Today at 14:00 Bangkok time, a bombing took place in an area of the city called Ekkamai. As the story goes this far, it was an Iranian man who threw one bomb at a taxi. When police arrived, he attempted to through another bomb at them. Instead it hit a tree, bounced back toward him and exploded, taking both his legs in the process.
Though I have to say that it does bother me that the Bangkok Post’s headline of the incident is that an Iranian was injured in the bombing rather than the 4 other victims that were injured by his bomb.
In January, two men were arrested in Bangkok who allegedly had ties to Islamic terrorist organizations. These arrests prompted the U.S. and Israeli governments to issue travel warnings for Thailand, and heavily touristed areas in Bangkok in particular.
However, to the best of my knowledge, no other counties duplicated these warnings. Not the U.K., France, or Australia. Not Canada or Ireland. This imbalance of information just led to the assumption by most that the U.S. was just overdramatizing the situation, as it usually tends to do. And, on that note, I was around Khao San, probably THE most touristed area in the country the next day; with no noticeable effect on the usual crowd either.
I first heard about today’s incidents from a friend who works in eastern Bangkok when we spoke on the phone this afternoon to confirm plans for dinner on Sukhumvit Road. She asked me if I had heard about some bomb story, which she though was around Playa Thai BTS station. Other than that, she really didn’t have any other details. Our Internet at work had been out all day, so nobody that I worked with had heard anything about it.
Once I got home and to my own Internet, I looked it up and found essentially the story provided above. It didn’t say anything about the BTS being shut down or any large-scale threat remaining, so I went ahead to meet up for dinner.
Also, instead of Playa Thai, where she had originally thought, which is right in the middle of the city, Soi 71 is a little farther out, only a couple stops away from the eastern BTS terminus, where I had gotten off and explored on my first day here in November.
For those unfamiliar with what a soi is or how street naming works in Bangkok and most of Thailand, it is actually fairly easy to pick up. Every major road will have it’s own name. Sukhumvit is a major road through Bangkok. Sois are side streets and alleys that split off from these main streets and are all numbered, evens on one side and odds on the other. The bombings happened on Sukhumvit Soi 71, a side street (though actually a fairly major one) splitting from the main street of Sukhumvit.
I was having dinner at Bourbon Street Restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 63, about a kilometer nearer the center of town. After dinner, I figured since Soi 71 was so close, and all the incidents ended hours before, I would go and take a look; to see what the street where it happened was like, perhaps find the spot itself, and maybe even get a photo of it.
Once I got to Soi 71, I walked down about 2 km, but couldn’t find any sign that anything had even happened out of the ordinary today. Traffic was there. Street vendors and stands were taking up the sidewalks and people were eating at street side tables, just as they usually would.
I kept an eye out for blast marks, as I figured those wouldn’t be fading away from the concrete so quickly, but saw no trace. Either I didn’t walk far enough down this road (though if their target was Israeli/American or even western interests, this was not the neighborhood to do it in) or no one seemed to care anymore and had simply and already moved on.
Still, as inept as this group may have been, it is evidence that such activity is happening in Bangkok. Short of hoping that it will not happen again, which is what we of course all want, we should at least hope that if such people are still here, they prove to be as horrifically incompetent as this group.