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    Sunday, April 25, 2010

    One week in Bangkok

    Bangkok - In case you've missed it, I've been covering the ongoing political crisis in Thailand live from the streets of Bangkok for The Globe and Mail.

    You can read my newspaper reports on the standoff between the government and the Red Shirt protesters on the website, but here's a snapshot of the minute-by-minute stuff I filed via my Twitter account (

    (Note, this isn't a complete transcript of what I sent to Twitter, just a selection of "greatest tweets" compiled by the staff of They've posted more of my photos over there too.)

    Timestamps reflect local time in Bangkok...

    April 17

    • 10:38 a.m: Three more Bangkok malls shut by Red Shirt protest. Hyatt Erawan closed too RT @RichardBarrow SIAM PARAGON/SIAM CENTER/SIAM DISCOVERY closed

    • 10:39 a.m: Thumping rain in Bangkok this morning has sent many Red Shirts running for cover. Protest site emptiest its been in days.

    • 12:24 p.m: Bangkok Post: Thailand future "precarious." Thaksin party a threat to "revered institution," civil war possible:

    • 7:23 p.m: The waiter in the Japanese restaurant I'm in just blamed the lack of tuna on the Red Shirts. Thaksin, what have you done??

    April 18:

    • 10:16 a.m: Red Shirt leaders claim part of army would defend Reds if new crackdown. "Tanks would fire at one another."

    • 12:51 p.m: Thai Red Shirt protestors plan move to Silom banking district, military says will block them. Silom "out of bounds."

    • 4:48 p.m: Thailand "Red Shirts" plan mass rally Tuesday, call on supporters to withdraw savings from "symbol of the aristocrats" Bangkok Bank.

    • 5:56 p.m: Thailand: Pro-government "Yellow Shirts" give military one week to end Red Shirt protests or will act "to preserve the nation and monarchy"

    • 5:59 p.m: Thai army vows to block Red Shirts if they try to move protest to Silom financial district:

    April 19

    • 10:16 a.m: Thailand: Red Shirt leaders back away from clash with military, cancel plans to expand protest to Silom Road financial district.

    • 12:57 p.m: Shoppers, Yellow Shirts and soldiers in riot gear mingling on Silom Road. Bizarre. Half of Bangkok still acting like place not falling apart

    • 1:01 p.m: Army Humvee parked where the food inspector's car should be in front of KFC on Silom Road.

    • 2:04 p.m: Barbed wire, soldiers on Silom Road, Bangkok

    • 2:33 p.m: Red Shirts, not police, control Chitlom BTS station over demo site

    • 7:58 p.m: Uh-oh. Intercontinental Hotel in centre of Red Shirt protests in Bangkok closing its doors, citing troop movements.

    • 10:05 p.m: Sigh. Terrorists, terrorists, terrorists. I moved out of the Middle East to escape the word, now everyone in Thailand is using it.

    April 20

    • 10:22 a.m: is being evicted from my second hotel this week. You'd think I was throwing TVs out the window.

    • 10:32 a.m: Red Shirts have erected black tarp over main stage area in central Bangkok. Will obscure both the sun and the view of anyone spying above.

    • 11:59 a.m: Death toll from Qinghai earthquake now over 2,000. Another 200 still missing.

    • 4:27 p.m: Mood still tense, Red Shirts on motorbikes patrolling beyond usual protest camp borders, some carrying bamboo poles.

    • 10:05 p.m: Amnesty International: "All sides in Thailand’s widening political conflict should immediately commit to ending human rights abuses."

    • 10:05 p.m: Amnesty "urges [Thai government] to provide accountability for any violations by security forces as well as abuses by violent protesters."

    April 21

    • 10:21 a.m:Thailand's Red Shirts preparing for new army move, building tire barriers at all six entrances to their central Bangkok protest site.

    • 5:22 p.m: As both sides talk war, there are scattered reports that negotiations are finally taking place... #thailand

    • 7:23 p.m: Extremely tense now at Silom front line. Hundreds of Yellows chanting "get out!" at Reds from behind line of soldiers.

    • 7:24 p.m: Tuk-tuk backfired near front line between army, Reds, and everyone ducked. #thailand

    • 8:32 p.m: Red Shirts have expanded positions north of Lumphini Park. Checking IDs of drivers before allowing them to pass. #thailand

    • 8:33 p.m: As army defends Silom financial district, Reds slowly taking over other parts of Bangkok beyond long-time camp.

