Bangkok being known for it’s nightlife and never ending party, logic dictates that NYE is a big celebration in the BKK. A party just for party’s sake, no religious significance, ideal for Bangkok.
But, things were very different. December 31 is a holiday in Thailand, Bangkok was dead quite all day. The news was filled with traffic jams of Thais heading home- to the North- for the long holiday weekend. Building construction stopped, there was no traffic, I had never been in Bangkok when it was this still.
Yes, it was a big party, but more of a celebration than aimless party. Most evenings the bars are filled with westerners (farangs), NYE was a mix of Thai people and westerns. Many Thais were having impromptu parties on the street, drinking Leo beer and Thai whiskey among the street vendors selling food. All day and night you could hear the english word “countdown” mixed into Thai conversations.
Generally bars close at 2am, NYE bars stayed open all night. The major countdown to midnight was in the middle of the largest shopping district in Bangkok, a stage was setup for bands, the streets were closed and all television channels followed the official countdown.
The PM did not attend the countdown celebration, a smart move based on the number of protests and political friction over the past year.
Just like other major cities in the world, everyone counted down the final seconds and there was a major fireworks display. There were differences in the celebration: no formal attire, no champagne and not much midnight kissing.
Even though surrounded by friends here, I missed my friends back home. I didn’t have the feeling of missing anything at Christmas, so these feelings caught me a bit off guard. NYE is a time to be with your friends, drink your drinks and have that comfortable fuzzy feeling you get when things are as they should be.
It was a fun, and late, night.
Bangkok did it’s job on NYE, it actually was more bland than the Bangkok of other nights. Living in SF for 15 years and hearing tourists talk how strange the locals are always surprised me- then I worked from home and saw SF during the week, without the hordes of suburbanites shopping and dining I realized how odd many of the residents are. That was how I felt last night in Bangkok, with so many people out and about Bangkok become softer rather than wilder, the mass numbers allowed everyone to blend in.