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I feel safe in Thailand despite chaos

Western Cape

Bangkok - Iman Latief is a teacher from Cape Town who has been working in Bangkok for the past few months. Her report, featured here, suggests the place is calm despite the military takeover:

“I have been living in Bangkok for nearly two months and while that might not be very long, two things about the city have become clear to me.

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A woman with her mouth taped attends a protest against military rule in Bangkok May 24, 2014. Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was in a "safe place" on Saturday, an aide said, after being held by Thailand's army following its seizure of power this week, as opposition to the coup grew among her supporters and pro-democracy activists. The army moved on Thursday after failing to forge a compromise in a power struggle between Yingluck's populist government and the royalist establishment, which brought months of sometimes violent unrest to Bangkok's streets. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha (THAILAND - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Firstly, Bangkok is a 24-hour metropolis. From markets that are open day and night to cafés and street stalls that feed both drunken tourists and early morning commuters alike, Bangkok really comes alive at night.

During the day, the city is busy and chaotic and that doesn’t change when the sun goes down. You can feel the energy increase – the streets buzz with activity.

Secondly, despite its chaotic and lively energy, Bangkok is a peaceful place. The environment is friendly and happy and I have yet to meet a single person who has not been warm and kind.

It feels like the locals are orientated towards helping others. I have lost count of the number of people who have turned me in the right direction when I have been lost. No matter the time of day, Bangkok’s energy is vibrant and joyful.

Military law in Thailand began earlier this week and quickly turned into a fully fledged coup d’etat.

I was on my way to work at a small school in northern Bangkok when I started getting messages of concern from friends and family. Until then, I hadn’t noticed much change.

I live in Nonthaburi, far from the city centre, so I have been fortunate enough to be away from most of the protests and military action.

Things in my part of town have changed little since the military rule began. Although schools closed on Friday, I am sure my tiny, sweet students will be just as naughty come Monday.

However, there are army tanks and soldiers on roads in the city centre. There have been reports of cannon fire in a few areas and even problems at border crossings.

In such a situation, news spreads like wildfire. Social media groups have been buzzing with opinions, reported sightings and advice to avoid certain areas.

Despite the seemingly panicked reaction of tourists and alarming news reports, Bangkok’s streets are calm and relatively unchanged

Apart from minor protests, people seem happy to keep their heads down and obey the current rules.

The 10pm curfew is being enforced strictly throughout the city, with every store and restaurant closing with more than enough time to allow people to get home.

TV reports can make you assume the worst, but the thing that upsets most of the people is not being able to grab a bite at any time.”

Sunday Tribune

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