Bangkok: Back to normal


BANGKOK, Thailand (eTN) – After four days of rising violence and confrontation, tensions cooled down in Bangkok on Tuesday morning as the “red shirts” retreated following orders from their leaders to disperse. On Monday night, some 2,000 protesters were still standing in front of the Government House but started to retreat on Tuesday. The government has already organized buses to repatriate red shirt protesters to Northern and Northeastern provinces.

The confrontation between the red shirts who are supporters of ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and government forces –army and police- translated into a relatively low number of casualties. The government officially announced some 110 people injured and three killed, due to casualties between red shirts and Bangkok local residents.

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According to Lutzi Matzig from Asian Trails, casualties did not affect tourists visiting the capital. Tours continued to the Royal Palace, the Floating Market or to River Kwai. Despite the seizure of over 50 public buses by protesters, other public transport such as the Skytrain and the Underground continued to work normally over the last days. On Tuesday, rail services resumed partially their services from Bangkok Hua Lamphong station to the North and Northeastern. All shopping malls opened as usual.

If Bangkok’s life is returning rapidly to normal, the last violence will certainly affect Thailand’s tourism image again with a possible drop from Asian travelers to the Thai capital over the next few weeks. Many governments around the world, including the USA, China, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and the European Union have issued travel warning to Bangkok. They are expected to be lifted rapidly.

The best news probably for many Bangkok residents: the government asked public services to eventually extend the Songkran holiday –Thai New Year- beyond Wednesday.

The government also advised business companies to eventually do the same to help cleaning and repairing damage done to some public infrastructure in Bangkok. At least, many inhabitants might enjoy this free week of holiday offered by the government.