Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Central World disaster site

Chai Ling and I were hanging out in Siam Paragon when we decided on a whim to go on an impromptu Ratchaprasong disaster tour. Central World/Zen is in bad shape. I had hoped media pictures were exaggerating the damage. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, looking at the gutted remains for real was a lot worse :(

This first picture was actually taken a few days later from Siam Paragon's Kinokuniya bookstore but from here you can see Central World's Zen section on the right. The exhibition and hotel areas are safely intact. The protesters were camping on Ratchaprasong which runs along the right side of this picture, where the BTS line runs.

At the front, you see the Pathum Wanaram Temple where women and children from the red shirt camp were to be harboured safely. But this was also where six bodies were found, dead from gunshot wounds.

We walked from Siam Paragon along Ratchaprasong Road, and peeked into the temple.

The clean-up of Bangkok has been amazing. No bamboo sticks nor tyres in sight. Here you see newly-cemented pavements.

Central World's Zen.

Turn the corner into Ratchadamri Road, and you see this. The extent of damage is just unbelievable. Sorry, but whatever sympathies I might have for the red shirts' cause just fizzled out with this cruel and senseless burning of Central World.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dark Clouds over Bangkok

These are photos I took as we drove home from the airport to our apartment in Bangkok city. The dark clouds seem so ominous they sent chills down my spine.

I'm praying the clouds are just crying for Bangkok, and aren't an indication of bad tidings ahead for this country.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Relaxing by Esplanade

A photo I took from Esplanade. Singapore's skyline looks gorgeous but there seems to be new buildings and roads sprouting up every half year or so that I feel so much like a foreigner whenever I visit.

I've been catching up on sleep, didn't realise how exhausted I was from late nights checking on all the latest developments in Thailand. Mum came down from Malacca to see her grandkids. Today, we had dinner in MakanSutra and then just enjoyed the breeze by the Esplanade. Food was really good mostly, but quite expensive for hawker fare.

I didn't manage to meet up with anyone except Hsien who came by to hang out near where we were staying. We arrived on Thursday and are leaving for Bangkok tomorrow. Very happy to hear that some kind of calm has been restored in Bangkok. Too bad I won't be back in time for the I love Thailand cleanup. Would have loved to be part of that.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Flight to Safety

Sean's toys n blanket on our plane back to Singapore for the weekend. Yes, we are headed back. It was not my choice. Agreed reluctantly to leave Bangkok so that Eddie can work in peace without worrying about us.

I'm not jumping with joy about this. Neither is Brian, who has a French presentation and a class party tomorrow. So this is definitely not a fun time. Have to convince him cabuting for a few days was the right thing to do, when I'm not that convinced myself...sigh...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bangkok Burning

It's been a crazy few days. Watching the news and checking twitter, everything seems so surreal. The only indication where we are of anything being amiss was the large crowds at Villa Market stocking up on water and food in preparation for the curfew. We've been having curfew for a few days, not all day curfew thankfully, just from evening till dawn.

Then the government finally cracked down on the reds. No more shuffling about. Everybody's patience was running thin.

But I never expected how it all went so bad. How could they burn Central World down? And many other places in Bangkok too. I didn't get it. I used to think this would never happen in Thailand...guess I was wrong.

It hurt to see Thais go at one another like this. I cried today.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Escape to Safety

Yesterday, we moved out to a safer part of Bangkok. Chai Ling and Christine, two of my Singapore friends who have had it worst than me (having moved 3 times since the protests started cos they live right in the heart of the protest site), also moved here.

Where we are now seems like a world away from the urban war zone in the heart of the city. Everyone going about their business in this hip suburb. Feel so much less tense here. It's nice here in Thonglor, it is about as far as we can get from where the bad action is but still have nice stuff around us.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Getting out of Sathorn

The above is a photo I took from the swimming pool level of our apartment. It shows a group of reds gathered at Sathorn Road. At first, they were jeering the army personnel stationed about 200m away towards the protest site.

