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Suthep visits Ekamai, a photo feature
- Published: 15/01/2014 at 09:10 PM
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What's a march through Bangkok led by Kamnan Suthep like? I had my first chance to witness one myself today and I brought my camera along.
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More than an hour before the first marchers appeared, local residents, many of whom had already been out for two hours, were peering into the distance for signs of movement.
Suthep visits Ekamai, a photo feature
Story and photos by Terry Fredrickson
I live on Ekamai (Sukhumvit 63) and like many of my fellow residents I woke up in the morning wondering what the afternoon would be like.
We knew that anti-government protesters from the Asok rally site led by Suthep Thuagsuban planned to march the entire length of Ekamai but we didn’t know exactly when they would arrive or how long the road would be closed.
Following the news closely this morning, we knew that the marchers, reinforced by protesters from both Pathumwan and Ratchaprasong rally sites, had started out at 10am.
Since Asok is only 3 BTS Skytrain stops away from Ekamai, many people expected the marchers to reach us by noon or shortly after and they begin to gather along the road about that time.
I suspected it would be longer and from Blue Sky TV, it was clear that the massive crowds on Sukhumvit Road would keep Mr Suthep occupied for many hours. Indeed, the first marchers only reached our end of Ekamai, the Petchaburi end, about 3pm.
I went onto the street about 2pm and already there were many groups of people patiently waiting for signs the marchers were getting near. I noticed immediately that incoming traffic from Petchaburi Road had already been blocked off.
I walked back toward Sukhumvit for a ways to mingle with the crowds along side the road. Clearly, one group was hoping for a short conversation with Mr Suthep with a long string of 100-baht bills readied as an incentive. Mr Suthep traditionally gathers donations throughout every march.
The anti-government PDRC is, of course, strongly opposed to the Feb 2 general election and I noticed that in this part of the street at least, the Phue Thai election campaign signs had been turned backwards.
By now traffic had been largely cut off in both directions and the crowds of people were in the street looking towards Sukhumvit. They could see flags in the distance, but it would still be a while before saw the first marchers.
The traffic control team had been in position for more than an hour, however, and this young man seemed to be the leader at Ekamai Soi 22.
About 10 minutes before the first marchers arrived, this national flag seller came along, doing a brisk business. He had the right idea, because sellers walking with the crowd had a much more difficult time.
When the first marchers arrived, the whistles came alive from the sides of the road. The traffic controller stopped the marchers, however, to allow the rest of the procession to arrive. Interestingly, many of the first marchers were senior citizens.
Smartphones and social media are indispensible to the success of events like the Bangkok Shutdown and I saw people posing for group shots and selfies the entire route.
About four or five groups of marchers, together with sound trucks, blaring out music and speeches and slogans, especially “Yingluck get out,” passed us for the first 45 minutes of so. Then the crowd of marchers became noticeably thicker and guards hustled us off to the side of the road.
Suddenly, to my surprise, there was Kamnan Suthep himself, working the crowd, collecting money, responding to questions and, of course, hugging women and kissing babies. I snapped as many photos as I could, alternating with video, but the large, noisy crowd made it difficult.
Mr Suthep’s guards kept security as tight as possible. They held hands forming a large circle around Mr Suthep, not allowing any suspicious-looking person inside.
The marchers, many of them now of university age, keep coming for another 15 minutes or so, followed by a mass of motorcycles and what looked like ordinary traffic that had been caught in the procession.
That was enough for me and I went back home to see what kind of photos I was able to get.
About the author
- Writer: Terry Fredrickson
Position: Education Marketing and Support Manager