The imminent shutdown of one of the worlds largest cities was already felt in the past week, with less traffic than usual on the streets. I could basically walk across my usual Soi (small street) which is usually packed with traffic. While people where still returning from the holiday season it felt much more empty than usual. My hotel was only filled about 50% and from friends who work in the hotel industry I heard that they have only been occupied between 30 - 70%. Remember this is the high season!! The rattle effect will be enormous! The hotel staff is often paid by occupation rates and a lot of those employees are politically on the other side than the protesters are, so the money they earn normally goes right back the families in the provinces.
A number of friends already complained that they had no income, jobs they applied for were not filled anymore and some of them were already packing up to go back home because there was no money to be made in Bangkok now.
I went to the big last protest day before Christmas and New Year, carefully evaluating if it was safe to be that close to the protest sites. But I did get closer and saw that it was basically all nice and friendly people. They all smiled and waved their Thai flags and invited me to take photos of them. By the end of the protest day, I had more than 600 shots and video clips taken and visited 4 protest sites - Lumpini Park, Central World stage, Asoke Intersection and Silom Intersection.
Not taking any sides here, but it was rather impressive! And it was peaceful because there was absolutely no police in sight and no anti-anti-protesters! That will chance now with the protest leaders threatening to shut down the city for good. First clashes have already been reported as far away as Chiang Mai and Ratchaburi, so it is just a matter of time until this gets bloody again. And I have no intentions to be in Bangkok then and for the near future. So, I got out in time and Bangkok will not be on my travel plans for the foreseeable future.