Bangkok – Trouble at the gates

Bangkok - Hiding for a possible shooter in the buildingIt starts with a tip about a bombing and shootings at the MBK shopping mall, in the National Stadium area of Bangkok. Where the rational mind is saying stay away, the inside reporter in us is temped to get as close as possible. Excitement and curiousness win from reason, and so we rush to the scene. On our way to the MBK mall we pass the police and military control points, and eventually a man who gives us the advice to stay away. When we don’t make any attempts to listen to him he tells us its or own choice.

Arriving at the MBK shopping mall I am amazed to see how much this place has changed. A busy intersection looks totally different when it turns into a camping ground. Although having been here a lot in better days, I now feel disorientated. There are people everywhere. It is already late at night, and there are many people sleeping on improvised camping spots. At the stage, a little bit further down the road, someone is still shouting words into a microphone, taking turns with a band playing songs. There is certainly something going on here. However it seems not to involve a situation with bombs and shootings. Otherwise would people still be sleeping? would the band still be playing songs? Was the tip about the bomb a wrong one?

We walk around the big shopping mall, a little bit further away from the main stage. There it suddenly becomes noticeable that, at the outer rings from the locked down area, there is a whole different situation going on. There is a nervous tension hanging in the air. Something is happening. Then suddenly everyone in the street gets to the ground, and hides behind the parked cars on the side of the road. People start pointing at a building, a little bit further down the street. They use laser pens and flashlights to point at a window in the building. That puts the light on a very troubled situation. This is a fight where snipers often use bullets, when words do not seem to work for them. You don’t know where the bullets are coming from, and you don’t know now when a shooting is going to happen. This makes the people, in charge of securing the protest area, extremely nervous.

The people guarding the protest area gates are different from the normal protesters, who mainly seem to be at the protest area to have a peaceful experience by singing, dancing and making as much sounds as possible, in their colorful outfits. These guards have different tasks. There outfits show no signs of celebration. They are wearing black outfits, often combined with army clothes and body armors. There faces are tense, hard and nervous. They look tough, ready for a fight. This is where protest organisation is shown. With their transmitters, sticks, guns and willingness to guard or fight, these are the people that mean serious business. They don’t tolerate loud sounds, photographs and people that nose around. Without them guarding this area, the place would probably turn out in a bloody war zone.

It is a very strange situation. Even when there is the tension of deadly violence, there are still children walking around, food is being sold, and just 50 meters further down the road, thousands of people are sleeping, or listening to the band on stage. Who keeps playing songs as if there is nothing going on. Its a small and weird little world. The protesters seem to have locked them self in, when attempting to lock down Bangkok. Each protest area being its own island. In between those islands, the sharks are swimming around, with bombs and guns, instead of sharp teeth. They come out at night to hunt. Occasionally showing there aggressive nature, before diving away again in the deep urban ocean. It is a nervous cat and mouse game.

When reporting about all of this, I feel like I am walking behind the facts all the time. All night reports keep coming in from bombings, fires, shootings. You run to one place to find out that everything is already happened, and that they are now shooting from a place in the other direction. Being in this mess, I get the feeling that it could take a long time before everything turns out normal again in Bangkok and Thailand.

Your experience

Did you ever ended up in a place where there was a lot of tension? How did you feel while being in such a place?  Leave your interesting responses in the comments section below

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