More army soldiers came. They fired rubber bullets towards the reds each time the reds tried to advance towards them. When it was dark, the reds started burning tyres in the middle of the road, creating bonfires. They also threw rocks at the street lamps along Sathorn, creating pitch black darkness save for the bonfires. This was all to distract the army. It was mainly mischief-making, not highly dangerous, but still menacing.

All night, we could hear gunshots and explosions from the nearby Rama 4 and Bon Kai battleground, it was pretty scary.

Didn't want to wait till things got out of hand. We've decided to move to Thonglor for the weekend, a peaceful suburb away from this madness and monitor the situation from there.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Red Shirts next to our apartment

This was the scene on Sathorn Road today, normally chock-a-block with cars, now practically a ghost town. The army has encircled the protest site, and where we live is about 1km from the edge of the protest site. It's eerie seeing the roads so quiet, this is not Bangkok!

All day, I've been hearing intermittent gunshots and explosions from the protest site. Towards evening, some motorcyclists came in from a side street and gathered nearby, taunting some army personnel guarding the main road (who were preventing more red shirts from joining the protesters who have been surrounded).

The action is definitely happening too near for comfort.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Ekamai's Gai Yang (Grilled Chicken)

When I first came to Bangkok (hmm, sounds like so long ago :)), Eunice asked me to join her and her friends for grilled chicken in Ekamai. I can't remember why I didn't manage to join her that night. Anyway, today, another mummy, Connie, suggested that we have lunch there (not sure if it's the same joint).

I ate sooooo much, it was just two of us and this is what we gobbled up with our rice.

Some raw vegetables to go with the grilled chicken.

The famous grilled chicken. It was tasty, but as my Thai friend May predicted, I wouldn't be a big fan cos the chicken here isn't juicy the way I like it. I did enjoy the drumstick :)

Tomyum Goong, with two big prawns. It was pretty good, but not as sourish the way tomyums typically are.

Morning glory. It's kangkung right? Very good.

The highlight was steamed fish, very sourish, and delicious. So fresh too.

Guess how much everything came to? Including drinks, the meal cost us less than 600 baht! Or less than S$25. Am definitely coming here again.

Lovin' the library

There are many things I love about the boys' school here in Bangkok. One of these is the Elementary School (ES) library. It's spacious, colourful and it has really cool pod-like bubble chairs. I could hang out here all day. Trouble with this is, Sean often comes to the library during recess when I'd prefer him to be playing with other kids at the playground (he's allowed to go to the library for half the recess if he chooses to, and he does).

I met the ES librarian Tara on the boys' first day of school and she was really welcoming. I found her blog TLC (Tech+Library+Classroom) as well as her book recommendation blog, Great Reads.

So for those looking for elementary book recs, hope this helps you guys.

Driving it like they stole it

I love the abundance of taxis in Bangkok. They are all metered and start at about 37 baht (S$1.60). It's super easy to find cabs, they're just everywhere. Everywhere I need to go is within 100 baht (S$4.30), typically 60 baht.

But what I really dislike though about taxis in Bangkok, is that once they hit the highways, they drive like daredevils! They are fine in the city area, but the two times I took a cab that needed to go on the highway, I was left frazzled. Just check out the steering wheel of the taxi above which we took to Chatuchak market one weekend. I think he imagines he's a racecar driver or something.

It's fine to pretend-play and be Shcumacher on your own time, but not when my kids are in your taxilah. It really is quite a hair-raising experience, and I'm no ninny.

Well, Eddie finally bought a GPS so any highway driving will be done ourselves, as far as we can help it, thank you very much.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Temporary truce

A kind of truce between the government and protesters is going on now and when I heard Central Chidlom was open, I immediately headed there, thinking the worst was over (little did I know things were coming to a head in days).

These are photos taken at the start of the main artery of the protest site. The barricades are really imposing, and very high, reaching over the BTS track line. Why in the world were they allowed to build up this much reinforcement, I have no idea. Simply flabbergasting.