Monday, June 30, 2014

Ghosts!

Ghosts walking the streets of Dan Sai during Phi Ta Khon. "Phi" is Thai for ghost and "khon" means mask. So technically they're ghosts with masks

I went up to Dan Sai with Gavin Gough to photograph the annual Phi Ta Khon, or ghost festival. Like the Wat Bang Phra tattoo festival, it's one of the uniquely Thai celebrations of the supernatural. 

The Ghost Festival has its roots in Buddhism. According to the legend, Vessantara Jataka, a prince in one of the Buddha's past lives, was thought to have died during a long journey. When he returned from the journey alive, a party was thrown in his honor. It was so loud it woke the ghosts in the forest. To honor the spirit of Prince's return, locals dress as ghosts and come into town. 
A "ghost" strolls through Dan Sai

These are not Casper like ghosts though. No low profile simple white bedsheet with eyeholes. These are high profile ornate outfits with intricate masks that virtually scream, "Check me out!" The ghosts walk through town drinking the local rice wine and whiskey and poking people with large phallic sticks. 
A Phi Ta Khon mask

The crowd favorites are probably the mud men. A group of men, fueled up on rice whiskey, cover themselves in mud from the Mun River (which runs through Dan Sai) and shuffle through town. The mud men channel the town's guardian spirit, Phra U-pakut, who lives in the river.

Mud men shuffle through Dan Sai

If ghosts aren't your thing there's still plenty to do at the festival. It has become big business. There are stages with entertainment and cultural shows and a market of local crafts and artisan products. And of course there's food. Lots and lots of food, most of it fiery Isan style food. 
One of the cultural shows at the Phi Ta Khon

The second day of the festival ends with a rocket launching party. People gather near a bamboo scaffolding in the temple cemetery and watch as folks launch large (6 - 10 feet long) rockets into the sky. The rocket launches are a Thai Isan tradition to ensure a good rainy season. 
Lift off! A homemade rocket blasts into the sky.

The festival is officially three days but the first two days are the best for visitors. That's when the ghosts and other colorful characters come into town for a raucous good time. The last day is reserved for merit making at the local temple and is much more low key. 
Ghosts sit on the porch of the local temple towards the end of the ghostly part of the festival

There are more photos of the Phi Ta Khon in my archive or available from ZUMA Press

Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Knowing the Rules

A portrait of a tuk-tuk driver in the Bangkok flower market. The pose, the light, the direct look into the camera all serve to tell the reader that this is a portrait.

Thomas Edison is reported to have said, "Hell, there are no rules here, we're trying to accomplish something," when a lab assistant asked him about rules in the lab. There are a lot of rules in photojournalism - we don't set up or fake photos, we don't use software (or, in the old days, the enlarger) to change the truth of what we're photographing. Our captions, like our photos, have to be truthful.

But understanding the rules, and how to work within them, is the mark of an experienced photojournalist.

The cardinal rule, for example, is that we don't set up or fake a photo. But sometimes when we're working for a newspaper or a magazine we get sent to assignments where there is no photo to be made.

For example, we might get assigned to photograph a citizen who saved a baby from a burning building. The baby is in the hospital and the fire was three days ago but it's still your job to come back with a picture.

Under these circumstances it's appropriate to make a portrait of the citizen, at the scene of the fire if possible, in some other setting if not.

The difference between setting up a fake photo and making a portrait of the citizen hero is intent. To pose the citizen in front of a burning building, running to the camera holding aloft the saved infant would be to mislead the reader into believing the photo is "real."

A portrait, with the citizen hero in front of the building, lit with strobes created in such a way that the photo is clearly not a found moment is still truthful and accomplishes your assignment of making a photo of the hero citizen.

W. Eugene Smith was one of the pioneers of photojournalism. He produced an amazing body of work throughout his career that inspired thousands of photographers (including me). His essay on the Spanish village of Deleitosa is just one of his standouts. He also regularly violated basic tenets of photojournalism. I doubt that he would be employable in today's world.

Around 1956 (the exact date is unknown), Philippe Halsmann, the great portrait and fashion photographer, interviewed Smith. Their rambling conversation visited many of the milestones in Smith's career including a discussion of staging photos.

