I arrived in Bangkok almost a week ago to the news that a few hand grenades had been tossed into the Sky Train here killing one person and injuring over seventy. Other acts of random violence between the Red Shirts and the authorities crawl across the TV news every day but being here it all feels a bit surreal really. A fifteen minute walk away from my apartment that overlooks the city from the 30th floor, the Red Shirts have set up camp amidst the luxury malls and the five star hotels, but here in Farangland life goes on as always; bars full of jovial drinkers, restaurants offering spicy curries, bar girls offering something quite different and stalls selling cheap trinkets to red faced tourists from all over the world. Yesterday, after finally getting over jet lag and my back from hell, I wandered down to Siam Square where I had heard the Red Shirts were dug in behind barracades of tires, barbed wire and sharpened bamboo sticks. I found that but overall it was very anti-climatic. I was anticipating masses of raised fists facing a wall of implacable soliders with guns in hand - but it felt more like a lazy Sunday afternoon picnic. People snoozing under the shade of cover from the sweltering heat and food vendors everywhere trying to make a baht. I think these food vendors have made out best in all of this. No cops, no soldiers and not really a lot of Red Shirts. Whether this whole thing will blow away or turn into The Year of Living Dangerously will be interesting to witness. I was here for the last coup when I chased after tanks going down the street, the airport shutdown and so why not now.
In celebration of being back, here are four songs from a Thai group called Carabao, who for decades have sung about the dispossessed and disenfranchised here.