Previously, I wrote about my close shave with death during #BangkokBlast when I was on a solo holiday in Thailand. This is a continuation of the night and the day after.
I was at the shopping mall when suddenly friends messaged me and asked “Are you OK?”. That’s when I realised a bomb had exploded near me. My buddy had warned that there might be more bombs in the area – and he was right. Immediately, I headed back to my hotel and reported to my family that I was safe.
— Richard Barrow in Thailand ???? (@RichardBarrow) August 17, 2015
The news reported that Singaporeans overseas in Bangkok should register their itinerary on the MFA website. So I went to check it out… and it’s under maintenance. hokay.
There were news and tweets requesting for urgent blood donors and Chinese translators to help the victims. It was heartwarming to hear that people were going forward to donate blood to help in whatever they could.
— Thaivisa.com News – The Nation (@NewsThaivisa) August 18, 2015
The next day when I ordered lunch, the staff asked me with a concerned look on her face: “Does it scare you? What happened last night?”
Since I had a few hours before my flight, I headed to Police General Hospital to see if they still needed any volunteers to help with Chinese translation. When I arrived, I realised it was just beside Erawan Shrine…
Quite busy at the hospital – didn’t really know who to approach. Everyone spoke in Thai.
I went over to the main counter where a volunteer was making announcements in Mandarin. They told me the need for translators was only urgent last night, and they have enough volunteers now, so I took my leave.
There were cleaners, police and media reporters with videographers along the road. The rest were other people were at the junction, where the tragedy struck, to see the aftermath and give some prayers. The Erawan shrine reopened its doors to the public barely two days after the fatal explosion.
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) August 19, 2015
I headed back to the hotel because I was told that airport security has tightened and queues would be longer, so I arrived earlier than intended for my flight at 5.35pm. On the way to the airport, a second bomb went off. This time at another tourist spot near Chao Phraya River. Thankfully there are no casualties because it landed in the river. If it had hit the ground, it would have been drastic. The police believe the perpetrator had wanted to throw the pipe bomb onto a busy pedestrian platform leading to the pier, but missed…
Everybody must be on high alert now. But no matter how prepared we can be, can we ever prevent such events from happening? It all happened so fast. Thai culture is Buddhist and values religious tolerance, so it was unlikely that the attack had a political agenda. The identified suspect ‘Mohamad Museyin’ had carefully planted the bomb at a small area, at a religious site with high human traffic during rush hour. 20 casualities and 125 injured.
“This operation was carried out by a big network. There must be a preparation for materials and explosives. There must be people who scout the route. There must be people who survey the site, people who would cover and look after the bomber. There must be people who know escape route and take the bomber to do it.” – Royal Thai Police Commissioner Gen. Somyot Poompanmoung
It was all so deliberate – some people would have guessed that the act was intended to harm the country’s tourism industry and economy. I have some friends who had earlier booked tickets and decided to forego their planned trip as they did not want to cause worry to their loved ones.
Just yesterday evening, another bomb was found and deactivated at a construction site around Sukhumvit. Even though it was not believed to be linked to the #BangkokBlast last week, it’s still scary to know that there are plots to terrorize civilians and hurt innocent lives.
— Richard Barrow in Thailand ???? (@RichardBarrow) August 24, 2015
It’s obvious that security in Bangkok is not as strict as Singapore’s – the authorities have taken it for granted that in a Buddhist country no one would cause harm to a religious, sacred site – but it happened. The Thai government is now putting measures to enhance security, but civilians still must remain vigilant no matter where we are. As my Krav Maga instructor would have put it, “Singapore is an ‘uncommonly safe’ country” – we may feel so safe here but we should always be aware of our surroundings and stay alert.
I am thankful to have escaped this tragedy because it could have happened to anyone. If I had decided to walk along the roadside instead, if I had been at the wrong spot at the wrong time, it could have been me. Every day is now an extra day in my life.
RIP to all the innocent victims and may their families find peace… #PrayForBKK #StrongerTogether