Bangkok: Together We Can
Bangkok’s downtown streets received a serious cleaning Sunday. Seemingly borrowing on an Obama slogan (“Together We Can”), Bangkok Metropolitan Authority put out a call for volunteers to help city employees clean up the mess left behind by the Red Shirt protesters and the marks of the conflicts (soot from burnt tires, for example).
Throughout the course of the day thousands joined the effort, donning plastic gloves and surgical masks and toting around garbage bags. Remains of the bamboo barricades were loaded into trucks and broken glass and other trash were collected. Signs and lampposts received a scrubbing, graffiti and stickers were removed from walls and signposts, and some areas even received a coat of fresh paint. At the center of it all the still smoldering remains of Central World, Asia’s second largest shopping mall, drew a crowd for photos.
The mood was very positive and showed the city’s readiness for recovery and moving on. City workers power-washed the pavement and sidewalks and cut away trees and limbs that had been charred by fires. The BTS SkyTrain and MRT Subway are up and running once again with shortened hours. Monday those hours are expanded closer to the usual operating times. The government also eased the curfew which is now from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. for Monday and for the next seven days it will be midnight to 4 a.m. Chances are good it will be lifted completely thereafter. Siam Paragon and other malls are expected to be open on Tuesday. In honor of the arson-destroyed Siam Cinema, sister venues Lido and Apex showed Cinema Paradiso at noon on Monday. The streets of Bangkok are open once again… and jammed with traffic. So at least that part is back to normal!