talking about business men and women, we’re talking about many individuals accoss the country from the rich to the poor, so ask yourself ‘Why would even the protesters put their income in danger?’.
The Khaosan area, where most backpackers will ultimately begin their Thai adventure, is the same as ever, a hustle and bustle of backpackers and holiday makers; not wielding pistols, grenades and riot shields, but carrying heavy duty buckets of whiskey and a big f***ing smile!
The sad thing is that around 400,000 people from around the world have cancelled their holiday to Thailand this year due to the media blowing things of proportion and striking fear into the minds of people looking to have a fantastic getaway in a very special part of the world.
Don’t get me wrong the protests are happening, but only in specific parts of the city which are away from the major tourist spots. The protests themselves are non-violent, and as with the vast majority of cases like this, it’s just a few groups who come in and occassionally cause trouble. As far as we know, absolutely no tourists at all have been harmes directly or indirectly as a result of these protests.
Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the London riots a few years back. Frankly if both were happening at the same time I know I would much rather be safe in Bangkok than getting my head smashed in by a bunch of football hooligans or hoodies (or even the police…) outside a JD Sports.
Though if you have any more qualms about the current issues in Bangkok, you can follow a live feed of the happenings on great twitter accounts which are as follows; ‘Richard Barrow’ or ‘Terry Fredrickson’. Richard Barrow has even created a map of areas to avoid due to large numbers of people bringing public transport and traffic to a stand still.
Or even get live updates of protest spots in the city with the App named; Longdo traffic
For those coming to Thailand in the coming weeks, or are looking to book a trip to Thailand and are maybe a bit nervous for the first leg of their trip, check out the website www.trutravels.com you’ll be in safe hands with us!
Overall, all I have to say is ‘Don’t Worry!’, your only major worries are:
Your beer getting cold.
See you on the beach!
Luke & the TruFam