Coup d'etat?!?

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September 20th 2006
Published: October 8th 2006
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19/09/06 - 20/09/06 Bangkok

Our overland journey from Siem Reap started early with a private Taxi to Poipet on the border with Thailand. We wanted to catch the bus but it didn't arrive in time for the daily train. (In the end we caught a bus to Bangkok instead, which departs every hour so it wouldn't have mattered). The journey was 160km of mud roads - How does the car suspension survive. I have no idea. It was a bone shaking journey all the way.

We walked through a mini no man's land over the border to the unpronounceable Aranyapathet in Thailand, whilst a man pushed our luggage a slightly different way around the various border fences, waiting for us at each interval in the bureaucratic process.

As gambling is illegal in Thailand there are huge Casino hotels all in the no man's land section that we walked passed, finally reaching the official entry point of Thailand.

We took a tuk tuk to the bus station and then a 4.5 bus drive to Bangkok. The first bus broke down with fan belt trouble after 10 minutes so we all hopped on to another one. It was interesting to see as everyone moved their luggage that someone was carrying a carrier bag of live snakes!!

After arriving in Bangkok, we headed for our standard BKK hotel and woke up to the news that the country was under martial law and a military coup had just taken place! The news came via an SMS message from Jeanette's brother, Stephen. We instantly switched on the TV to catch the news but all the channels were showing library footage of the King.

We headed out and about looking for signs of the coup and spotted a few soldiers and a couple of main roads closed off but no other real signs of any change. In an Internet cafe, the BBC News website warned British citizens to stay out of the streets but in effect, we could perceive no threat. Eventually we passed some Government buildings in a taxi and I stopped to run out and grab some pictures of the tanks and soldiers. (sorry for the quality - it was dusk and no tripod) Thai citizens were handing white roses to soldiers who were accepting them to applause from other spectators. They placed them on the tanks or their guns, already tied with yellow ribbons.

Banks and a few high end shops were closed in the Siam Paragon shopping area and the streets were unusually quiet for a Wednesday in a normally chaotically busy city. Taxi journeys around town were at an unbelievable speed on streets that would usually be gridlocked. It was great!

We headed to the airport at 4 a.m. On the 21st for our Druk Air flight, via Gaya in Northern India, to Paro airport, Bhutan.


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