I arrive in Bangkok very late in the evening in the midst of one of the most serious crises Thailand has ever faced. It's early 2014 and protesters looking to overthrow the government have set up barriers at major intersections in the city, seriously disrupting travel and throwing the metropolis into chaos. By the time my driver approaches the area near Siam Square where my hotel is located, it is nearly 1:00 in the morning. And the road is blocked by protesters.
We do a U-turn and drive 10 minutes to avoid the demonstration and get a little closer to the hotel this time. But there is another blockade. Old tires are piled high in the street. Plastic tape has been used to construct makeshift fencing. A number of checkpoints have been set up by the protesters, and those in charge tell my driver he can't go any farther. He turns to look at me in the backseat. It's my move.
“Thanks,” I say, and I get out. As I lift my bag from the trunk, the driver apologizes. The protesters stand by watching. He did the best he could under the unusual circumstances, so I give him a nice tip.
I'll have to go the rest of the way on my own. I understand the hotel is several hundred meters away, but I can't see it. And it's after midnight in a city whose government has declared a state of emergency. The U.S. Department of State has issued a warning to Americans who are considering visiting.
But I'm not scared, and I begin to walk.
Leading up to my keynote speech at the Spark Conference, ...