Today I had some business to attend to in Bangkok, so rather than driving I took the minivan which goes to Victory Monument.

Victory Monument was the scene of some of the worst destruction at the end of the recent Red Shirt protests. The high level walkway passes Center One, a rather down-market shopping mall that I’ve never been tempted even to enter. Now I never will: the building has been reduced to a smoke-blackened concrete carcass, its floors deep with rubble and detritus. That was shocking enough.

I then took the skytrain that passed Siam Square, where the damage wasn’t so obvious, and a few shops have reopened. However, on foot I could see the interior of one of the cinemas there (Siam) had been totally destroyed, a dark mass of twisted metal. I couldn’t see into the two adjacent cinemas (Lido and Scala), but from press photos I knew that they were in a similar state. This cluster of old independent cinemas was a bit of a treasure, showing films that weren’t handled by the large chains. And now it’s gone forever.

What I saw at Central World, what used to be Asia’s second largest shopping mall was even more shocking:

Central World, Bangkok, destroyed

The mall is anchored by two department stores, Isetan (which appeared from the outside to be relatively undamaged) and Zen, which has been totally destroyed.

Zen department store, Bangkok, destroyed

It’s distressing enough to see such destruction; it must feel so much worse for many Thais.


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