Halsman asked Smith, "Why do you break this basic rule of candid photography?" (In reference to staging photos.)

Smith replied, "I didn’t write the rules — why should I follow them? Since I put a great deal of time and research to know what I am about? I ask and arrange if I feel it is legitimate. The honesty lies in my — the photographer’s — ability to understand."

Today staging documentary photos is strictly prohibited. Most news organizations have a written policy against it. But that was then and this is now.

Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Where in the world?

The main map window in Lightroom. Dragging a photo from the filmstrip at the bottom onto the map will embed the location data. In this case it’s reporting that I have 72 photos in my catalog made at the traffic circle in Poipet, Cambodia.

Lightroom has a mapping component built into it that can make it easy to figure out where you were when you made that once in a lifetime photo.

There are a couple of way to embed the data. The easiest and most reliable way to do it is to use a camera that has built in GPS, like the Canon 6D. If you turn on the GPS function (consult the camera manual for specifics) the camera will log your location as you photograph and embed your GPS data in the metadata.

When you import the photos into your Lightroom catalog, they will automatically show up on the map.

(Cameras that record GPS data are not available in all markets, depending on local laws. If you’re buying a camera in a place that prohibits the GPS function, that function will be disabled and you won’t be able to access it. This is why there are two models of the Canon 6D, one with GPS and wifi enabled and one without.)

If you don’t have a 6D, or one of the other cameras that embeds GPS data, you have to work a little harder to get the location data into your file.

In my case, I use an iPhone and the camera in my iPhone to tell me where I am. I usually have location services turned on. When I’m photographing in a new place, or a place where I’m not sure of where I am, I take a couple of pictures with my iPhone. I import the “real” pictures (those made with my 5D Mark III) into my LR catalog then I import the photos from my iPhone into the same folder in my LR catalog. I keep the clocks in my cameras and iPhone in synch, so if I have a picture made at 6:20AM with my iPhone, and pictures made at 6:19AM and 6:21AM made with my Canons, it’s a safe bet that the pictures were made at the same location. I then copy the location data from my iPhone over to the pictures made with my Canons.

Finally, if you don’t have an iPhone or GPS enabled camera but you do know where you were when you made a picture, you can embed the location manually.

Click on the Map module in Lightroom. This will take you into the map mode. Turn on the “Filmstrip” view at the bottom of the LR screen. Back in the map, zoom into the specific location where your photo was made. How far into the map you have to zoom depends on how specific you want to be. If all you care about is the city and province, you can work at low magnifications. If the actual GPS coordinates or specific street address are important you should zoom in until you can see your specific location. Select the photos in the filmstrip view and drop them onto your location on the map. Lightroom will fill in the location data in your IPTC, including the GPS coordinates.

That’s how I got the location data into the pictures at the top of this post. I didn’t actually make 72 pictures at the traffic circle. I made them in the vicinity of the traffic circle, all within a hundred meters of the circle, but dropping them on the traffic circle was close enough for my needs (which was just the town and province in Cambodia where I made the photos).

It’s easy to tell at a glance if your photos have location data embedded in them.
The icons in the bottom of the LR thumbnail tell you a lot about the photo.

When you’re in the grid view in Lightroom you’ll see a series of icons in the bottom right corner of the photo (circled in red in the photo above). The icons mean (left to right): keyworded (the tag), location data embedded (the pushpin), cropped (the rectangle) and developed (the +/- on the far right).

Lightroom makes it easy to remember where you were when you made your photos. Don’t be afraid to go into the Map module and do some exploring.

Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Not a Club You Want To Be In

Cambodian construction workers relax on a pile of water mains on a job site in central Bangkok

It's been a rough couple of months for Thailand. 

Violence inspired by the anti-government protests grabbed headlines and sullied the reputation of the "Land of Smiles." 

Then the army staged a coup. 

The final straw was Thailand's being demoted to Tier 3 status on the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) for allowing human trafficking, slavery and gross human rights abuses of immigrants. Tier 3 status is reserved for the worst offenders - Zimbabwe, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan are some of the other Tier 3 countries. (Neighboring Malaysia's status was also downgraded from Tier 2 - Watchlist to the Tier 3. Like Thailand's downgrade, Malaysia's was automatic based on four years on the Watchlist.)

