It was on my birthday I walked through a police barricade within a few feet of Thailand’s prime minister.
It was the middle of the afternoon during songkran, Thailand’s New Year celebration in Chiang Mai. The hot streets were filled with Thais and tourists shooting and throwing water at each other. We only wanted to walk to the dessert place to get some cake. It wasn’t going to be easy. When discussing where to eat, my friend Erin would suggest a place and my reply would be something like, “That’s a high-risk area – lots of drunken farangs shooting water. There’s no way we’ll get down that street without getting shot.” It was as if we were vacationing in Baghdad.
Erin and I as well as four other friends walked through the large crowd and approached the street. I noticed dozens of photographers and cameramen as we neared the excitement, but I figured they were simply covering the parade. Erin and I lost track of our friend before finding him on the street between the police barricade and the truck they were protecting. We followed because standing next to police officers seemed to be the safest and driest place to be. I may have said “excuse me” in Thai, I may not have, but I walked right through the police and next to the truck bed that Yingluck Shinawatra, the prime minister of Thailand, was being escorted in. Another friend of ours said an officer gently pushed him to the side as he walked through the barricade, but no one so much as felt the touch of an officer’s finger.
It wasn’t until we reached Love at First Bite and were enjoying our chocolate volcano and brownie cheesecake did we find out she was the reason for the extra “security”.
If I’d accidentally gotten that close to President Obama (I wouldn’t be able to), I’d probably spend the day being questioned by the secret service with a broken arm. In Thailand, it’s all good.