Well, I thought I would write a short note about life after the military coup. It has been almost three weeks since the caretaker government was totally ousted by the Royal Thai Armed Forces, led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Commander of the Royal Thai Army (RTA), The military established a junta called National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to govern the nation. Here in Chiangmai, we haven’t really noticed many changes apart from a few soldiers stationed at several key points throughout the city.
Although the curfew has been lifted in several tourist areas around the country, it still remains in effect in Chiangmai from 12:00am – 4:00am. This has not really affected us at all since we never are out at that hour anyway! Some say that it has not been lifted here, just for spite, since the northern part of the country is the stomping ground of the red party, the main supporters of the ousted government and the most outspoken opponents of the coup. When it will totally disappear in this neck of the woods is yet to be seen.
All the television stations that we normally received are all back in working order and the internet has not been affected at all, as far as anything we visit. You are greeted by a wonderful NCPO message if you try to access any site that is banned at the present time. Apparently, they are working on a local Thai social network that is supposed to be completed in a couple of weeks. How they think they can come up with a site to rival Facebook in that length of time has been the butt of many sarcastic remarks over the last week. There has been some concern over a more controlled blockage of the Internet but, so far, that has not come to fruition. It would definitely be a damper to many businesses and residents, and many have said it would the last straw and a reason to leave if it ever came to that point.
The reaction to the coup has been divided. Many are quite pleased with the way the general has been handling things. The protests have obviously stopped, leaders from both sides of the ongoing conflict have been shut down in one way or another, and life is back to normal for most parts of the country. Others are upset that true democracy has now been put on hold for at least another year, when they are saying elections may occur. As foreigners living here as guests, we are not really involved in the politics, and have no interest in taking one side or the other. If things take a turn for the worse, we will pack up and move to another warm, more calm, environment. So far, we are not worried in the least.
It will be interesting to see how the high season plays out. Will the same crowds return to indulge in all the treats that Thailand has to offer during the winter months or will they be put off enough by the military coup to seek calmer pastures? At the moment, the people at the helm are looking into ways to prevent the current atmosphere from discouraging visitors. The Thailand military leaders have recently launched a “happiness campaign”. Free concerts, food, hair cuts, and perky little female soldiers performing song and dance are meant to pave the way for post-coup reconciliation. However, at the same time, the military junta is heavy handedly stifling any opposition to their cause. It is all a little weird.
Right now, the only frustrating thing is the ongoing interruption of television programming by boring political announcements. We don’t watch a lot of tv but it seems that every time we are in the middle of a movie or show, suddenly we are bombarded with a screen filled with some obtuse correspondence while a voice drones away, obviously reading the latest and greatest political message. For awhile, we were provided with English translations but recently we have had no such luck. We have no idea what they are going on about. They usually don’t last very long, just long enough to piss us off!
The rainy season is now starting. Maybe it will help to wash away much of the political tension that has been blanketing the country for the last several months. Temperatures are slowly dropping as the cloud cover increases for a greater part of the days. We still try to keep our indoor temperature around 28-30 degrees Celsius. If we tried to keep it cooler than that on a regular basis, we would spend a fortune on air-conditioning. We actually start feeling chilly when it drops below 28! I guess we have become acclimatized to the heat after living in Asia for the last seven years.