"Mai torng chong, Gue mar eng" means "You don't have to pay me, I came by myself" and is the slogan on the red t-shirts (cost: 120 baht).
Tesco-branded water and cabbage with boiled rice was being handed out free of charge at the Red Demonstration outside Central World Mall. Fried insects cost extra.
Before matters got hairy on Saturday evening, it was safe to walk 10 minutes from this correspondent's condo to the red venue (although by the end of the evening and after plenty of Lao Khao moonshine, the rowdier element were starting to lark around).
Tactically, the red shirts have been more disciplined this year, in contrast to the Songkran (Thai new year) riots of 2009. They are organised and moving in a choreographed way around the city. On Friday, a cavalcade of motorbikes headed north to Pathum Thani to temporarily liberate a television station. After dark, they returned to their central base ready for new missions.
Their television station is no worse in propaganda terms than the ones that specifically support the government, but a bit Goebbels-like nonetheless. It was doing a good job of marshalling its resources: "Red shirts come out now and go to X destination", was typically posted at the foot of the screen.
By the end of the week, the mood was becoming xenophobic and particularly anti-English, given Abhisit Vejjajiva is an Oxford University alumnus and Thaksin Shinawatra's UK visa has been pulled. And by Sunday, accredited reporters were being refused access to red sites, because they declined to depict the corpses that had been dragged on stage.
The reds have intimated that, if attacked at their Rajaprasong site, they may storm the shopping malls (and possibly torch them), and their chants are along the lines of "Louis Vuitton, Versace, we know where you are".
Now that the Songkran holidays are upon us, the reds are being asked to stay on site and celebrate the water-festival at their existing venues. They may just prefer to go home, though, because it is as hot as hell out there, and one has to be impressed by their stamina. The fact that the shops are now closed is less of a concern to big business, because they would be shut in any event during Songkran. (Not to downplay the 21 deaths last weekend, but between 700-1000 people are usually killed during Thai Songkran weekend, as buckets of water are thrown over their speeding motorbikes.)
So the reds are stoically staying put, and they will be hard to dislodge. The paradox is how unpopular Abhisit has become externally, when for years, the international media saw him as Thailand's last hope of political modernisation. Yet he has never won a general election, and only got his job by disqualifications of various manifestations of a party that has won every general election for the last decade.
The Thai electorate doesn't seem to mind that Thaksin feathered his own corporate bed (before the sale of Shin Corp), as long as he gave them something as well. Abhisit's tenure has been short of populist measures by which the Democrats could have captured some votes. He really did have his chance to build an up-country constituency, but hasn't done much on that front.
And don't expect the yellow shirts of PAD to come and help Abhisit. They felt snubbed after he became prime minister and didn't show them gratitude.
By the way, the airport is out of bounds in this giant chess game. Airport occupation worked brilliantly for the PAD, but today's demonstrators are not allowed to go there. Troops are garrisoned at the periphery. If the demonstrators head to the airport, the rules of the chess game are broken.
In a general election, the Pheua Thai party would be likely to win (and so some other way would have to be found to disqualify them, as there is no way a Thaksin proxy is going to be allowed to govern for long).
Being Thai PM was always going to be an important line on Abhisit's CV. Now he has done it, the last thing he wants is to be tarnished with is his own personal Tiananmen Square. He is still a young man, and if he wants to take his gift for exercising restraint to running the International Monetary Fund, United Nations or, better still, Goldman Sachs (where 'exercising restraint' means depriving London partners of bonuses exceeding £1 million), he might decide that discretion is the better part of valour.
Post Script: Monday evening. 20:30.
The Thai Election commission has voted to disband the Democrat party. It appears to be game over for the Thai Prime Minister.