Friday, April 30, 2010

Losing Chitlom

"Chitlom," we tell the driver as we get into a cab at the Bangkok airport. We are feeling rather pleased with ourselves, because the hotel we like is in Chitlom and everyone knows the Red Shirt protesters are hunkered down in Silom where they won't bother us.

As we cruise down the toll road at alarming speeds, the driver fills us in on the latest strife.

"Blam blam blam," he says, imitating a machine gun. "Accident. Pow pow! Accident!"

"Sounds like there have been more clashes," I say to Chad, shaking my head. "What a shame."

Then we exit the freeway, make a turn or two and come to a sudden stop in front of a spiky, homemade barrier. Sharpened bamboo stakes jut out from among piles of tires.

"Chitlom," says the driver, pointing at the Red Shirt roadblock.

At last we realize the true meaning of "Blam blam blam! Accident!" which is something like: "You can't stay in Chitlom, you fools! Someone might shoot you by mistake!"

Scrambling, we have the driver drop us at a nearby hotel. I immediately fall for its tacky extravagance but the rate is four times our budget, even after a Redshirt-Season discount. So we get on the wi-fi and hunt up a hostel across town.

Our new room is tiny, and the mattress is so hard it could be Chinese, but it's a cheerful place. As for the protests, we're fine -- they're far away and we're staying out of the area at night. We did go down and take some photos of the encampment today. More soon!

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