Out with a Bangkok

Friday, 21 December 2007 — 6:59am | Adventures

This is my final transmission of the calendar year, as I will be spending the rest of it in Thailand for the World Universities Debating Championship at Assumption University. I visited the country four years ago under related circumstances and got a hearty taste of the Bangkok-and-area tourist experience in all its kickboxing, tuk-tuk-riding, Buddha-sighting, Patpong-prowling, elephant-riding, snake-farming, Chris-Samuel-losing, international-heritage-preservation-treaty-violating glory, but this year’s excursion promises a broader sweep of the country.

Now, if you have been paying attention to world news over the past fifteen-odd months, you probably know that Thailand is currently ruled by a military junta that seized power in a bloodless coup endorsed by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej himself, whose patriotic musical compositions the army played on the airwaves as they shut down lines of communication. (The King, you see, is a revered clarinetist, saxophonist and big band composer who once shared a stage with Benny Goodman.) It just so turns out that the military, having drafted a fresh constitution, is relinquishing power on 23 December, the scheduled date of a general election. And I’m going to be there.

I’ve never been in a country in the midst of a transition out of martial law before, and I have to sheepishly admit that I’ll be disappointed if nothing noteworthy happens, and tourists can just go on with their exploits without noticing a thing. In theory, it should have some of the uncertainty and excitement of being in a foreign country as it moves into a state of martial law, but none of the risks and logistical hassles. Naturally, we should keep in mind that the legitimacy of the election is already suspect, but the people of Thailand are no strangers to seeing their votes invalidated.

I’ll naturally be carrying pen and paper at all times, so if there is anything interesting to report beyond the bird’s-eye-view of the media, it will eventually make its way here. Happy Christmas, and may your holidays be adventurous.


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