And the seas parted…

There is this regular phenomenon that happens in Bangkok. As you’re walking along a street you start noticing that there are pairs of policemen at each junction and street corners busy on their walkie talkies. This eventually leads to all the traffic mysteriously stopping and the silence is almost eerie without the noisy tuk tuk engines and buses, not to mention the hundreds of motorbikes and the cars, of course.


And it’s not just the traffic that’s stopped it’s also us on the overhead skywalks:


… leaving lonesome cops standing in the middle of empty streets normally teaming with traffic:


This usually means that someone important in a posh cream coloured mercedes limo is about to drive through together with its string of ominous black vans and motocades.

Usually it’s royalty, and hence why we are also stopped on the skywalk as out of respect we shouldn’t be standing above their heads. Just like you shouldn’t lick the back of stamps with the King’s head on it, like I almost did once infront of a very disapproving postman.

It must be a logistical nightmare to clear the streets of Bangkok to make way for Royalty, but when you’re standing there watching it all seems to be done with such amazing fluidity. Or is it?

Recently I was talking to one of my business clients who had an American exchange student with her for 3 months who happened to be best friends with one of the Thai princesses who normally lives in the USA but was in Bangkok during her summer holidays. My colleague asked me to guess how long it had taken her the other day to drive from MBK to Mochit – 10 minutes, she said. This is just unheard of. You’re lucky if it takes you less than 30 minutes.

As it turned out her exchange student kept inviting her best friend the Thai Princess everywhere, which meant that traffic had to be cleared for her each and every time, which took a lot of preparation and time with her personal body guards having to call all the different district police to clear the roads. Tiredly, after a couple of weeks of this, my colleague had to ask her exchange student to stop inviting the Princess to everything. Understandbly I’d say.

6 Comments so far

  1. chris (unregistered) on November 25th, 2004 @ 11:34 pm

    It’s refreshing to have read something about this ‘phenomena’. Not surprisingly, we hardly ever talk to write about it here even if everybody knows what it is. :)

  2. Ben Harris (unregistered) on November 26th, 2004 @ 9:19 am

    As I was passing through the MBK junction this morning, I noticed two well presented policemen (not normal) standing there with walkie-talkies so I was happy to avoid being delayed.

    There are so many unique things about Thailand that you forget until they happen – again.

  3. isriya (unregistered) on November 27th, 2004 @ 9:35 am

    I think I can accept that if the ‘real’ royalty comes. Sometimes I can’t cross the road because of the king’s ‘image’ in the car!

    We can’t talk about this much in this country.

  4. Lisaya (unregistered) on November 29th, 2004 @ 5:03 am

    Gorgeous photos, they’re so descriptive!

  5. PeterBoon (unregistered) on November 29th, 2004 @ 9:53 am

    What’s unbelieveable is to consider that the entire path of the entourage receives this similar treatment. I remember going from the Ploenchit Expressway offramp to Emporium. You could tell someone big was about to come, cuz each intersection had 6-8 nicely dressed police officers and each Soi had at least 2 officers. I wonder if there is a whole division dedicated to this type of work.

  6. Paul (unregistered) on November 29th, 2004 @ 10:26 am

    Peter: any VIP that wishes to have a police escort can request one from the police. Unfortunately, this is a much abused priviledge. In fact, a Bangkok Post article last week indicated that police resources are stretched, that highways and neighborhoods are under patroled, and that officers often arrive late at accident scenes because too much of their resources are devoted to escorting celebrities, politicians, foreign dignitaries, and even academics around. While some of these trips are important, many include trivial crap like the VIPs who want to go shopping.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.