[Wed. Feb. 25, 2009, 9am Thai Time]
Monday, E suggested we go eat at the Buddhist Vegetarian place. She'd passed it on the way to work and it was open. It had been closed for three or four months. We got there and the buffet didn't have much selection and there were only a few people there. But some friends of E came over to talk. I got the gist of what they were talking about but when they left I checked with E to make sure I got it right.
Saturday night there had been a gay pride parade scheduled for Chiang Mai. But a group of red shirts had showed up and told them that this was not part of Thai tradition and that they should pack up. They decided to listen to that and canceled the parade.
The reason the restaurant had been closed so long is that they had gone down to Bangkok to feed the protesters who had shut down the airport. So we were in a Yellow shirt place. The red shirt group supports former Prime Minister Thaksin who is trying to come back to Thailand and become prime minister again. The yellow shirts support the current government. Things were falling into place. When we had our anniversary dinner, some of the people were late because the street had been closed and there were people marching. Well, it turns out that was a red shirt demonstration. So far we haven't seen anything ourselves. But E only partially joking suggested that it might not be safe to eat at this restaurant because the red shirts knew it was a yellow shirt place.
In my experience, while there has always been a certain level of interpersonal violence in Thailand, this seems like a different sort of turn of events. I'm not sure. I've been more focused on other things.
There was also news of two different Westerners killed in the South recently, and just the other day a foreigner's head was found in a plastic bag hung from a bridge in Bangkok. I suspect that was grisly enough it made the US papers. But none of this, as I said, has been visible to us in our daily lives.
After lunch at this place, which is free if you only get rice and one other item, you wash your own dishes. E laughed as we were leaving and I noted that the foreigner in the top picture was wearing a red shirt in a yellow restaurant.