How any people can say they’ve lived under a military government? Well, now I can.
Despite what’s happening in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, located in the jungles of north western Thailand, is perfectly safe. I’ve been here for less than a month so I can’t speak with authority on the history and current events of Thailand, but after talking with Thais and other people who have lived in Thailand for 25+ years, I have sparknotes understanding of what’s happening.
Chiang Mai and the surrounding provinces are populated by the Reds/lower class party. The Yellows are the Royalists, who are mostly in Bangkok and southern Thailand. The Yellows work with the military. Their presence in Chiang Mai is small and seems to be mostly symbolic. They march around some the central areas of Chiang Mai and occasionally drive around, but don’t do much else, from what I can tell. Since the Yellows are not popular, they don’t want to cause trouble because they are outnumbered.
This is not Thailand’s first coup and seems to be different from than ones that have taken place before. The military is taking more extreme measures against protesters in Bangkok, detaining people, etc. Since the last coup in 2006, the country has changed a lot. There’s more technology, social media, etc, so the people are more progressive, diverse, and less tolerant of conservative and traditional rules. The clash of traditional and a new liberal Thailand will be interesting to watch.
One example of how much things have changed is how a fake official statement changed the rules of the curfew. When the military first took control, they set a 10p curfew that was by and large adhered to. There no patrols or anything, people just didn’t go out. Then, there was a statement released that the coup was relaxed to 12p. I originally saw it on twitter but I’m not sure who exactly released it. A few hours later, the military released a statement that the curfew was not changed. This caused a lot of confusion but few hours later, the military put out another statement confirming the curfew would be relaxed to 12p. From what I can tell, someone sent a fake news story, the story spread and became a fact.
I haven’t been keeping up too much with what’s going on since most of the action is in Bangkok. From my perspective, things are relaxed and safe in Chiang Mai even though everything closes at 12p.