This week I wandered around the Raptchaprasong District with camera in hand and I couldn't help but compare recent events to events from my past.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F3.2  1/200th  95mm  ISO 250

 

This week I wandered around the Raptchaprasong District with camera in hand and I couldn't help but compare recent events to events from my past.

I was only a small boy during the 1965 Watt's Riots in Los Angeles.  I remember my uncle the police sergeant warning our families to stay home and fortify our residences as he himself headed towards the worst of it.  Los Angeles burned like never before.  Later driving through the city it reminded me of the war zones I'd seen on television watching old war movies.

 

I was only a small boy during the 1965 Watt's Riots in Los Angeles.  I remember my uncle the police sergeant warning our families to stay home and fortify our residences as he himself headed towards the worst of it.  Los Angeles burned like never before.  Later driving through the city it reminded me of the war zones I'd seen on television watching old war movies.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F3.5  1/200th  80mm  ISO 100

 

At the time I didn't understand.  I was only six years old.  I only knew black people were angry at white people and this was the result.  Why were they angry I wondered.  I made it a point to find out during my later life acquiring degrees in sociology, working the worst jobs I could find, and even spending a summer picking fruit in the San Joaquin Valley alongside illegal migrant workers from Mexico.

 

At the time I didn't understand.  I was only six years old.  I only knew black people were angry at white people and this was the result.  Why were they angry I wondered.  I made it a point to find out during my later life acquiring degrees in sociology, working the worst jobs I could find, and even spending a summer picking fruit in the San Joaquin Valley alongside illegal migrant workers from Mexico.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F3.2  1/125th  95mm  ISO 250

 

In 1992 I watched from my hospital bed a type of reenactment during the Rodney King Riots also in Los Angeles.  Blacks once again were rioting and burning the city and for the most part went unchallenged save for some ethnic Koreans on the rooftops of their businesses armed with AR15's and shotgun.  They worked long and hard for their small businesses and they were willing to die protecting them.

 

In 1992 I watched from my hospital bed a type of reenactment during the Rodney King Riots also in Los Angeles.  Blacks once again were rioting and burning the city and for the most part went unchallenged save for some ethnic Koreans on the rooftops of their businesses armed with AR15's and shotgun.  They worked long and hard for their small businesses and they were willing to die protecting them.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F3.2  1/125th  70mm  ISO 250

 

This time I understood their anger, even if I felt in this case it was misplaced.  No matter what I don't think even the rioters themselves will now agree rioting and burning a city is not a productive way to air their grievances.  Still, most will tell you it was these primitive and senseless actions which helped bring their grievances to the table for meaningful discussion and change.

 

This time I understood their anger, even if I felt in this case it was misplaced.  No matter what I don't think even the rioters themselves will now agree rioting and burning a city is not a productive way to air their grievances.  Still, most will tell you it was these primitive and senseless actions which helped bring their grievances to the table for meaningful discussion and change.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F3.2  1/200th  73mm  ISO 125

 

I can't take sides on these recent events in Bangkok.  I can't take sides because I can clearly see both sides have grievances and both sides have done much wrong.  I'm reminded of small children fighting on the schoolyard only focused on the last few words said to each other before the fight.  The history of their past  and the hope for their future is lost in the midst of violence and the human need to physically and emotionally release their anger in the most violent of ways.  Childish yes.  With school children we can easily see these traits.  When adults do the same we ignore them.

 

I can't take sides on these recent events in Bangkok.  I can't take sides because I can clearly see both sides have grievances and both sides have done much wrong.  I'm reminded of small children fighting on the schoolyard only focused on the last few words said to each other before the fight.  The history of their past  and the hope for their future is lost in the midst of violence and the human need to physically and emotionally release their anger in the most violent of ways.  Childish yes.  With school children we can easily see these traits.  When adults do the same we ignore them.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5.6  1/200th  89mm  ISO 100

 

Citizens of Bangkok turned out in droves to gawk at the burned buildings.  In our modern times everyone was armed with a digital camera and/or video camera and they were making good use of them.  I couldn't help ask myself how long the shelf life of their pictures would be and who they'd share them with.  More importantly I wondered if they'd pull them out and look at them often during the coming political season when changes would first be possible?

 

Citizens of Bangkok turned out in droves to gawk at the burned buildings.  In our modern times everyone was armed with a digital camera and/or video camera and they were making good use of them.  I couldn't help ask myself how long the shelf life of their pictures would be and who they'd share them with.  More importantly I wondered if they'd pull them out and look at them often during the coming political season when changes would first be possible?

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F3.5  1/200th  70mm  ISO 100

 

If history is any indicator they won't.  The pictures will become lost files on their computers, forgotten about when they upgrade their systems and the events of the last few months will move way back in their minds as nothing more than some distant unpleasant memory.  I'm guessing this will be the case because every year since the coup we've had "protest" season, and each year not a single politician faces up to the challenges of much needed change.

 

If history is any indicator they won't.  The pictures will become lost files on their computers, forgotten about when they upgrade their systems and the events of the last few months will move way back in their minds as nothing more than some distant unpleasant memory.  I'm guessing this will be the case because every year since the coup we've had "protest" season, and each year not a single politician faces up to the challenges of much needed change.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F2.8  1/200th  70mm  ISO 320

 

There are so many models throughout the democratic world for the Thai's to choose.  So much history to learn from.  But every Thai I've talked to concerning this mess tells me the issues are "uniquely Thai" and foreigners could never understand.  The solutions history has taught us which work every where else in the world, won't work in Thailand.

