The Bangkok Experience


A colleague of mine and I landed in Bangkok during the evening hours of Monday 17th August.

When the plane was taxiing at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhoomi International Airport, my wife texted me asking me if I was safe. I asked her why and she said that there was a bomb blast in Bangkok. At almost the same time, my colleague messaged me from another part of the aircraft that there was indeed a problem with a bomb going off in central Bangkok, very close to the hotel where we were supposed to check in.

Two thoughts hit me – one was that we were supposed to take an earlier flight which would have taken us to our hotel at around the same time the bomb exploded causing death and destruction. The other was that we are going to be stuck at the airport for quite some time, may be even flying back to Singapore in the next available flight.

We passed through immigration with no signs of any commotion in the airport area, went to the limo counter and checked about possibility of reaching our hotel. We were told that the area around our hotel was locked down and it was not advisable to try getting there.

We contemplated our position and surfed the web for information on the developing situation. It was going to be two hours since the blast happened. The best news coverage came from BBC News including the video of the blast. It was appalling. So many innocent bystanders and worshippers (at the Erawan Brahma Shrine) died in the blast and many injured.

Why this meaningless attack on a Shrine ?

I can only come to the conclusion that the world is heading towards an endless war against terrorism. We have known terrorism in one form or another over the past few decades, intensifying after the 9/11 attacks against Western interests. That form of terrorism was always laced with a tinge of extremist religiosity and intended violence with no regard for human life.

The attacks like the last week’s bomb blast at a tourist spot in the heart of Bangkok apparently had no motive of similar proportions. If it was intended to deliver a message to the Thai Government, it failed in that mission because there was no claimant, no one who claimed responsibility for the attacks, and there was no message. It was purely meaningless. If the purpose was to create panic in a tourist-driven country, that mission also failed. Things were back to normal in less than 36 hours.

We thought about our luck. If we had taken the earlier flight and reached the hotel before the blast time, then as was our usual practice, we would have taken a stroll along that busy intersection in the evening, looking for some place to have dinner. And, that was the time when the bomb blast took place.

Well, what do we say ? We changed the hotel despite encouraging words from the reservations section of the previous hotel which was unfortunately located too close to the blast. We decided against running back to Singapore. We continued to work for the next two days in Bangkok which seemed to be normal. I was wondering about the situation and the potential repercussions.

The Bangkok people are of course, shaken with the terror of such a bomb blast which happened in the middle of their lives everyday at the very heart of Bangkok. That is for sure – I do not believe they are okay. Obviously everyone is demanding answers, but there is none so far.

Hope things will really get back to normalcy, and seriously hope that they find the perpetrators.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

23rd August 2015

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