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

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - CONTENTS - DEB­O­RAH BOGLE

Bangkok’s his­toric Man­darin Ori­en­tal ho­tel is the per­fect place for a break.

A TIERED

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.

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