Thai people celebrate three New Year's Days: Western New Year (Jan. 1st), Chinese New Year (in February), and Thai New Year, which is called Songkran and is celebrated in April. Songkran is by the far the biggest celebration of the year and it is usually a week long holiday. Songkran is often called the Water Festival by foreigners, because Thai people usually cram the streets to toss ice water on each other and smear chalk on each other's faces. We live near Bangsaen Beach, which usually has 100,000 visitors (at least, if not much more). Songkran begins tomorrow (Monday) but usually the festivities begin the weekend before. But this weekend it is very, very quiet. There are probably only a third or less of the usual Thai tourists to Bangsaen to celebrate Songkran. This is because the demonstrations in Bangkok and other locations are becoming very serious and deadly. People in Bangkok are afraid to leave their homes to go to their usual destinations to celebrate Thai New Year. Even people here in Chonburi province are pretty quiet. We get the sense that they believe it is inappropriate to celebrate Songkran with light hearts when it is such a dark time in Thailand.
I (Mike) had to travel to Bangkok earlier in the week to do some banking there. The protests were already in full swing, but had not yet turned violent. I was able to avoid the protests by using the skytrain, which went overhead. I wanted to do the banking this week because we sensed the protests were going to become very intense. We are staying in Chonburi and avoiding going to Bangkok at this time. Chonburi is very safe. We are very far away from any protests.
Please pray that the Thai people can have unity and work constructively to find ways to meet the needs of all people here.