Sadly, My Optimism About Thailand Being Safe Might Have Been Premature


In my recent post: Coup d’etaut in #Thailand: Should You Cancel Your Trip? I said no you should not. Unfortunately, the unfolding of events on the ground two days after the #thaicoup as well as an exchange with a person who travels to Thailand quite often, has made me think that maybe I spoke too soon.

First, I received this message on Facebook.

Just returned from a month in Thailand. Your advice is poor and ill-conceived.

Well, anyone who says that my advice is poor and ill-conceived gets my immediate attention (don’t get any ideas here, fellows 🙂 ), but when I started reading I realized that this person really knew what he was talking about.

So we exchanged a few messages and he gave me the permission to post his thoughts with a condition of anonymity. I’m posting our exchange in its entirety without changing anything.

I spend most of my time in the north of Thailand as well as in Issan. My wife is a Thai citizen and she lives in Chiang Mai. I travel the North extensively Lamphun, Lampung, Chiang Mai , Fang etc. One of my best friends is a lieutenant colonel in the Thai police force stationed in the north and there is a great and deep resentment among the police in the north toward the elite in Bangkok and the military that has been unleashed on them.

You’ve probably heard that the Army is on the side of the protesters and the police are on the side of the old government. It would seem to be true. The red side in the north has been heavily arming themselves for this confrontation. The potential for Civil War and even battles between the police and the army is there.

Thai citizens, being so used to coups, are taking this one lightly. It’s the Thai way. But these people in the north and issan are tired of being pushed around. Have been in constant contact with my dear friends in Thailand and the communique issued by the United States States Department has people up in arms. I fear that Americans may be targeted in the future by Suthep and the anti government demonstrators who were in cahoots with the army [bolding mine!].

These problems are not going away easily like in the past. The red side is tired of the army manipulating power and rewriting the Constitution in the favor of the Royalists. By word and action, Bangkok will starve Chiang Mai and issan economically in order to show who has the real power in Thailand but these once meek people will not submit this time I fear. For a farang sitting in Bangkok most everything is like business as usual but go up country and the sense of revulsion to this coup is palpable among the educated, the sme’s, and the working poor.

I asked if he really believes that it’s dangerous for people to travel to Thailand. This was his response.

Would recommend a wait and see approach toward travel to Thailand. Today’s events are quite troubling. Passing along a link from Thai Visa Forum, previously cheerleaders for the coup, which puts a chilling effect on the consequences of the coup.

BANGKOK, May 24, 2014  (AFP) – Thailand’s military junta said Saturday it had disbanded the Senate and placed all law-making authority in the army chief’s hands, dramatically tightening its grip after a coup that has sparked Bangkok protests and drawn international condemnation. 

Of course, this is just one person’s opinion. But then again, I’ve read a lot in the last couple of days about it not being “same old coup“. My conclusion so far would be this:

  • If you have to go to Thailand — go, but be vigilant.
  • If you don’t have to go — wait it out and see what happens.
  • You may want to avoid going to the North including widely popular Chiang Mai.
  • If you do go, don’t be an idiot and avoid protest or possible clash sites. Military and Police officers are not there for your amusement or photo opportunities.



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