Have you ever had one of those moments in life that are so powerful that you start to tear up? My Thai friend, who I haven’t seen in 16 years decided to take me to the Thai Political Protest in Bangkok. I had briefly heard about it on the US news, back in November but the coverage dissipated and most of us Westerners were unaware that it was still going on, 6 months later.
Now I am not Thai, nor do I have any business participating in another countries governmental conflict, but my politically active 62 year old buddy insisted that I would not be locked up abroad. So much of tourism in Thailand is negative, for the party and the “hangover” style blackouts, or the women. The reason I travel is to see how the native people live. Sure, now and then I will flow back into the crowds of falangs to enjoy a nice chat in English and a beer, but honestly what’s the point of traveling if you aren’t indulging in the culture, at that point you might as well just got to Venice Beach.
Though the crowds are no where near as intense and crowded as November, some of the participants basically LIVE at this protest site day and night for months, where they sleep on the concrete and several families and Thai people have set up tents and give out free food to feed the protestors.
Though at one point the protest turned violent, this night, while I was here I had only felt peace and simply a desire for change within the people around me. Sure, I don’t know Thai, and did not exactly know what was being said, but I had my trusty translator and everytime other people cheered, I took the cue to cheer as well.
Part of me felt nervous to be the only westerner there, dressed up in protest colors, but I only was given smiles from the Thai people. It was one of those moments I will never forget.