Military Oddities?

Well after writing last night we took a cab back to the Siam (สยาม) Square area, which is comprised of a bunch of interesting little Soi’s with little shops and trendy boutiques. Unfortunately, many of the places were closed already. However, there was an interesting rock concert going on, which we caught a little of. After we’d seen enough we headed back to the street we were staying off of, Sukhumvit Rd, which is a pretty major street, along which one of the Sky Train lines runs. There is yet another tourist-oriented night market there. After a bunch of wandering around we decided to call it a night.

This morning we decided to head up to Chatuchak Park to visit the Chatuchak Market, which you may recall I visited my first weekend in Bangkok. It’s a pretty amazing sight to see. They call it the largest weekend market in the world. It’s so large that it’s hard to imagine that it’s only open on Saturday and Sunday. You can pretty much get just about anything there! Chris got some Thai silk pillowcases to send to his family for gifts.

After we’d been marketed out, we decided to head over to the Dusit Palace, where I’ve also previously been, which is the more modern palace built in the late 19th Century after King Rama V (King Chulalongkorn) returned from Europe and wanted a more modern capital here in Thailand. To get there we took the Sky Train to Victory Monument, as it was the closest we could get to it on the Sky Train. When we got there, something rather unusal happened. All the traffic in the crazy traffic circle cleared and this very large procession of military officers on horseback (at least 50 of them in a line, with a military escort as well) came around the roundabout and headed down the street we were going to, which leads not only to the Dusit Palace, but also paces by Chitlada Palace, where the King currently resides. It was pretty strange.

From Victory Monument we took a taxi to the Dusit Palace and toured the Vimanmek Mansion and also the throne hall (both of which I’ve previously written about). The throne hall, by the way, was the building that the tanks were parked outside of during the coup back in September. The Government House (Parliament Building) is in the same complex as the Dusit Palace. As we were leaving the throne hall another odd thing happened…this very fancy car, driven by a military officer who appeared quite important, pulled up, complete with a police escort. A few other fancy cars also came and military officers also came out of those as well. It was all quite strange, and just as they were closing the grounds of the Dusit Palace.

Afterwards we decided to walk the mile or so back to Victory Monument for the Sky Train, passing Chiltada Palace in the process. I thought it was a tad bit amusing that it was in fact surrounded by a moat, and the “island” which the palace compound sat on did have armed guards spaced around the wall (not to strange, as they have them at the Palace in Hua Hin as well). As we passed by we heard something similar to gunshots…almost as if it were a firing squad. Perhaps it was some military exercise or something for the King or something. 3 military helicopters flew overhead as well. Was today some special occasion or something? It seemed like there was an awful lot going on with the military! Maybe I’m just more alert to it since the coup, but who knows!

Anyways, now we’re back at MBK. I’m planning on staying tonight to make sure Chris gets off ok at 3am! I’ll get up real early and get the first van back to Hua Hin around 6am. Should be interesting!

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