Bangkok has just become the world's No.1 tourist destination, and it couldn't have come at a worse time - not because the capital and the country haven't earned the accolade, and not because it isn't a fun place to visit, but because Thai society is brimming with contradictions that could break into conflict at any time.
A protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask marches on a main road during an anti-Thaksin demonstration at a shopping centre last month. Despite relative calm under a strong government, Thai politics remains volatile. EPA/NARONG SANGNAK
To the background drumbeat of militant political trends, there are endless attractions and distractions and myriad shimmering sights to see. The food is delicious, the music swings, service is supreme and there are serene temples, street snacks and tempting nightlife. Even the egotistical strutting of local politicos, and the consumerist tail-dancing of hi-so snobs can be viewed as background colour for sojourners soaking up the sun and fun and non-stop folly in the kaleidoscopic tropical wonderland.
This article is older than 60 days, which we reserve for our premium members only.You can subscribe to our premium member subscription, here.