Our first morning in Bangkok, we made our way back over to Chitlom to check out the Red Shirt encampment. The roadblocks that had been in full effect the night before now had openings big enough for cars and people to pass through. A few tourists like us wandered in, taking photos, while local people hurried past on their way to work or shops or schools.
"Joy is what you make of it," proclaims a BMW billboard next to a roadblock. The Red Shirts say people like them, in the countryside, are not getting their fair share of joy. Most of it stays in the city, they argue, in the glossy shopping malls and pricey restaurants.
Many analysts agree the protesters have a point. But as long as the demonstration lasts, the Red Shirts are cutting off the supply of joy to businesses in the Red Zone and impeding its flow to the entire economy.
Our old hotel, the VIP Golden House, is inside the zone. It will stay closed until the protesters leave, said the woman behind the desk with a stoic smile.
A traveling carnival was also sitting empty, as amusement-free as any amusement park I've ever seen.