Visit any attraction in Thailand and as a Farang, you’ll be charged an entry price while access for Thai’s will be free. Passing through the checkpoint into the encampment was refreshingly different. I simply walked through unmolested while every Thai was stopped and searched for weapons.
Through the barricade, the road has been turned into a market on one side and an open-air hotel on the other. Everything that you could possibly need for six weeks of street-camping is available. They’ve created a micro-city with it’s own micro-economy and the place is positively buzzing with life and energy.
Providing that they have business in the area, goods vehicles and taxi-bikes are allowed through the barricades. It must seem like a pain in the arse having to stop and search all of these vehicles, but the people organising this camp are no fools. If they want the protestors to stick with the programme, then they have to make life as comfortable as possible for them. Every ATM is topped up with money, every open store is full of produce and every day, the shit is taken away. Hell, they’ve even built their own recycling centre for plastics, paper and glass. In six short weeks, they’ve built a City within a City. Screw giving major reconstruction contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan to Western firms, just send in the Thai’s. It’ll cost next to nothing, everything will get built on time and more importantly, it’ll probably all work just fine …. mai pen rai
On the open area between the Zen and Siam Paragon shopping complexes, the main rally is in full swing. The people sit on mats cleverly constructed from discarded water bottles and they cheer in unison. Everybody except for me has a red and white stick with two hands or two feet on the end of it. As they cheer at the speaker, they shake their sticks and it sounds like a thousand sets of comedy false-teeth simultaneously chattering. It really is a weird and haunting sound. Speaker follows enthusiastic speaker and for all of the day and most of the night, they whip the crowd into a frenzy. I haven’t got a clue what the speakers are saying so I just smile and nod … smile and nod .... mai pen rai