    • 8:58 p.m: Police have moved in to break up clashes between Red Shirts and local residents near Silom intersection. Tense. #thailand

    • 11:23 p.m: Helicopters in sky over Bangkok. Several loud bangs heard. Fireworks or flares.

    • 11:34 p.m: Orange flares all over the sky as helicopter buzzes over Bangkok Red Shirt protests.

    April 22

    • 3:12 a.m: Anyone thinking about upsides, downsides of Twitter shld check #thailand tag. Up-to-the-second updates blended with vitriolic hate speech.

    • 11:54 a.m: Several thousand Red Shirts marching today to United Nations office in Bangkok to request presence of peacekeeping force.

    • 12:25 p.m: How charged is the rhetoric in Thailand? Government says Red leader Thaksin akin to Hitler and Stalin. Reds say PM Abhisit like Pol Pot.

    April 23

    • 7:24 p.m: Scene at Sala Daeng intersection more relaxed than yesterday. Pro-govt crowd is bigger, but police doing better job of keeping sides apart.

    • 7:27 p.m: Police have parked five large trucks across intersection, which should prevent easy restarting of last night's clashes. #thailand

    • 7:34 p.m: Yep, real-live Yellow Shirts have joined the crowd on Silom Road. Mood more festive here than at Red rally, but of course Reds on Day 41...

    • 7:35 p.m: Army deployed to Silom to keep district's businesses from suffering fate of Rajprasong. But stores shutting down here anyway...

    • 8:22 p.m: Two explosions heard in Bangkok's business district; at least one person wounded, Reuters reporting.

    • 8:23 p.m: Was there and heard blasts. Thought little of them. #toomuchtimeinwarzones

    • 8:28 p.m: What I saw/heard were fireworks fired from Red side over police barricade. Not M79s, as some reporting.

    • 9:19 p.m: Situation tense on Red side of barricade after mystery explosions. Reds leaving 40 metre gap behind wall of bamboo and tires. Plan to light?

    • 10:30 p.m: Helicopters flying over Red Shirt protest site, Reds target them with jeers, fireworks.

    • 10:31 p.m: Man beside me with club assuring me it's still safe to travel in his hometown. "No trouble! just relax! Welcome!"

    • 10:38 p.m: pro-govt supporters now thowing rocks, bottles over barricade. Reds respond with firework into crowd. police caught in middle...

    • 10:44 p.m: series of small blasts at Silom intersection. police still holding back

    • 10:44 p.m: police now withdrawing with shields raised. leave field open for street fight between yellow, red

    • 11:02 p.m: Police withdrawing further away from ongoing clash. Handful of pro-govt types tossing bottles and rocks over. Reds replying with firecracker

    • 11:12 p.m: Two tourists pulling rolling suitcases just ran through centre of Bangkok street fight.

    • 11:16 p.m: street fight escalating. police unit I'm with retreating a block.

    • 11:20 p.m: Men in motorcycle helmets advance toward Red barricade hurl projectiles over. Amazingly no effort by police to intervene.

    • 11:16 p.m: street fight escalating. police unit I'm with retreating a block.

    • 11:20 p.m: Men in motorcycle helmets advance toward Red barricade hurl projectiles over. Amazingly no effort by police to intervene.

    • 11:29 p.m:Thai police hiding under overpass (with me) as fighting escalates (pictured)

    • 11:38 p.m: riot cops finally moving in between two sides.

    • 11:39 p.m: Reds cheering (Bronx cheer?) as riot cops move in

    • 11:42 p.m: Riot police moving down Silom driving back pro-govt rioters. Reds playing music and dancing. If this the end, a victory for them.

    • 11:58 p.m: Thai police making arrests on Yellow side of clash. Red rally continues

    • 12:08 a.m: If it was this easy to end the fighting, the question needs to be asked why it wasn't done hours ago...

    • 12:14 a.m: Yellows on Twitter talking of arming themselves because of government "weakness" in facing Red Shirts.

    • 12:16 a.m: Reds bamboo fortress unbreached despite clashes

    • 12:44 a.m: Battle of Silom Road over for now.Question is what next? Helicopters in the air now, Reds appear to be targeting them with fireworks...