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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May you live in interesting times

How can one resist using this ancient curse when watching one's chosen home country dissolve into chaos? The photos from Bangkok are dire, as from a modern Hell, and now it's 'coming to a theater near you'! Of course, the Red Shirts were born here (San Kamphaeng/Chiang Mai), home of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra; in fact, just down the road from where we live. Why wouldn't they bring it home? But isn't it considered rather unintelligent to 'crap' in your own backyard? Is it not enough to put the world's media spotlight on your cause by trying to destroy the capital of your country?

Another cliche comes to mind: "How to win friends and influence people" - I can definitely say that it is not by using these tactics. Many around here (Thais and foreigners alike) have been suffering from Red Shirt Fatigue: plummeting tourism figures; lackluster economic growth; an uncertain future; reduced income; price hikes; loss of employment, etc. So, now with Chiang Mai having been a sanctuary of sorts from the chaos in Bangkok, we find ourselves also having to deal with their antics, including the ubiquitous burning of tires. Do we really need to enhance our reputation for air pollution?!?

For those interested in the thorny political particulars here in the 'Rose of the North' check out Chiang Mai Mail's page on Facebook for photos, comments and tweets. Thai Visa's minute-by-minute accounts from Bangkok have also been a very helpful way to keep up with events, especially if you know your way around Bangkok.