Surviving New Years Eve in BANGkok

After arriving in Thailand just several days before a bloodless coup, it is perhaps fitting that the year ended with one last bit of action: detonation of bombs in Bangkok on New Years Eve! With 3 people killed and 30 odd injured, this is not a good time for Thailand. It is going to be interesting to see over the next few months how things develop in Bangkok, in the south of Thailand and with the government. Anyway, luckily I was not at any of the bombed locations on NYE - although I was not far away.

My plan was to meet some friends for dinner in Lad Phrao and then maybe we would get to some nightclubs or celebrations in or around central Bangkok. There is a van from Thammasat to Mo Chit, the northern most BTS Skytrain. From there it is about 15 minutes on the skytrain to most central parts of Bangkok (Siam, Sukhumvit, Sala Daeng). As an aside, the vans between Thammasat and Mo Chit are great - leave every 10 to 20 minutes, go along the tollway, so a 30km trip in Bangkok takes about 35 minutes and costs only 30 Baht! There are similar vans from Thammasat to Victory Monument - another BTS stop and major bus terminal (and site of one of the bombs!).

So I got to Mo Chit about 7pm and then went out to catch a taxi to Lad Phrao. If I could understand a bit more Thai then probably I would have overheard about the bombings - the first wave happened around 6pm - but I was oblivious to it all. What concerned me was it took about 40 minutes to get a taxi. Even though it was NYE, it was still only 7pm and taxis in Bangkok can normally be hailed in even the quietest of side streets.

Once I got a taxi, and after a few minutes chatting to the driver I discovered what was going on (and why taxis were taking so long - traffic was terrible around the centre of Bangkok). According to the driver, five bombs had exploded, included in Sukhumvit, Victory Monument and Saphan Kwai. Saphan Kwai is actually the next BTS stop from Mo Chit, so had I been going to the centre rather than Lad Phrao, probably would have passed by (or over) the bomb site. Luckily none of the bombs where in the BTS themselves.

I finally met up with the others and we had a great meal and plenty of beers at a local seafood restaurant (it was also Ann's birthday/graduation party). As the night went on we found out more information about what had happened, so although we enjoyed the night, it was a bit subdued. We decided not to go out after the restaurant (a good thing - there were two more bombs detonated around midnight) and so we all went back to Ann's apartment. Saw in the new year there and I was home by 2am. So still turned out to be a pretty good new years eve, given the circumstances.