Travel Thoughts: Bangkok during the coup and curfew implementation

It was just days before the departure for a holiday in Bangkok when the news of a military takeover was announced. While there were some worried travelers who cancelled their flights and postponed their trip immediately, we decided to go ahead (but with precautions of course). Travel insurance was a must, as was signing up with the MFA (Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to keep abreast of the situation and Singapore’s take on the situation, and of course keeping an eye on the local news when we were in Bangkok.

When we arrived at the Suvarnabhumi Airport, nothing seemed out of the ordinary; everything and everyone was bustling about as they should be at a busy airport. Even when we took the BTS to our hotel, it was reassuring that there were no glaring (obvious) signs of the turmoil that was portrayed on the news before we left. Unlike what the news reported, not all areas were high with tension and people went about their daily lives; locals and tourists alike (mostly in the unaffected areas).

Bangkok curfew
Life carries on...

On our arrival (and first day in Bangkok), our plans were somewhat changed because it was also the first day the curfew was implemented (and for all the days throughout our time there): we had to be back in the hotel by 10pm and not leave again until after 5am. The announcement was somewhat sudden, so on that first night we could see from our hotel a “mad rush” (as much as possible) on the roads with vehicles of all sorts filling up the streets to get home before the curfew. I can imagine it to be much more chaotic on the trains and buses.

Other than having to be back in the hotel by a certain time, our schedule was not greatly affected sans the late night market visits and eating part of the trip, and missing out on Asiatique. :( Despite the circumstances, the main inconvenience we had during our time there was the barring of TV channels – there was practically nothing to watch as we were confined within the hotel room for the first 2 nights (more channels were allowed for broadcast the following days, so it wasn’t all too bad).

Even when we were out, life seemed to go on as per usual with little hint to the turmoil that was hidden beneath and often portrayed on the (local) news; it was surreal seeing the chaos and riots on the news and yet walk about streets that were the exact opposite of what was being portrayed. No doubt that there was a crisis that was ongoing, but it seemed distant and life seemed to go on. The only reminder that a curfew was in place by a military coup (that had occurred) was the occasional TV signal (to say that that broadcast has been blocked), and as dusk approached shops closed early (as early as 8pm as they had to get home by 10pm); nightlife was almost non-existent.

Bangkok curfew
A reminder of the situation on television as life continues...

Despite that, we managed to have a good trip and still managed to eat and shop to our hearts’ content (well almost). It was, for the most part, an interesting experience and I would definitely visit Bangkok again sometime in the future.

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When travel collides with a byte, a unit of information made up of bits, TravelBytez is formed: snippets of ramblings on travel, food, shopping, living and anything else that comes to mind.


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