While day-to-day life for us continues on rather normally, the situation peaked yesterday with the torching and looting of Central, the second largest mall in Asia.
The fire fighters were apparently prevented from entering the area and the entire huge mall burned to the ground creating a large column of black smoke from yesterday afternoon until well into this morning.
Joss has been taking timed photos from the balcony, which he made into two videos.
There’s been more than one column of smoke in the city. The leaders of the red shirt movement have either turned themselves in or fled, leaving the 5,000+ protesters without leadership or direction. There were estimated 80 factions of protesters spreading through Bangkok – businesses associated with wealthy corrupt Thais were targeted for destruction and looting.
Consequently there was a curfew established last night for 8 pm. Sue and Joss were out in the company truck around 6 pm, registering at a nearby hospital in the event we cannot reach the hospital of their choice and picking up dinner. They said the streets were already deserted and most restaurants were closed.
The curfew has been extended through Saturday night from 9 pm to 5 am. The BTS has been closed for five days now.
Today, the street vendors, the shoe repair guy, the tailor, are still out on the streets, working normally. The fancy grocery store is open – crowded with folks stockpiling supplies.
We went to Noi naa’s playgroup this morning, just a block or two away and then did some shopping. The fruit lady cautioned us not to go anywhere as it’s still dangerous. The mood was relaxed and there were people everywhere – but maybe not as many as usual.
We take this to mean that the testosterone-pumped frustrated protesters are all still about, but that it’s mostly about clean up now. Businesses are being slammed and impacted in all ways. We stopped for a coffee, but couldn’t get sandwiches as no bread had been delivered today. The maid has shown up every day, but every other storefront on the street has its shutters drawn.
The Thai conflict for dummies (explained by somebody who barely understands what’s going on – that’s me):
The red shirts are mostly poor farmers from the NE – they support Taksin, the democratically-elected president who was overthrown two years ago for being terribly corrupt. They wanted the current government to step down and to move up the democratic elections. Bottomline – they want a better life and don’t feel their needs are represented in government.
The yellow shirts are mostly wealthy, educated city-folk. They organized the coup in 2008 to get rid of Taksin. Bottomline – they feel they gave the poor a chance at a democratic election and are disgusted that somebody as corrupt as Taksin was voted into power.