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Author: Bernd Mechsner

Update 2: Expat’s Eye-witness Report: Ratchaprasong

Expat Eye-witness Report Ratchaprasong

A bit more worried than before…

We are still ok! However now we are a bit more worried than before.

The 19th was hell on earth. Once the leaders gave up all hell broke loose and there were heavy explosions, gunfire, fireworks and smoke everywhere around us. Our windows were shaking vigorously with many explosions. This kept going until dark.

Ratchaprasong burning

From our bedroom window we saw with horror and disbelief Centralworld first going up in heavy black smoke, then fire, and then we heard the terrible noise of part of the building collapsing. That was a shocking moment because it sent burning debris and sparks flying high up and towards our building. At times we were completely engulfed in the smoke from Centralworld – the stench from that fire is still hanging in our apartment.

Ratchaprasong burning

Ratchaprasong burning

This morning after the curfew we went out onto the street to see what’s left. What a mess! What a tragedy! Opposite what’s left from Centralworld BigC was engulfed in flames. Later firefighters told us that it’s completely burnt out in the inside.

Ratchaprasong burning

There was so much destruction everywhere; so many shops and restaurants looted and burnt.

Ratchaprasong burning

We met poor street vendors that sold us much of the food we had in the last weeks – many of them in tears trying to rescue at least something. Some reds were searching in what was left from their tents to see whether anything of their possessions might still be left.

Ratchaprasong burning

Ratchaprasong burning

Ratchaprasong burning

Just when we went back home the street we were on came under fire from very close. We were running for our lives. Later troops were screening every corner, house, hotel and all roofs in the area from pockets of “terrorists”. We have not been allowed to leave our house for the rest of the days.

Ratchaprasong burning

All people we met are absolutely convinced that this is now only a beginning and we will witness a bloody guerilla war starting soon. Doesn’t sound good.

Ratchaprasong burning

We still heard gunfire and few explosions in our neighborhood during the day yesterday.

Ratchaprasong burning

At least it’s quiet now. Let’s hope it remains that way.

Best regards,
Bernd Mechsner
flickr: Ratchaprasong
ThaiVisa: My Neighborhood Under Siege: Ratchaprason

For the rest of Bernd’s eye-witness reports from Ratchaprasong, please read:

NOTE: At Bernd’s request, comments are closed.

RIP Bernd Mechsner. After being forced to delete an eyewitness testimony from this post, I wonder what Bernd would have said to: “the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court has now ruled that the six people who died inside Wat Pathum Wanaram grounds on May 19, 2010 were killed by shots fired by the military“.

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Update 1: Expat’s Eye-witness Report: Ratchaprasong Resort

Please do not kill us

Here is a short update…

At the moment we have power most of the time. There have been only a few blackouts so far. Mobile phone signal is off mostly and the internet signal is very unstable. Lots of interruptions – sometimes for hours. Water is still running with few interruptions.

Our neighborhood is completely sealed off with the army’s “Live Fire Zones”. The government reported that 32’000 troops are controlling the area and they have got the order “shoot to kill”. The government has confirmed today that the troops are authorized use live ammunition and to shoot anyone approaching them closer than 30m.

Ratchaprasong Resort

We have absolutely no way of getting out without risking our lives.

Going near those army checkpoints is a Russian Roulette. There have been 24 deaths and about 180 injured so far in the last two days. I’m afraid that the real number might be much higher.

There have been 24 deaths and about 180 injured so far in the last two days. According to various international media reports all deaths were unarmed civilians.

No supplies of food or anything else is coming into our neighborhood; we are now living of our reserves.

Yesterday and until the early morning hours we could hear nearly constant gunfire and some louder explosions from different directions. We haven’t slept properly for many days now.

Right now it’s quiet – what an incredible relief!! Let’s hope it’s not the calm before the big storm! The only threatening thing that can be seen right now is black smoke coming from around Lumpini Park.

We keep praying for the best.

Best regards,
Bernd Mechsner
flickr: Ratchaprasong
ThaiVisa: My Neighborhood Under Siege: Ratchaprason

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An Expat’s Eye-witness Report: Ratchaprasong Resort

Ratchaprasong Resort

What I see in my neighborhood…

I live in an apartment right in the middle of the Ratchaprasong area, so I am able to give a firsthand report about what I see. Several times a day, my wife and I go on the streets around the Ratchaprasong intersection, out among the reds.

From our windows we can see and hear the action 24/7 – we can also feel the windows vibrating from the hundreds of banks of loudspeakers and the noise of the crowd. In order to get on with our lives as normally as possible, we have no other choice than to dive into the red masses from time to time.

Ratchaprasong Resort

No matter which side it comes from, we keep a neutral attitude, ignoring the political lies and propaganda. To be honest, I see far too many deviations from the truth, and too much propaganda from all sides involved in the conflict.

Ratchaprasong Resort

When we are approached by friendly people, we don’t care what color they wear. With this attitude and putting the propaganda aside, it is actually a pleasant experience to dive into the red crowd to taste the hundreds of varieties of food they offer from all parts of the country, listen to some music sometimes, and watch the many people dancing and cheering with so many just being happy. We do all of this while ignoring the political propaganda around.

Now they are celebrating Songkran, and it’s like a mega-party in front of our house.

Ratchaprasong Resort

People are warm and friendly and many approach me to apologize for the inconveniences they are causing. They also offer specialties from Issan, drinks, ice coffee, etc. Even after the terrible events that happened at Phan Fah on Black Saturday, the people around my neighborhood are still friendly, happy, and mostly smiling.

Ratchaprasong Resort

Should we sit like sad victims in our apartment, complaining about the noise and the mob? Or should we stay out of our neighborhood and hope that the government sends troops to “enforce the law” and spill blood in front of our doorstep? We have chosen not to do that. Without politically joining any particular group, we are making the best out of the situation.

Ratchaprasong Resort

Ratchaprasong Resort

In one sense we have no other choice than to connect with the rally and the people when going out for food and entertainment. But we are certainly not joining the political propaganda rally – we are not wearing red.

Welcome to Ratchaprasong Resort!…

In the beginning it was more of an open street party. Now it is developing into something like an independent village in the heart of the city. People are installing themselves more comfortably, and the infrastructure is developing. The markets are getting diverse; the selection of street food is getting better by the day; the number of tents, shelters, street pharmacies, open air massage parlors and so on are increasing constantly. I even heard the red leaders calling the area “Ratchaprasong Resort”.

Ratchaprasong Resort

Ratchaprasong Resort

Ratchaprasong Resort

Ratchaprasong Resort

Sometimes I feel like I am close to crying. I like Thai people – no matter what color. When I retreat into my apartment, the positive experience of the human warmth and friendliness fills my heart and mind. If during such a moment I start thinking about the terrible but real threat of an army marching in violently, I fight hard to hold back tears. It’s an awful emotional roller-coaster.

Ratchaprasong Resort

As a foreigner I have no rights to be involved in politics in Thailand, but I still feel that I would like to help somehow. That’s why my wife and I gave pillows to needy toddlers and old people sleeping on the pavement. It’s not because we want to support the Red Shirts, it’s because we are human beings with hearts.

Ratchaprasong Resort

Ratchaprasong Resort

I regularly capture what is going on around my neighborhood, so I started a flickr account to share my photos. Please stop by.

Bernd Mechsner
flickr: Ratchaprasong
ThaiVisa: My Neighborhood Under Siege: Ratchaprason

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