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Trouble in Bangkok, Thailand?

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- update 16 May 2010 - As people are seeing on their television screens around the world, the problems in Bangkok have escalated to such an extent that blood is being shed on the streets of the capital city. On Sunday (16 May), the black smoke of burning tires could be seen rising from the city from well over 30 kms away. Thai soldiers appear to be shooting on their fellow countrymen, some of whom are armed with just sticks, stones, bottles and fireworks.

 It is an extremely dangerous and fluid situation, and even if the army do manage to disperse the protestors from the Rajaprasong site, there is no end in sight to this problem that has highlighted to the world the massive fissures that currently divide the country.

It goes without saying that tourists visiting Thailand should avoid Bangkok completely, and instead travel south to areas like Phuket, Pattaya, Samui, Krabi, Lanta, Koh Chang, Hua Hin etc. if they still plan to visit the country. - end update -

Original Article: Tourists in Bangkok and its immediate surrounds, are being warned to take extreme caution, give a lot more time to get to the airport, try and check-in 3 to 4 hours early and expect delays, closures and other inconveniences this coming weekend - 12 - 14 March 2010.

In an email sent on Thursday, Andrew Wood, General Manager Chaophya Park Hotel & Resorts, long term resident of Thailand and Skal Int'l Councillor - Thailand, warned that, "it is fair to say that if u don't need to come to Bkk it would be best to avoid it this weekend."

The reason for such a serious warning, is that the political turmoil, which has been ongoing since the military coup which threw Thaksin from power in 2006, has been simmering, gradually coming to a boil, and this weekend very large demonstrations are planned in and around Bangkok.

In 2008 yellow shirt protestors closed the airports of Phuket, Krabi and Hat Yai before turning their attention to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport with disastrous results for Thailand's image and travel industry.

Will there be trouble this weekend? It is impossible to say for sure, but a lot of companies throughout Bangkok have closed offices that would normally be open in areas where the demonstrations are likely to take place. Some airlines are opening their check-in counters as much as four hours in advance, major disruption is likely on the roads and many airline staff have already been moved from city hotels to hotels at, and around, the airport until further notice.

 There is a strong feeling that this weekend could be a critical moment in the country's history, but we have been at similar junctures in the past. Regardless of which side is right, which is wrong - if you are in Bangkok this weekend, extreme caution should be taken. Make sure you have your airline's telephone number, that of your embassy etc. Or, alternatively use this moment of uncertainty, and do what many Thais are doing and head to the beach - perhaps enjoy the Hua Hin Kiteboarding World Cup which starts on 13 March 2010.

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