Thai officials are outraged at being on the Tier 3 list. At a press conference Saturday morning, Mr. Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, said Thailand did not belong on Tier 3 status. He pointed out that Thailand has prosecuted nearly 400 people in the last year for human trafficking and secured more than 200 convictions. He added that, "Tier 3 is for countries doing nothing. We have made an earnest effort. I would ask the US to go back and reconsider." 

Immigration in Thailand, like the United States, is complicated. 

Just as the American economy largely relies on an unseen immigrant army to fuel its growth, so does the Thai economy rely on low paid immigrant labor. While undocumented immigrants in the US tend to come from Latin America, undocumented immigrants in Thailand tend to come from neighboring Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos. 

Immigrants work the construction sites that dominate the Bangkok skyline. They crew the fishing boats that sail the region's waters. Migrant farm workers tend the fields that feed the world. 

Working class Thais complain that the immigrants bring crime and disease and take their jobs, just like working class Americans complain about immigrants from Latin America. Employers in Thailand, like employers in the US, say they hire immigrants because they can't find Thais (in Thailand) or Americans (in the US) to take the jobs they have.

I've had more than one Thai employer tell me they couldn't find Thais willing to work in the fields or crew the ships or scramble across the scaffolding. One said "Thais just want to work in air conditioned malls in Bangkok." Close your eyes and it's easy to imagine you're talking to an American farm manager talk about hiring field hands or factory owner talking about hiring line workers. 
Burmese crew on a Thai fishing trawler in port in Samut Sakhon. 

Thailand's immigration woes grabbed the headlines two weeks ago, before the TIP report was released, when the UK newspaper the Guardian published a scathing report on slavery in the Thai fishing industry. Reports of slavery in the Thai fishing industry are not new, but the Guardian piece alleged that slavery was systemic and wide spread and connected large US and European retailers like Wal-Mart, Tesco, Carrefour and Costco to the slave trade through the shrimp they sold. (I encourage you to follow the link and read the Guardian piece.) 

Last week, the immigration issue in Thailand blew up again when nearly 200,000 Cambodian immigrants fled Thailand, en masse, and returned to Cambodia. It was a mass migration not seen in Southeast Asia since the dark days on the Killing Fields. 
Cambodians get off a bus from Thailand after fleeing a feared crackdown

The exodus went on for nearly a week. 

By some counts more than half of all Cambodians living in Thailand have left. There are two construction sites on our street in Bangkok that have been quiet since the Cambodian exodus. Construction trade groups in Thailand are saying they can't find workers to replace the Cambodians and their sites are idle. The Thai junta has promised to help match workers up with vacancies but it takes time to get the system up and running. (Interestingly, Gen Prayuth-Chanocha, commander of the junta and effectively Thailand's head of government, wrote a dissertation in 2008 that identified migrant workers and undocumented persons as one of four urgent and immediate threats to Thai society.) 

I've been photographing immigration related stories in Thailand since 2009. I was drawn to the issue because of the similarity between immigration here and in the US. Here in Thailand and in the US immigration is an issue that won't go away - there are a lot more similarities than there are differences. 
Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

You Can Go Home Again

A Cambodian woman hands her child to a soldier while they get out of the truck that brought them back to Cambodia from Thailand

There's a mass migration going on in Aranyaprathet, a Thai town on the border with Cambodia. Hundreds of thousands of Cambodian migrant workers, many without immigration papers or work permits, are fleeing Thailand and going back to Cambodia. 

Poipet, the town on the Cambodian side of the border, is inundated with returning migrants. The traffic roundabout in "downtown" Poipet (a tiny town of about 60,000 people) has been turned into a welcome center. Buses and trucks full of Cambodian migrants arrive in town and volunteers direct them to military trucks that take them back to their home villages. 
Cambodian women in a Thai police truck look at the cage in the back of the truck as they arrive in Poipet

The exodus started last week, and its cause is a mystery. Cambodians, apparently fearing a crackdown by the junta that unseated the elected government, started going home. What started as a trickle became a flood and by Monday more than 120,000 Cambodians had fled Thailand. On Monday another 40,000 crossed the border back to Cambodia. By most estimates there about 200,000 Cambodian migrants in Thailand. If this continues, soon there will be no Cambodians left in Thailand. 
Migrants rest in the back of a Cambodian army truck while they wait to be taken back to their home village

I went to Aranyaprathet and Poipet Monday. 

