KO PHANGAN, THAILAND - The day after a state of emergency was declared in Bangkok, the fishing village of Sari-Tano on the island of Ko Phangan is full of life. The day after tomorrow is the Water Festival, and preparations are in full swing. Riots? Demonstrations? Rescue of international leaders with helicopters? No one has heard about that here.
The children are on vacation for the festival, the tourists move between beaches on scooters, and dozens of masseurs offer their services.
It may sound like a cliche, but it is not. It turns out that there are still places in the world where a national state of emergency cannot disrupt the routine. Islands tend to be this way; far from the continent and industrial centers, surrounded by water, isolated. Riots in Bangkok? It does not appear to be the islanders' main subject of discussion, and it certainly isn't for the visiting tourists.
A random survey of 10 people sitting on the beach outside my bungalow showed that more than two-thirds were more concerned about which milkshake to order than by the situation in Bangkok. A difficult second was what to order for lunch. With the exception of a German tourist, no one had heard of anything unusual happening in Thailand over the past 48 hours. I suppose that this is what happens when you stay out in the sun too long, have too many beers, and just try to be cut off from the world.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in Bangkok on Sunday, after red-shirted supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, regarded by most of the protesters as their leader, forced the cancellation of an Asian summit in the southern beach resort of Pattaya.
Thaksin fled the country last year, before a court convicted him in absentia of violating a conflict of interest law.
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