DSCN58731 300x225 - PreludeWell, I spent the better part of Saturday with the Red Shirt protesters on Padum Krung Kasem right off of Ratchadamnoen Nok Rd. which is an artery that runs into  Ratchadamnoen Blvd. where many of the historic sites in Bangkok are located like Democracy Monument, Dusit Palace, and the Phan Phiphop Lila Bridge, where the Red Shirts have one of their stages.  Later I spent time at the Dinsa-Democracy Monument intersection.  It was quite an experience.  I arrived in the afternoon to see the protesters and the army at a standoff.  The soldiers were carrying M-16’s so I naturally gave them a wide berth not wanting to experience firsthand what it feels like to get shot.  Later the “Trojan Horse,” came, a songtow with its customary loudspeakers.  Minutes later this pickup truck began to breach the line of these soldiers and canisters of tear gas were thrown out into the protesters and shots, one after another, were heard. It was scary so I hauled ass back for protection.  I soon learned that the shots were blanks.  The soldiers fell back to another line and then the protesters and soldiers repeated the same scenario thought the second line was much more difficult to break.  It was surreal how the soldiers simply walked away through the protesters, after their bluff was called, almost as if it were all routine.  I stood in disbelief as the protesters gave water and cheered the troops.  I returned home to get my camera and returned to see that a couple of platoons of soldiers were “captured” by the protesters and everyone was just standing around.  One Red Shirt explained how he and his fellow Red Shirts “loved these soldiers” and that all the Red Shirts wanted was “for the soldiers to go home and enjoy the songkran holidays with their families.”

One Red Shirt mentioned something about tanks so I went to Democracy Monument and sure enough I saw six or seven APCs on Dinsa Rd. facing towards Democracy Monument.  The protesters and the army were at a standstill with many of the Reds holding up pictures of the King and Queen to dissuade these soldiers from attacking.  A helicopter flew over head and dropped canisters of tear gas, more like nepalm this time, and I covered my nose and mouth with a small face mask given to me by a Red.  I wore swimming goggles for my eyes.  As the sun started to set I buggered off home knowing something dangerous was coming and I didn’t want to be THAT guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time as I always read about.

Turns out I made the right decision as 20 people were killed that night including a Japanese journalist.  Look at the photo gallery 2 and you can see it all.  One picture is very graphic.