GadlingTV’s Travel Talk – Thailand Part 11: Red Shirts

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After riding elephants, eating scorpions, walking through Hellfire Pass, and visiting the famous bridge at the River Kwai, one of the only items left on our to-do list in Thailand was to speak with people that were passionate about the sensitive political environment. As we arrived back into the city, we caught word that a “Red Shirt” protest was taking place in Bangkok’s shopping district; so we went straight to where the action was.

To give some brief context, last year’s political events in Thailand resulted from clashes between two opposing camps; Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts. The Red Shirts (formally known as the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship) are mostly middle-class and rural citizens in favor of the progressive former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. Shinawatra was removed by a military coup in 2006 (organized by the Yellow Shirts), which many Thais believe is due to the fact that Thailand’s Royal Family was threatened by Shinawatra’s success.

While Bangkok is currently stable and nearly all demonstrations have disappeared since the late summer of 2010, we felt privileged to be on the ground during this event, speak with those that had risked their lives for their beliefs, and share it with you here.

If you have any questions or comments about Travel Talk, you can email us at talk AT gadling DOT com.

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Hosts: Stephen Greenwood & Aaron Murphy-Crews

Special guests: Sean Boompracong, International Media Director for the UDD.
Produced, Edited, and Directed by: Stephen Greenwood & Aaron Murphy-Crews
Special thanks: Tourism Authority of Thailand, Trikaya Tours

Travel Talk took Thailand by storm on invitation from the Tourism Authority of Thailand. No editorial content was guaranteed and Aaron & Stephen were free to openly share all adventures that they embarked upon.

Bangkok government protests escalate

For those not following the recent news from Thailand, the country has yet again been experiencing political unrest. The Red Shirts, supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, have been demonstrating on the streets of Bangkok since mid-March. The protests have been largely peaceful up to this Saturday, when events turned deadly. The BBC is reporting nine people were killed and 300 injured in the current skirmishes, including four civilians and a foreign Japanese journalist. The U.S. State Department has also issued a Travel Alert on the situation.

Although clashes have been isolated in a few spots in Bangkok, namely near the city’s Democracy Monument, clashes with the protesters, military and police this weekend edged closer to nearby tourist spot Khao San Road. Several Khao San Road tourists were apparently injured when they failed to move out of the way. Riot police have also been massing near Bangkok’s main shopping district in anticipation of an upcoming protest rally. The city’s Skytrain mass transit has also been temporarily halted.

Anyone planning an upcoming trip to Bangkok should keep a close eye on the situation and exercise extreme caution until the situation cools down.