Poipet was a beehive of activity. Hundreds of Cambodian military trucks were parked throughout downtown. NGOs Samaritan's Purse and World Vision setup a welcome center with health screenings, food and water. Local volunteers came to town to help in whatever way they could while the Cambodian military provided transportation. Buses and trucks, packed to overflowing, crossed the border, came into town and unloaded migrants who grabbed some food, were directed to waiting trucks and then, as the trucks filled, were on their way home. It was as smooth as a forced relocation could be. 

Back in Aranyaprathet, on the Thai side, migrants came in by bus and train. When the train from Bangkok arrived, it was packed, every seat taken, no space left in the aisles. When the train stopped in the Aranyaprathet station, people tossed their belongings out the window and then jumped out of the windows. Unarmed Thai soldiers and police surrounded the train and prevented the migrants from disappearing into town. 
A young woman perched in a window gets ready to jump out of the train

Police guided the migrants to the front of the station and told them to sit in the street. They closed the roads between the station and police station (about a kilometer) and marched the Cambodians to an events building across the street from the police station. 

Police provided a meal (and ice cream) at the events center than processed the migrants at the police station before putting them into trucks and taking them back to Cambodia. 
Migrants wait in front of the train station before walking down to the police station for their eventual repatriation to Cambodia

The real mystery in the exodus is why? Who started the rumors that authorities were going to crack down on migrants? And what do they have to gain? 

I talked to Cambodians in both Poipet and Aranyaprathet. None of them told me they had directly been threatened by Thai authorities. Their stories were consistent: they left because their friends, neighbors or family members had left. One said he left because his boss told him to leave, that the army might be coming. 

I talked to the police commander in Aranyaprathet and he told me his officers were not rounding up migrants and that the police operation was more focused on providing help than making arrests. 

The migrants weren't really under arrest but they certainly weren't free to go. Police and soldiers met the train. They stopped migrants who tried to leave the train station from doing so and took them all into town and provided a hot meal before putting them on trucks and sending them back to Cambodia. 

The use of trucks to haul people in this part of the world is not at all unusual. Construction companies haul their workers to and from job sites in the dump trucks they use to haul sand and gravel during the shift. The cheapest local buses are trucks some with seats, some without, so it's not fair to make a judgement about the use of trucks for hauling people around. 
A woman carries her son through the train station in Aranyaprathet

And the situation with migrant laborers is extremely complicated. Thailand has the most diverse economy and best infrastructure in the region. Migrant workers, most undocumented, come to Thailand from neighboring Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. They work here and send money home. 

Working class Thais resent the foreign workers, who they say take jobs and bring crime and disease. Thai employers say they have no choice but to hire the foreign workers because Thais won't do the work. Employers argue that Thais want to work in air conditioned offices and malls in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. 

Discussions about undocumented workers in Thailand are just like the discussions we have in the US about undocumented workers. 

This exodus of workers has reached a critical phase. Soon there will not be many Cambodians left in Thailand. That means no one to work in the construction industry or farm fields; as maids or gardeners. Already a construction industry trade group is calling for the return of the workers. 

There are more photos of the exodus in my archive or available from ZUMA Press
Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Restoring Happiness the Thai Way

A dancer performs at a "Happiness for Thais" party in Lumpini Park Sunday

Since the coup the junta has been on a tear to restore happiness to the Thai people. It sounds silly, but the country has been riven by the recent political impasse. The situation had come close to open civil war between Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts (and the organizations the Yellows have morphed into). Shootings and grenade attacks were commonplace and both sides used vitriol against the other. 

There was a real need for a nationwide time-out and General Prayuth, while suspending free speech and rounding up opponents of the coup, has also tried to provide the time-out.

The junta has organized a series of events straight out of the "Winning Hearts and Minds" (WHAM) manual. Free food, entertainment, health checks, haircuts all provided by the army or army approved organizations. Sunday there was a "restore happiness" party in Lumpini Park, the site of large protests against the elected government before the coup. 
A Thai bagpipe band, complete with kilts, marches through Lumpini Park

A couple of thousand people showed up for the afternoon's entertainment. They partook of the food and scored free tee shirts, posed for "selfies" with soldiers (which has turned into a very popular past time in Thailand post coup) and generally had a good time. 
"Selfies" with the Royal Thai Police mounted unit

There are more photos of the Happiness party in my archive or available from ZUMA Press
Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Dawn in the Delta

Sunrise in the Ayeyarwady Delta.

