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A city of romance

By Matt Hodges ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-03-16 08:11:43

 A city of romance

Valentine's Day dinner at Salathip is as romantic an experience as one could ask for. The teak pavilion looks like a small wooden palace set in a tropical garden. Provided to China Daily

Cupid has plenty of room to maneuver in the Thai capital amid the de-escalating protests, despite the simmering threat of violence in select pockets of the city, especially if you choose the right resort in one of Asia's most exciting destinations, writes Matt Hodges.

A city of romance 

Buy, buy in Bangkok 
 A city of romance
Honeymoon in heaven  
I arrived in Bangkok before Valentine's Day for a romantic getaway and ended up heading from the airport into the heart of an anti-government protest site. That had not been part of the original plan. The fearless metro staff had directed me to Silom Road without batting an eyelid. As this was one of several rallying sites in the city - some were in the process of being dismantled - it says something about how dangerous they considered the situation to be.

I could have taken a taxi to my hotel, but the train from Suvarnabhumi Airport connects smoothly to the MRT (mass rapid transit system) and stands as a cheap and easy alternative.

I expected to find a capital under siege, in lockdown, with panic in the streets. But instead of ricocheting bullets and stun grenades, I was greeted by a sprawling outdoor market and carnival-like atmosphere.

Even the police were in good humor, with little to do except direct traffic. In fact, if the protests continue, the biggest threat to your trip is likely to be greater congestion in areas like Lumpini, Asok-Sukhumvit and Ratchaprasong. Motorbike taxis afford a thrilling way to circumnavigate this problem, at your own risk.

Locals told me that the day market in Silom had blossomed into its current state after the city's residents stepped up their campaign several months ago against what they view as the puppet government of caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the younger sister of the country's deposed leader Thaksin.

But despite periodic outbursts of violence in pockets of the capital, the rallying sites are still considered peaceful enough by locals to rank as trendy hang-out spots at the weekend or on public holidays. Cheap protest T-shirts ($10) by one famous Thai designer have even become the must-have accessory of Bangkok's middle class.

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