Pride and Peace on the Streets

The famous Khao San Rd is overrun with backpackers who look like they need a shower, a good nights sleep and a decent meal. They come here to forget about home, meet traveling buddies and most importantly, party their ass off. If you were on this street, as I was for three sleep-depriving days, you would never know that the largest political demonstration of this time is erupting just two streets away.

Hundreds of thousands of Thai’s proudly waved red white and blue flags, chanted joyful songs, smacked plastic hand toys and laughed together. On stage, guitar bands played soft melodies interrupted by Hitleresque speeches. “Taksin” was a common word amongst other indiscernible Thai, until in English, one announcer said, “we will not give up until we win the war.”

Taksin, the previous prime minister, was exiled from the country but wants to return to Thailand (who can blame him?). The problem? He’s a billionaire from a country whose people care little about wealth and lots about fairness. He wants to buy his way back, but the Thai’s wont stand for it.

The beautiful story in all of the political upheaval is the Thai’s devotion and passion for their country. Di, a volunteer that was eager to approach and fill me in, told me they’ve been sleeping in the street for a month to feed the other demonstrators.

“I have to tell them to stop working and eat,” Di said about the sixty year old women chopping bamboo in preparation for lunch. “They tell me they don’t need to eat, that the energy from what they’re contributing is enough to keep them going.”

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I had no idea what I was arriving upon since I heard some had died on this famous King Rama street days before my flight landed. Since the uproar, police have too put down their weapons and joined in the demonstrations. As i walked down the street on Monday night for what should have been the last day for the prime minister to make up her mind about Taksin’ i wondered, don’t these people have work tomorrow? Not important. Around Bangkok, daily life has slowed down so that everyone can be at the monument protesting. “Everyone’s here,” Di said. Farmers, teachers, and a lot of university students all fired up together.

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So trash is starting to accumulate. Camping tents and clothes lines are cramming sidewalks. The Thai’s don’t look close to packing up. “The government is trying to make us tired, weak, discouraged… we’re not stopping until Taksin is gone forever.”

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