Calm and quiet. The curfew was necessary, the total silence and darkness was shocking. There is a two year jail sentence for breaking the curfew- I didn’t see anyone risking it. No cars, no pedestrians, very few lights and silence.
I went for a run this morning. The Thai government might not consider this an essential reason to be out of your home, but I did. I wanted to get back to my routine, show Thai people I am crazy as well. I did. Soldiers are everywhere, streets are deserted. Soldiers laughed, clapped, yelled “go man” and mostly just smiled. I smiled back, thanked them. We both knew we shouldn’t be in the streets. I ran much faster than I should have, body was flooded with adrenaline running on empty streets with soldiers sitting on sidewalks.
Once past the military checkpoints, much of Bangkok was largely unchanged. People are shocked by the events, but moving on with their lives. Thai people want to know what I think, they apologize, thank me for staying.
Please do not believe the reports on CNN about “marauding bands of red shirts” and “continued gunfire” in Bangkok today. It is not true. Please also understand the use of the term terrorist by the government when referring to red shirts; this is meant as engaging in acts of terrorism during the protest, it is not meant to imply that there are terrorists wandering the streets of Bangkok threatening the current and future safety of people.
The military is doing an outstanding job, working in vectors to secure neighborhoods and maintaining a presence in each neighborhood. They are very friendly, people are giving them food, water and just talking with them. The police are leading a great deal of the security as well.
The cleanup effort is massive- thousands of people and machines working to return Bangkok to normal operations. The damage from the fires is significant, it appears a hard core group of red shirts had been planning many of the fires. The primary group of red shirts were boarding government provided buses today and heading home.
The curfew has been extended for 3 more days, a good thing.
The divides remain, there is loads of work to be done in Bangkok, to relations between Thai people and to the image of Thailand. Today appears to be a good first step, the people in the street certainly want a return to normalcy.