Silent night in Bangkok

You would not think at first there would be a lot to say about being stuck inside during Bangkok’s first curfew in almost 2 decades, but as it turned out that was not the case. Access to the roof of the building I was in provided a panoramic experience not seen in a city very often.

At the moment of the witching hour that the curfew started I decided to get a look at what was going on outside. I noted there were a few taxis about along with a few motorbike taxis. I contributed them to be stragglers as Bangkok’s reputation of making you late floated in my mind. Across the way was a small outside shop that simply could not be abandoned. The owners stood their ground to protect their livelihood. I can remember thinking how arrogant they were as they looked back at me and laughed as I looked out the door.

From there I went back and watched TV for an hour to get a feel for what was happening. My next stop was the roof of the building and surprisingly I was not alone looking out over the city. The first thing I noted was how different the city seemed. The lights were on in what would be a normal appearance, but the silence is what captured my attention. I was greeted by the sounds of a barking dog some distance away. To hear that dog at any other time would have been impossible for the ambient sounds of Bangkok at night. The sounds of chirping insects was also a sound completely alien to inner Bangkok.

Looking off in the near distance I could see the Building that TV 3 was in. It stood out like a black monolith in a city filled with light. TV 3 was one of the arson targets of the Red Shirts and some people were evacuated by helicopter from the roof. The billowing smoke had stopped but the damage had been done. The blinking red light at the top of the broadcast tower was dark signifying the building was dead.

Looking of in the direction of Central World, what looked like clouds was actually smoke blowing to the north. It was illuminated by the city lights giving it an eerie backlit effect. It was a significant fire that will be long remembered. There were other pockets of smoke about the city and the occasional sound of gunfire coming from the Rama 4 area.

Looking down on the street there were police patrols but not of single vehicles. There were at least 6 in a mini convoy to reduce the chances of being overpowered by gangs of Red Shirts. I could not say how many police there were in that convoy, but to have less than 10 or 12 would be foolish.

Striking up a conversation with a person on the roof I discovered she was a journalist anchor that reported on business news. She was expressing her views and deep sorrow about the sad state of her country. She said she was friends with the people over at TV 3 and relayed their experiences as they had talked after the evacuation of the building. It was clear she was deeply saddened by the chain of events, but she also saw it as a bit of a right of passage. I asked her to explain that and she said ‘My country needs to mature in many ways and only a shock will make things change’.

Our chat was interrupted by the sound of an explosion not too far away followed quickly by the sounds of accelerating police vehicles heading towards the explosion. It seemed Bangkok the city of angels was dealing with the devil this night.

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