I know this post is coming too late, things in Bangkok have settled down for the time being and for that I am thankful. Hopefully calm will prevail, though I have my doubts.
Like many, the city of Bangkok has been on my mind for the past while. I know that I am by no means alone in my feelings, but like many expats living in Asia, Thailand has a special significance for me. Like millions of others, Bangkok was my first ever stop in Asia and other than countries in which I have held residence, I have spent more time in the Kingdom than any other. There is no doubt at all that without first visiting Thailand in 2000, my life would be very different than it is today. Most obviously, I doubt very highly that I would be living in Taiwan had it not been for my first Asian adventure. I felt at home there; more so now that I have been through a dozen or so times.
My feelings are different now; and I am not doing well at sorting them out. It would be easier to sort things out if I better understood the politics and sociology in Thailand; but the fact that I don’t doesn’t lessen my feelings. Violence always saddens me, but this case has been even worse. Usually when there are clashes, I feel pretty comfortable in at least siding with one side who I view to be in the “right”. Two years ago, when people took to the streets of Yangon, I had no problems at all siding with the monks and against the government. During the protests in Iran, I was clearly on the Green side. In the past month or so in Bangkok, I am really ambivalent. I don’t like the Red Shirts methods; they seemed to step past civil disobedience towards purposefully violent chaos. I don’t like that they seemed to be manipulated by Thaksin, whom I have very mixed feelings about. On the other side of the coin though, I can’t help but feel the government and army didn’t diffuse things as well as they might have and I realize that the government is backed by the wealthy vs. the rural poor of the Red Shirts. Finally, I feel very saddened that the King, whom I once quite respected as far as monarchs go, was ineffectual at best. All of these things just leave me cold and sad. I know this has been some time in coming and I realize that I had been looking at things through rose colored glasses, but somehow I feel that my innocence has somehow been lost. That makes me feel sad and not very hopeful.
Most importantly, I hope for better times in Thailand ahead. Not important to anyone but myself, I hope that I can soon have the same warm feelings for Thailand that I had not so very long ago. I hate to feel so cynical about a city I once considered my favourite spot to spend time in.
Here’s to better times in the Kingdom.