On the Scene – Udon Thani Burning

Wednesday afternoon I was sat outside the Irish Clock Bar in Sampantamit Road, Udon Thani. Seven hours later I had a coach to board to Suvarnabhumi Airport as I once again bade farewell to Wonderful Wi and Thailand. My holiday was near its end and I was due to return to the UK.

At the time I was unaware some of the red shirt leaders in Bangkok had surrendered to police and called an end to the UDD protests in Ratchaprasong. Shortly after those events trouble kicked off in Udon Thani city big time. Word filtered through to the ex pats in the Irish Clock that something big was occurring in the city and so I hired a samlor (taxi) to take a closer look at the action, wherever it might be. A samlor driver always has his ear to the ground and mine knew exactly where to go.

We headed to Thungsi Muang Park where a large group of red shirt protesters, supporters and onlookers had gathered. In the top photo thick black smoke can be seen coming from the old City Hall building which protesters had earlier set alight. Our path to that was blocked as a gang of youths and young men set about destroying another government building opposite the park. The police were holding the traffic back and the army were already in attendance. Within one hour of me being there the crowd inside Thungsi Muang Park had swelled to about 3,000 people and most of them were in a very agitated mood. Here’s some more photos I took on that afternoon.

Youths throw rocks and stones at a government building.

The building was set alight and fire crews were quickly on the scene. During the two hours I was at Thungsi Muang Park the army sensibly patrolled the road but didn’t use any show of force towards protesters and onlookers.

Below are some more photos. Click on a photo to enlarge.

The above bottom middle photo proved rather ironic to me. It’s a picture taken on the grounds of a Chinese Shrine and City Pillar Shrine inside Thungsi Muang Park, it’s where most of the big crowd had gathered to look at the destruction before them. Beauty and anarchy just metres apart.

Time ran out for me as I had to prepare for my journey to Suvarnabhumi. This is the earliest chance I’ve had to publish the photos and that’s been done from back here in the UK. This one’s a bit of a rushed post as I’ve only been home just over two hours. I hope the photos cover the story. I was right in there….wow.


I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

14 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    Martyn, glad you are OK. Shortly after we spoke on the phone I got info that it was kicking off in UT. Some great pics that tell yet another sad story.

    Media coverage of the provinces has been limited so your first hand account is appreciated.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Approaching the Royal Palace Phra Nakhon Khiri Photo/Image =-.

  2. Hoo Don says:

    Mike I took a load of pics and got within 10 metres, probably less than that of the action. I didn’t feel threatened at anytime although Wilai gave me a bit of a dressing down for getting so close.

    ” Hus..band dunk, must keep back, can see everything from far.”

  3. Talen says:

    Martyn, Great photos…and a good thing you didn’t get hurt.
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..Bangkok Burning & The Red Shirt Road Show =-.

  4. Catherine says:

    Wow Martyn. You did get close to the action. And what’s up with this being brave bit? I’m glad Wilai gave you a dressing down, so I don’t have to 😀
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Jaideetv: From Thailand to the World =-.

  5. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine it was a sweet dressing down. I’d sunk quite a few draught Tiger beers and wouldn’t have gotten that close stone cold sober. It goes to show Tigers tread on parts most lagers probably couldn’t reach.

  6. Hoo Don says:

    Talen I didn’t feel in any danger but with hindsight I’d have been wiser keeping back a bit. Later I got amongst the crowd back on the shrine grounds and was greeted by open friendliness and no hostility at all.

  7. Jon says:

    Wow, eye witness account. Great pictures, well done getting them…too often people sit on their backside when things like this go on. Well done for documenting it.

    Things were nothing like this my end of the woods, just another day.

    Hope your trip was good btw?
    .-= Jon´s last blog ..Thailand Musings interview =-.

  8. Lawrence says:

    Martyn, well, thanks to those tigers we got some great close-up action shots from you, and thankfully you survived to tell the tale. The best and only, as far as I can see, reporting of events outside BKK has come from the likes of you and a couple of Aussies down in Ubon (memock and Isaan Style). The most encouraging thing I suppose in many ways is that you say how well you were received by everyone. I’m sure we will soon find Thais getting back to life as usual, though having learned their own potential perhaps they can never again be taken for granted by the BKK authorities.
    Apart from that … hope you had a good 10 days in Thailand.
    .-= Lawrence´s last blog ..Falling in love again in Thailand =-.

  9. Hoo Don says:

    Jon I wouldn’t say the photos are that great as my camera is only a click and shoot type. Reading some of the other blog posts makes me realize I’ll have to one day invest in a better model.

    It’s good to hear things are quiet in Saraburi but Udon is one of the big red shirt strongholds and I expect to read about more trouble in the not to distant future.

    The trip was fantastic but hell wasn’t it hot.

  10. Hoo Don says:

    Lawrence personally I believe the Chang can get you even closer to the action, I tend to stay off that stuff as it’s a little too powerful for me.

    I read Memock’s posts from Ubon and there are some excellent photos on his blog as well as some well written accounts of what happened.

    Thai’s getting back to normal…on the surface maybe but I think this whole thing is going to blow real ugly again in Isaan sometime soon, probably not long after the curfews are lifted.

    I was in Thailand for 19 days and had a great time.

  11. Adullamite says:

    Interesting that the BBC and the like have their folks in flak jackets and helmets and you wander around in a shirt taking pics! The Beeb should give their folks Tiger beer and save the cash!
    .-= Adullamite´s last blog ..All Saints Cressing =-.

  12. Hoo Don says:

    Adullamite- I did receive a bit of flak from Wilai but nothing too bad. BBC reporters would probably much prefer a gin and tonic to a Tiger beer.

  13. john says:

    hoo don i enjoyed your first hand account when i read it with so much news flying around i haven’t commented much but just read it seems if you dare to post your views on thaivisa you come under a torrent of abuse glad to see we can still talk about things on this and other blog sites around issan and Thailand
    keep on blogging
    ps did you change your underwear on the plane down to bangkok

  14. Hoo Don says:

    John yours views and stories are always welcome on the juice. I got the coach down to Suvarnabhumi and no I was fairly calm about the whole affair. Even after I’d sobered up.

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