A few days ago I came across a Facebook page, 77PPP, which has lots of old photos and postcards of Thailand from the 1920s onwards. (there are 77 provinces in Thailand, so I guess it is 77 Provinces Photos and Postcards?). If you are interested in old photos or Thai life of bygone times it is worth a look but be warned there are lots of photos to download !
Yesterday I thought it might be interesting to go to some of the locations that I know and take some comparison shots.
I knew this was the south-east entrance to Lumpini Park from the clock tower in the centre of the photo, a short walk from Sala Daeng Skytrain station. You can just see the clock tower in the centre still, but now there is an expressway built overhead for through traffic.
This is the Erawan Shrine, at the Ratchaprasong intersection in central Bangkok.
In 1965 when the picture above was taken, the Erawan Hotel in the background would have been rather fancy for Bangkok. The shrine itself seems empty, but nowadays it is full of worshippers from dawn to dusk, and the surrounding area is full of 5 star hotels and glitzy shopping malls with the skytrain running overhead.
Ratchaprasong was also the site of a prolonged protest against the government of that time by the “red shirts” (supporters of former PM Thaksin who is on the run after being convicted of corruption) which was only ended when the military was sent in, with many people being killed, shops looted and buildings burnt down.
Nowadays political tensions are running high again, with many protests by yellow shirts, black shirts, student groups etc against the current government (led by Thaksin’s sister and/or proxy) which is allegedly trying to pardon him and give him back all his seized assets under the pretext of “national reconciliation’”. And now the red shirts, allegedly financed by Thaksin, are protesting against the protesters so yesterday while I was photographing the Erawan shrine this was going on behind me :
The irony of it all is that a pardon for Thaksin would also absolve military and government leaders of (possibly politically concocted) murder charges resulting from the military crackdown on redshirts yet they do not want this amnesty bill passed, while the redshirts want it passed even though those they hold responsible for the deaths of their comrades walk away scot free !
With the International Court of Justice due to rule soon on a territorial dispute with Cambodia over the Preah Vihar temple nationalistic feelings are also being stirred up, I could have arrived in Thailand at an “interesting” time !