On August 17th, 2015, terrorists targetted a major shrine (Erawan) in central Bangkok, Thailand directly outside the Grand Hyatt Erawan.
According to the Bangkok Post, there have been explosions near the Hindu shrine, Erawan in central Bangkok. The Grand Hyatt Erawan hotel and a small mall share the corner where the shrine is located.
Image Credit: Bangkok Post (Krit Promsaka na Sakolnakorn)
At first glance, the explosions appear to be relatively small in nature though several fatalities have been reported. I have reached out to contacts I have there to ensure there was no damage to the hotel and that their staff members and guests are ok.
While I still have not written the trip report from my time there (I am seriously delinquent on publishing it) the property is beautiful, the staff was amazing and it is disheartening to see this political action strike a religious site.
Erawan Shrine & Surrounding Vendors (Kyle Stewart, September 2014)
Tensions in Thailand have been high for a significant period of time as the military took over for the deposed preseident, Yingluck Shinawatra. That being said, the military has done a good job of keeping the peace and running the country as normal. In fact we were there in December and January and had a great experience with no issues caused by military rule – it was business as usual.
Reports have stated there were (updated: 20) killed, and (updated: 124) injured; most of the injuries were foreigners. When I think about it, we could have easily been one of those injuries or deaths as I have now stayed there three times in the last year. That being said, I would not hesitate to go back to Thailand for a visit or even to live there again. Thailand is a beautiful country and it is really where my heart is. If you have not been, do not let this effect your decision to go. Just as Charlie Hebdo probably didn’t influence you to avoid Paris, do not avoid Bangkok – you will be missing out.
On a personal level, the management team at this property are lovely people who genuinely care about what they do and the guests they serve. While we were at the property in January, my family had a chance to visit with Beau, their communications director. She shared a meal with us and introduced us to Thai foods we had not tried even after living there for a significant amount of time. At the end of our meal, she took us to the Erawan shrine, explained what people were doing and participated with them.
Lunch with Beau (Kyle Stewart, January 2015)
Beau escaping a photo (Kyle Stewart, January 2015)
Having been inside the shrine, it’s terribly sad and disappointing that the group that performed this act targeted a civilian site that inflicted casualties.
Erawan Shrine Dancer (Kyle Stewart, January 2015)
I am sure there is more to the story and more information will be released in the days to come. But for right now, my thoughts are with those who were at the shrine and lost their lives, those injured nearby and the entire team at the Grand Hyatt Erawan including Beau, Adam Zilber, and Chok. (UPDATE: Mr. Zilber has communicated that he, his staff, his guests and his property are all safe, secure and unharmed. I will provide more information about our communications shortly.)