Lumphini Park Becomes Lumphini Camp

Joggers and other users of Bangkok’s Lumphini Park were complaining that their use of the area was being hindered by the protesters camped there. That obstruction is probably going to change, but it’s going to get worse. The leaders of the protest decided to close all the other protest sites, unblock the roads and move all activities to the park.

I walked to the park late Sunday morning and got in the middle of the thousands of people setting up camp, listening to speeches, waiting in food lines and lazing in the shade to escape the hot sun. Compared to the park yesterday, this is a huge change. My guess is that nobody will be able to use the park for activities like jogging, bicycle riding, or outdoor aerobics classes.

Saturday, I strolled to more remote areas of the park, and there were still some pockets of quiet and serenity in the lush landscape of tropical trees and flowers.

Flowers in Lumphini Park
Just a few of the hundreds of flowering trees and shrubs in Lumphini Park
Chinese Pavilion at Lumphini
This is the Chinese Pavilion in Lumphini. It was an oasis amid the chaotic areas.
Chinese Pavilion, Lumphini Park
Here’s a better view of the Chinese Pavilion.

Even in some of the tent encampments the scene was peaceful, almost serene.

Tents along a stream at Lumphini Park
A tent area along one of the many watercourses in the park.

That peacefulness is gone, I suspect. Throughout the park, hundreds of new tents have been erected with the arrival of protesters from the other sites. I wish everyone well, but I’m afraid they’re not making any friends with the other users of the park.

Protesters at Lumpini Park, Bangkok.
Just a small part of the many protesters at Lumpini Park, listening to speeches.

The mood, though, remains festive, almost like Mardi Gras, with people wearing smiles along with costumes and accessories that proclaim their involvement. Here are a few of them.

Protesters at Lumphini Park.
Protesters at Lumphini Park.
Flag waver at Lumphini Park protest.
Flag waver at Lumphini Park protest.
Protesters at Lumphini Park
More people enjoying the day, sitting in the shade.
Protesters at Lumphini Park
I don’t know what the pink flags signify. Perhaps they’re one of the royal colors.
Coffee cup tuk-tuk.
Care for a BIG cup of coffee? Here, volunteers are dispensing coffee to protesters.

Foreign expats are involved, also. A German resident of Bangkok and his wife are outfitted appropriately.

German man and wife at Bangkok protests.
Ready to entertain the multitudes, a German resident and his wife join the protesters.

I entered the area again on Sunday night, and the number of people had dramatically increased from that morning. Thousands more protesters had arrived from the now-closed sites, and walking around near the stage was almost impossible. I was squashed from both sides in a slow moving line that was going nowhere in particular. At the first opportunity, I bailed out into an open area. Taking photos was equally difficult. The one below shows the main stage, but it doesn’t quite give the impression of the large crowd.

Night photo of crowd of protesters at Lumphini Park.
Part of the large crowd of protesters at Lumphini Park. I felt a small triumph that I was able to free myself from the crush of people to take this shot.

I was able to work my way to another exit from the park, just down the road from the subway station. I walked back to the main intersection of Silom and Rama IV roads. As you can see, traffic is back to normal. No more casual strolling down the middle of the street.

Intersection of Silom and Rama IV roads.
The intersection of Silom and Rama IV roads. This is where the main stage of the Lumphini protest was located. Now it’s in the park itself.

That was my brush with the protest areas in Bangkok. It seemed a different kind of protest from the ones in which people were killed in the violence. I hope we don’t see news headlines like that again.