Civil Unrest in Thailand

The Thai demonstrations which turned violent on the weekend have been one of the main topics in the news lately, even though they started over a month ago.  Many of my friends in Singapore are concerned because of impending trips to Bangkok or Chiang Mai, and most people I’ve talked to at home are concerned primarily about my upcoming trip to Thailand.  In the interest of not causing any heart attacks while I’m gone (or any grey hairs), I’ll go through some of the details affecting my trip.

Map of Thailand

First of all, the details of my trip: I’m traveling to Krabi and the island of Ko Phi Phi on the Andaman coast in Southern Thailand; this is close to Phuket on the map above (you can click on it for a larger version).  Both areas are based primarily around tourism and although they are not as resort-driven as Phuket, they are by no means back-country Thailand.  I arrive in Krabi on April 30 with Andrew, then take a ferry to Ko Phi Phi where I will spend two glorious days lying on the beach to my heart’s content.  I return to Krabi on May 2, spend two nights there with Ari, then fly home early on May 4.

Now to cover the travel concerns: so far the protests have been confined to Bangkok and the northern provinces, both of which are geographically distant from Krabi.  The Thai government has declared a state of emergency in Bangkok and the Singapore government has advised against non-essential travel to the city; however, the Canadian government has yet to revise its travel advisory level for the region.  Other regions such as certain border provinces with Myanmar, Cambodia and Malaysia have experienced violence unrelated to the protests and the Canadian government advises against all travel to these provinces.

The protests in Bangkok started on March 12, and were peaceful enough until the recent escalations.  The Red Shirts are protesting the current government which they say took power without fair elections, and calling for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to step down; government supporters (wearing yellow) have not had greatly publicized involvement with the protests.  The Thai military has been trying to crack down on steadily escalating demonstrations and these clashes have recently become violent, but there have also been rumours that certain parts of the military are starting to become sympathetic to the Red Shirts’ cause and may call for the resignation of the Prime Minister.  Traditionally the military has been very involved in Thai politics and has participated in coups where necessary; the Thai King may also call for the Prime Minister’s resignation, and it is hoped that this will happen soon as he has been hospitalized since September and his son is not as well loved by the Thai people.  Barring these actions, there doesn’t seem to be any clear end in sight since Prime Minister Abhisit says he will not step down and the protesters show no signs of giving up.

None of the demonstrations have targeted tourists, and the Red Shirts have not resorted to violent means in order to make their point known, so unless the situation becomes more widespread I am comfortable with the level of safety I can expect in Krabi and Ko Phi Phi.  I will continue to stay up to date on the events that are unfolding in Thailand, and with the travel advisories issued by various governments, and I’ll post any revelations on here.

Thanks for your concern.

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