We drove out to Pathein in the Ayeyarwady Delta, southwest of Yangon, during our week in Myanmar. The Delta is the rice bowl of Myanmar. From the time you leave Yangon until you reach the Pathein river front you drive through a seemingly limitless vista of rice fields broken up only by occasional corn fields. 

This is agriculture the way it's been practiced for a millennia or more. The fields are plowed by teams of oxen or water buffalo. Weeding is done by hand, by workers with hoes. 
Workers break ground in a tiny paddy. 

The rainy season is just starting, in a month this will all be rice and underwater

I did the same drive last year when I was in Myanmar. Last year I made the trip a little later in June and the rainy season had come a little earlier. There was more activity in the fields last year - this year it felt like people were just getting started. 

The other thing that struck me was how quickly change is coming to the Delta. There are gas stations and restaurants being built along the highway the whole way down to Pathein. 
People on a motorcycle pass a natural gas exploration well

We also passed a natural gas exploration well. A local person told us the well was owned by Chinese interests and that other exploration wells were planned in the area. 

There are more photos of the Delta in my archive and available from ZUMA Press.
Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Nod and a Smile

I photographed this young man while I was leaning out of the door on the train as we rolled through the Burmese countryside.

When I’m photographing on the street I sometimes ask permission to photograph and sometimes don’t depending on the scene I’m working.

In the photo above for example, I was riding the Yangon Circular Train and I saw the man looking out the window. I leaned out the door of the rail car and made a couple of frames of him while the train chugged down the tracks. After the first couple of pictures, while I was still leaning out the door, I put my camera down and thanked him. Then I brought the camera back up to photograph some more and he smiled and nodded okay.
Moments later, after brief eye contact and a little nod (because I don't speak Burmese and it was too noisy to talk even if I did), a much nicer photo. 

That’s when I made this photo. He knew I was there (he also knew I was there in the first photo) but the few seconds I took to engage him made all the difference. I prefer the latter photo. I like his smile and body English. To me, the second photo feels more natural and less confrontational.

Sometimes it’s more disruptive to ask permission before photographing, this is especially true when it’s a moment, like the photo below.
A man prays at Botataung Pagoda in Yangon.

I was at Botataung Pagoda in Yangon. I was watching people make offerings and praying at a small chapel in the pagoda. People would make offerings of fruit, say a prayer then touch their foreheads to the statue’s finger. I slipped into position during a break in the line of people praying. I waited for prayers to resume and made this picture when this man came up to the statue to pray.

In a similar situation at Shwedagon Pagoda I asked a couple of monks if it would be okay to photograph them.
Monks at Shwedagon Pagoda. I don't speak Burmese, so I couldn't ask them outright if I could photograph them. I showed them my camera and they nodded yes.

I saw the monks sitting together in front of the Buddha statue. I walked up to them, showed them my camera and asked if I could photograph them. They nodded yes, I made five or six frames and then showed them the photos (using the LCD on the back of my camera).

The hardest part of photographing strangers is just doing it. I don’t have a hard and fast rule about when I will or will not ask permission before making a photo. In general, if asking permission is more disruptive than not asking permission, I won’t ask first I’ll simply photograph. Even then though, I almost always try to preposition myself in a way that I can work without being disruptive and so people know I’m there. In the photo from Botataung, I was standing about a meter from the statue. I got into position at the statue before people started praying and I didn’t leave until after people finished. People knew I was there photographing and I tried to be as discrete as I could under the circumstances.

Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Yangon's Heritage

The Strand Hotel in Yangon is one of the city's architectural gems. It opened in 1901. 

Yangon used to be known as Rangoon. Before World War II, when Burma (now Myanmar) was a British colony, the city rivaled Singapore as a commercial center. The city streets were lined with stately colonial buildings.

Myanmar was politically and economically isolated for much of its post independence history, ruled by a series of autocratic, xenophobic military dictators. There was little economic development in the country and the stately old buildings faded into obscurity.  

