QUEEN OF THE ORIENT
IIT’S EASY TO FORGET THAILAND’S RECENT TROUBLES WHILE BEING SPOILED IN ONE OF THE CAPITAL’S MOST LUXURIOUS HOTELS
Bangkok’s historic Mandarin Oriental hotel is the perfect place for a break.
pool, floating lotus flowers, waterfront terrace and the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok’s mighty watercourse where ferries, barges and long-tail boats ply their routes: that’s the view from our canopied day bed at the Mandarin Oriental. We sip our drinks and wonder – what were we thinking when we contemplated cancelling a couple of months earlier?
From the enclave of luxury and privilege that is Bangkok’s oldest and most famous hotel, it’s easy to forget that the Thai capital was paralysed by violent street clashes in May this year. At home, we had watched with growing alarm as the mostly peaceful campaign against the government by the Red Shirt protesters – who for more than a month had locked down a vast compound fanning out from the Ratchaprasong intersection – ended with soldiers storming the barricades with tanks, leaving 99 dead and nearly 1900 injured. In the violence that followed the assault, several buildings were burned, including the upmarket, multi-storey CentralWorld shopping centre.
Two months later most of the Red Shirts’ leaders are in jail and the largely rural protesters have been bussed back to their villages to resume the impoverished lives
Dining beside the Chao Phraya River at the Mandarin Oriental hotel.