 

There are so many models throughout the democratic world for the Thai's to choose.  So much history to learn from.  But every Thai I've talked to concerning this mess tells me the issues are "uniquely Thai" and foreigners could never understand.  The solutions history has taught us which work every where else in the world, won't work in Thailand.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F2.8  1/200th  75mm  ISO 3200

 

I'm going to go out on a limb here and ask "why not?"  And if any Thai cares to answer I'll write down their answers of what makes these issues "uniquely Thai" and these would be the first issues we must first agree will not be part of our discussions.  Obviously, these are the issues getting in the way of progress so they should not and cannot be entertained in any sort of meaningful discussion.  Every negotiator knows there's a time to step past the fluff and get down to the issues that really count and forgot about the build up.  Now is this time.  If being "uniquely Thai" is impeding social progress them stop being uniquely Thai and fix the problems.

 

I'm going to go out on a limb here and ask "why not?"  And if any Thai cares to answer I'll write down their answers of what makes these issues "uniquely Thai" and these would be the first issues we must first agree will not be part of our discussions.  Obviously, these are the issues getting in the way of progress so they should not and cannot be entertained in any sort of meaningful discussion.  Every negotiator knows there's a time to step past the fluff and get down to the issues that really count and forgot about the build up.  Now is this time.  If being "uniquely Thai" is impeding social progress them stop being uniquely Thai and fix the problems.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm  @F5.6  1/200th  17mm  ISO 200

 

The streets are empty and small pockets of people and the lone car is all you can see on this normally bumper to bumper packed street.  Again, I'm reminded of movies I've seen showing the aftermath of different disasters.

 

The streets are empty and small pockets of people and the lone car is all you can see on this normally bumper to bumper packed street.  Again, I'm reminded of movies I've seen showing the aftermath of different disasters.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm  @F5.0  1/200th  16mm  ISO 200

 

Normally you'd never stand in these streets looking at your camera without paying attention to the traffic.  Normally this road is six lanes deep in bumper to bumper traffic.  These are not normal times.

 

Normally you'd never stand in these streets looking at your camera without paying attention to the traffic.  Normally this road is six lanes deep in bumper to bumper traffic.  These are not normal times.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L  @F3.2  1/200th  53mm  ISO 250

 

Across the road the theater and Big C is also burned out.

 

Across the road the theater and Big C is also burned out.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS  @F3.2  1/200th  120mm  ISO 400

 

Down the road a bit I run into thousands of broom and mop wielding citizens scrubbing their streets and coming together in a peaceful and productive manner.  Can this really be Bangkok?  I look closer and notice everyone is more or less faking it.  They seem to be there more for the news cameras and photo ops than for the good  of the city.

 

Down the road a bit I run into thousands of broom and mop wielding citizens scrubbing their streets and coming together in a peaceful and productive manner.  Can this really be Bangkok?  I look closer and notice everyone is more or less faking it.  They seem to be there more for the news cameras and photo ops than for the good  of the city.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS  @F3.2  1/200th  115mm  ISO 600

 

Everywhere you look there are gawkers and pretenders.  I wonder where the politicians are.  All this destruction and not a single politician?  Even the police and military seem to be keeping a good distance from the wreckage.

 

Everywhere you look there are gawkers and pretenders.  I wonder where the politicians are.  All this destruction and not a single politician?  Even the police and military seem to be keeping a good distance from the wreckage.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS  @F2.8  1/200th  170mm  ISO 400

 

I suppose it was mostly a social event and perhaps that's what the city needs.  A grand social event bringing people together for a common good, to put their bad feelings aside, to let bygones by bygones and work together for a better future.  Unfortunately I didn't see a single Red-Shirt or a single Politician involved!

 

I suppose it was mostly a social event and perhaps that's what the city needs.  A grand social event bringing people together for a common good, to put their bad feelings aside, to let bygones by bygones and work together for a better future.  Unfortunately I didn't see a single Red-Shirt or a single Politician involved!

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L  @F3.2  1/200th  28mm  ISO 320

 

 

Another cleaning party outside Gaysorn Plaza.

 

This lady was trying to temp the crowd to join in and clean.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L  @F2.8  1/200th  24mm  ISO 320

 

This lady was trying to temp the crowd to join in and clean. 

 

Close by a military post is barely manned and the soldiers  there seem to be resting and relaxing.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS  @F5  1/200th  150mm  ISO 100

 

Close by a military post is barely manned and the soldiers  there seem to be resting and relaxing.

 

And immediately next to the military post is a small gaggle of police who appear to be taking all of this in stride.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS  @F3.2  1/200th  100mm  ISO 125

 

And immediately next to the military post is a small gaggle of police who appear to be taking all of this in stride.

If history is our teacher, Thailand is in for some really dangerous times.  I doubt we'll see much until next year, much depends on if elections are held and if any real change takes place.  I fear the Thai people aren't up to the challenge of meaningful change and if they aren't, then the events of the last few months will pale by comparison to what will come.

What they're not accepting.. is that people without enough food to eat, without adequate medical care, without the opportunities of quality education and subsequent employment.. that if they then strip their last vestiges of hope for a better future.. (their vote) then history shows they have little to live for and would rather die fighting for change then maintain the status quo.

This time it was mostly public and commercial buildings.  Trust me when I say it can easily become residential areas and apartment buildings.  And that once that commitment is made it will be next to impossible to stop.  Change needs to come to the poor and disenfranchised and it needs to come now.  And I'm not talking only about the poor northern regions of Isaan.  We also have the insurgent south to deal with.  At least a bombing or killing happens every single day in the south.  The future is already here.. we only need to look at it and understand it could easily move to Bangkok.