But without too much effort it's still easy to see that a lot of what was colonial Rangoon still exists in modern Yangon. 
A man walks by U Naw Memorial Baptist Church, one of Yangon's historic Christian churches. 

Some of the colonial gems are easy to find, like the Strand Hotel, the old (and still current) Customs House or the Myanmar Port Authority, all restored or nearly restored, to their original grandeur. The city has the finest collection of colonial architecture in Southeast Asia. 
The Myanmar Port Authority building, originally built in 1920.

Less obvious are the smaller gems. Walk the streets of Yangon and it's easy to see buildings that one time must have been grand structures but now, like aging movie starlets, are down on their luck, facing an uncertain future. 
One of Yangon's nameless grande dames, this one opened in 1924, is now a banana stand on the ground floor and tenements above.

Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Flash Mob

A woman holds up the three fingered salute from the "Hunger Games" during a flash mob protest against the junta at Terminal 21, a shopping mall in Bangkok. 

The Thai army is trying to be proactive in controlling the protests against the coup. Last week, after days of protests in Victory Monument, the army struck back by shutting down the area and denying protestors a venue. The result was a traffic jam that was epic even by Bangkok standards. But no protest took place so it's a win. 

There was supposed to be a protest Sunday, June 1, at the McDonald's in Ratchaprasong. It was widely advertised on social media and talked about for days in the traditional media. 

The army was very proactive. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the official name for the ruling junta, announced that Ratchaprasong, one of the busiest shopping districts in Bangkok, would be shut down on Sunday. The BTS Skytrains wouldn't stop in Ratchaprasong stations, roads leading into the area would be closed, the malls would be closed and there would be a zero tolerance policy towards protestors. 
Thai soldiers deploy near Gaysorn, a very upscale mall in Ratchaprasong. 

Predictably, no protestors showed up.

Instead, organized by SMS, tweets and messages on Facebook, several hundred posters went to Terminal 21, in the Asok intersection. They hung around in small groups until about noon when they started chanting "Election!" and "Freedom!" and displaying signs against the coup. Then they started using the three fingered salute from the Hunger Games series. According to the Associated Press,  the salute symbolizes rebellion against totalitarian rule.
People stand in front of Terminal 21 displaying the salute from the Hunger Games. 

After some chanting and saluting the crowd started to break up. That was when the police came. A single officer in uniform and a couple of plainclothes officers tried to arrest a single protestor. They chased him into the mall and other protestors closed ranks to protect the wanted man. The police started chasing protestors through the packed mall with media in tow while shoppers looked on. It was bedlam. 

After a few minutes the police gave up and left the mall. Soldiers and armed humvees arrived. They tried to surround the mall (a difficult task since tour busses were still dropping off tour groups and the Skytrain was still bringing shoppers into the mall) and eventually ordered it closed. This brought more people out to the street. The chanting and saluting started again. A few people left the mall, ran across Sukhumvit Road and chased away some of the army officers.
A Thai woman, helped by her friends, protests the loss of free speech during the anti-coup flash mob at Terminal 21.

There weren't very many protestors at Terminal 21. Probably fewer than 200, but it was packed with shoppers. Protestors were nearly as successful at tying up traffic in central Bangkok as Shutdown Bangkok was. Thanks to the army's proactive strategy, Thursday and Friday protestors brought traffic to a standstill around Victory Monument without raising a single hand or voice. 

Sunday they shut down Ratchaprasong early without risking confrontation and then showed up unexpectedly at Terminal 21 where just a few protestors caused as much confusion as Suthep's masses did in January. 
A protestor covers her mouth and pretends to have a gun pointed at her head to illustrate the loss of free speech since the coup.

The protestors seem to be taking on a strategy of playing cat and mouse with the army. Announce a protest in one place, wait for the army to prestage there and then go to another place. There are no public leaders, so there's no one the army can arrest. There's no head to chop off (metaphorically speaking) and the army can't control social media (social media companies have so far refused to meet with NCPO). These are flash mobs and short of shutting down the internet in Thailand the army is going to have a very hard time controlling them. 

There are more photos of Sunday's protest in my archive or available from ZUMA Press.
Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts.