From 10.50 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. I took
photographs of the large crowd of red shirted demonstrators in Bangkok. I walked
from the Asoke and Sukhumvit Road intersection toward Soi 31. The police had
closed off traffic to Sukhumvit Road. They had no choice it was jammed with
demonstrators in pickups, large trucks, motorcycles and tuk tuks with thousands
on foot. It was an orderly march. But the sheer number of people restricted
movement. People exercised a great deal of patience. They had no choice. The
cloudy skies meant the crowd was spared the usual searing temperatures at noon.
It was a mixed blessing. Instead of a blistering sun, they were rained
I talked with a number of the
demonstrators along the way to Soi 31. They were eager to tell their story and
have their photographs taken. Modern demonstrations seem to have become
storytelling events played out for the media. Though I saw very few signs in
English. There were lots of banner written in Thai in the sea of red and Thai
flags. I saw very few photos of Thaksin.
It was impossible to move on
Sukhumvit Road after 11.10 a.m. Sukhumvit Road was as the eye could see was a
moving sea of red.
Around 11. 08 a.m. it started to
rain. Few of the demonstrators had umbrellas. About 11.11 a.m. two large trucks
full of red shirted demonstrators led the way down Soi 31 toward the prime
ministerís family compound. By now the rain was quite heavy.
I know this soi well as it was the
short cut I used to drive to my house on Soi 27. For twenty years I had traveled
up and down this section of Soi 31 and had never seen such a mass of people
before. Soi 31 is mostly lined with luxury condos, restaurants, a well known
book publisher and small businesses and a few remaining houses.
The police werenít all that visible
on soi 31. Understandably they wanted to avoid confrontation. I did find a
couple of police standing near a gate. One of the police officers wearing
sunglasses and holding a shield smiled, holding a red rose.
People in the surrounding buildings
were out on their terraces or the street snapping photographs of the crowds.
Those who stood on the street waved encouraged. And a number of the locals
displayed makeshift red stripes of cloth which they waved at the
Several men emerged from the
Sukhumvit Road end of Soi 31 carrying large plastic jugs of blood. The crowd
cheered as the men displayed the blood for the many photojournalists who were
photographing the demonstration. They blood was then carried out of sight toward
the prime ministerís residence. By now the rain was coming down quite hard. Most
of the demonstrators were soaked, the rain running down their faces.
Music blared from loudspeakers on
the trucks. When the music stopped one of the leaders made one of those
inspirational speeches. The rain drenched crowd cheered. It was a kind of street
carnival. I witnessed a great deal of laughter, singing, dancing and beating of
drums and blowing of horns. The mood of the crowd might be described as a war
party disguised as folk music festival using voodoo rituals as the weapon of
Apologies for the uneven quality of
the photographs but anyone can tell you that shooting photos using a cell phone
in the rain while trying not to get run over in a massive sea of people isnít as
easy as it sounds. Hopefully the photos will give you some idea of how one
person witnessed the demonstrations on Sukhumvit Road this 17th March
The smile still worked in the
crowd. It wasnít a threatening feeling caught in the midst of these thousands of
people. There were lots of women as well as men, the young and the old;
students, teachers, farmers, labourers, and some office workers. Those who lived
and worked on Soi 31 took time out to wave at the crowd and they waved back.
By 12.30 p.m. the demonstrators
turned and began to exit Soi 31 for Sukhumvit Road. I was told they were headed
next to the American Embassy.
By 1.30 p.m. the traffic was
starting to slowly move again on Sukhuvmit road.