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Sawasdee and welcome to Reporter's Notebook Thailand. I hope it proves more legible than the one I keep in my back pocket.
My decision to trade a D.C.-based reporting job for foreign correspondent work in Thailand was fully vindicated in late August. I had only recently relocated to Bangkok with photojournalist Pailin Wedel, also a GlobalPost contributor.
I was awake at 8:30 a.m., watching state-owned TV channel NBT in my underwear. A screaming mob, color-coordinated in bright yellow, was converging on the station's grounds. Only an iron gate manned by a dozen cops prevented them from storming the studio. NBT was broadcasting the riot live via a cameraman filming from the station's glass lobby.
Soon enough, the protesters had pried the gate loose and I watched cops scatter as it fell to the cement. In they rushed. The live feed went shaky — panicky cameraman? — and within minutes the station's signal went staticky and then black.
I went upstairs to shake Pailin awake. By lunchtime, we were walking over the felled gate, stepping lightly over its latticework, and entering the station grounds to cover our first protest since arriving to cover Thailand. The protesters numbered into the thousands. Some roaring with anger, others danced gleefully — high on victory. A more hardline faction, toting clubs and iron bars, held off the helpless police. These were likely some of the same enforcers who later stormed the prime minister's compound and two of Bangkok's airports.
These are the details that often stray too far from a dispatch's narrative. Writers are taught to kill their darlings — the bits, while too juicy to let go of, can't find their natural home in a particular story.
I hope to use this blog a repository for my "darlings." For example: the bomb scare that erupted mid-interview with a protest leader that sent both of us crashing to the pavement. (Probably high-grade fireworks.) Or the latest on a recurring Bangkok governor candidate who recently attacked an anchor on live TV. (He went with the elbow jab. Very Muay Thai.)
And, believe it or not, Bangkok life does not generally revolve around political upheaval. Thais know how to have fun and so should this blog. If I find a 20-something Thai nightclub crooner who has trained his voice to sound EXACTLY like Michael Bolton's, I'll try to upload video. (If you can't wait, head to Old Leng bar and ask for Jack Sparrow.)
Stay tuned. Thailand is pretty riveting these days, so I don't think you'll be bored. And, please, feel free to talk back with the comments feature.