Happy New Year!

It’s New Year’s Eve in Bangkok & the city is gearing up for end-of-the-year celebrations and more protests. People are making last-minute merit by leaving offerings at shrines everywhere. This was on the curb outside the Chatrium: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a whole chicken left for the spirits. The chicken did not last very long – the local dogs are infidels.

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We’re off to Cambodia bright and early tomorrow morning – we’re visiting Angkor Wat. Happy New Year everyone!

A Christmas Miracle

You may recall, from previous posts, Mr. Harriet and Mr. Pendleton, Harriet’s two fish who live in the pot of our lotus plant. At a certain point Mr. Harriet seemed to disappear – maybe a bird ate him, maybe he flew away – and then Mr. Pendleton also disappeared – same issues – but somehow there are now four smaller fish. Also the lotus plant is somehow alive, which is against all reason. But yesterday I cut off a wilted leaf to prettify things for Christmas, and the cut stem kept miraculously bubbling all day, as you can see in this video. Mr. Harriet and Mr. Pendleton’s successors (children?) also make appearances.

Alas, Poor Starbung

So. Things carry on here; protests have been on hiatus all weekend because it was the King’s birthday on Thursday and nobody thought that anything could be done on only Friday. But Suthep (background info here) says that something will happen tomorrow, so maybe something definitive will happen? More likely: it won’t.

In the interim, I went up to Phra Arthit to pay a visit to the coffee-maker previously known as Starbung. Born Damrong Maslee, his nickname is “Bung”, which means “brother” in Malay; when he started a coffee cart, he naturally enough called himself “Starbung”. Starbucks took offense at this and demanded 300,000 baht in damages (plus 30,000 baht a month for legal fees); Mr. Bung has been fighting them as best he can, though he’d have to sell 500 cups of coffee per day just to keep up with their stated legal fees. So he gave in; the coffee cart is currently named Bung’s Tears.

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They are not selling t-shirts, which seems like a missed opportunity. His coffee is delicious, certainly more than that of Starbucks, who should be ashamed of themselves. You’ll also note that his coffee is halal.

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I left my telephone in a taxi this afternoon, which means that you won’t get to see poor-quality videos of the fireworks for the King’s birthday. What was most notable about these was that really powerful fireworks appeared to have been launched from the 7/11 across the street, which presumably means that I could be acquiring and launching such fireworks. Also I need a new phone.

Political Situation Update

Thai politics continue to be surprising. After a somewhat violent weekend, things calmed down yesterday and there’s a ceasefire for the King’s birthday. Suthep Thaugsaban, the leader of the protesters, declared yesterday that he was going to invade the headquarters of the police – who had, you might remember, been spraying the protesters with tear gas. The police decided that the correct thing to do was to have an open house, and everyone had a nice time. Today everyone’s cleaning up for the King’s birthday tomorrow.

What this all means is extremely unclear. Suthep declared victory, though as far as anyone can tell he hasn’t won anything. Yingluck Shinawatra hasn’t stepped down; nor do the protesters control any of the government ministries as had been an earlier plan. The military still hasn’t stepped in. There’s a warrant out for Suthep’s arrest on charges of insurrection, but this presumably means nothing: he also has an outstanding warrant on murder charges because of people being killed during the 2010 protests, for which he hasn’t stood trial yet; if you’re rich in Thailand, ordinary laws don’t apply to you. Presumably everything will start up again on Friday.

Yesterday I passed through the Flower Market, and this time I remembered to take some pictures. It was winding down by the time I was there – this is mostly an early morning market – but it’s going strong right now with flowers for sale for the King’s birthday.

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