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Thais, tourists give their views of post-coup world

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(CNN) -- On the streets of Bangkok, Thailand, well-wishers gathered around army tanks and draped them with garlands a day after a military commander took control of the country in a quick, bloodless coup.

But supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra faced off with rival groups celebrating the coup at two separate gatherings in Bangkok. Soldiers intervened, narrowly averting clashes.

We asked readers and CNN viewers, especially those in Thailand, to give us their take on what's going on. Their e-mails are not a scientific opinion poll, but they do paint a picture of how some individuals experienced the coup. (Watch how some tourists didn't know there was a coup -- 1:34)

Manik Sethisuwan, who described himself as "a normal citizen," said as the coup was unfolding, he was on his way home in Bangkok from the veterinarian's office with his dogs. He stopped to see what was going on, then ran out of gas, so he spent several hours on the street observing.

"What I noticed very clearly along with other tourists, locals as well as amazed media personnel, was that unexpected sense of calmness and safety we felt throughout the coup process so far," Sethisuwan wrote. "We saw people offering flowers to the troops, locals posing for pictures almost as if the tanks were parked in a museum."

"We even saw one local truck driver grumbling at the troops because his vehicle could not pass under the barrel of their tank's cannon which was pointed diagonally across the road, forcing its commander to move it away from the road," he added.

But Paul Clark, who said he's a British citizen living in Thailand, wrote that the picture is not quite so rosy.

"There is no opposition to the military leaders for a few reasons," he wrote. "They are very intimidating in their uniforms, with tanks etc. at grass-root levels, and supporters of Thaksin or anyone else are scared."

"The military leaders are controlling local TV stations and feeding the Thais propaganda," Clark continued. "They have been allowing only bad news on Thaksin to be aired. They put pictures of the king on TV and play their anthem to make the people believe all is well. It's amazing."

Still, most of the e-mails CNN received described a peaceful scene.

"The situation in Thailand is very calm today," wrote Parichatt Krongkant of Bangkok. "The coup leader is a well-respected soldier. If he had not decided to do it, there would have been violence today, since the big demonstration of opposition to Thaksin was scheduled for September 21. Today you see people giving flowers, food and support to soldiers along the street. We are glad that Thaksin is kicked out."

While many writers welcomed the coup, some raised concerns.

Francisco Bermúdez said he is a Spaniard who has lived and worked in Thailand for a while.

"This coup is not going to help the Thai people in any way," he wrote. "There were elections to be held in November, so in the name of democracy the police and army should stay home and let people elect whoever they want."

If Thaksin is guilty of corruption, Bermúdez wrote, he should be legally prosecuted.

"The damage to foreign investment and rule of law will take years to heal," he added.

Some correspondents complained that television was censored, with images of Thaksin blocked out. Others said they had no problem watching CNN and other news channels.

Gabriel Metzger, an American visiting Bangkok, ended his e-mail simply, "I hope for peace!"

Soldiers sit on top of a tank as they patrol the streets of Bangkok Wednesday.




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