Catapaults and Bamboo Rocket Launchers, Guns And Spears: Ancient and Modern Urban Warfare Bangkok Style! Plus Beans And a Rotten Tomato


Hugh Paxton’s Blog is cleaning its act up and deleting things. A lot of posts are of historical interest but are out of date. I’ll erase many, re-blog a few. Here’s one of them. It was Thailand then, when I wrote it. It isn’t Thailand now. We have the army in charge and the following is no longer relevant. But they were interesting times. If you missed this one it might merit a read. But the Red Shirts are gone along with all their innovative urban warfare materiel. Calm has returned to The Kingdom. It just needed tanks and smiling soldiers and arrests. Here’s the post from that time.


Hugh from Bangkok


When I was in Sabah (Malaysian Borneo) I watched a duel fought by children with home made bamboo rockets. The Kinabatangan  river, just upstream of the delta, separated the combatants. At this stage of flow, the river was wide – perhaps 200 yards.

The missiles were coke bottles slotted into chopped bamboo stems. The impetus for the projectiles was a combination of lighter fluid and a few secret ingredients that I won’t describe. No bomb making tips available on this Blog. It’s policy!

Back to the rockets! It was harmless kid’s fun. Like stone fights or snowballing. Only with rockets. The things that made a lasting impression on me were 1. H ow far the missiles flew. 2. How simple the bamboo devices were  and 3. How incredibly excruciating it was to be injured by shrapnel.  One of the little swine on the far bank zapped my veranda. Glad he missed my head.

But it was one hell of a shot!

The reason I am boring you with yet another “How I escaped death by mere inches” travel writer anecdote is this.

Central Bangkok is currently awash with larger versions of those Sabah bamboo rocket launchers.


Some of the Red Shirt anti government protesters have modern weapons  – Methi Amornwutthikul, a prominent screen actor, has been busted for supplying M79 grenade launchers to mobs, and police Sgt Major Prinya Maneekhote, has a bit of explaining to do after he was discovered carrying 63 grenades and assorted mortars to a Red Shirt rally. He might be a…


Yes things are getting even sillier in the Thai Fruit and Veg political department. A Watermelon is a soldier. Green uniform on the outside, but his heart is with the Reds. A Tomato is a policeman who is Red through and through.  Or Sgt Maj Prinya  could be a…


Mortars are currently going for 1,200 Baht a pop.  Prinya took 600,000 Baht out of his bank account. My guess is that those 63 grenades he had were a taster and that he wanted to make lots of money helping his fellow Reds kill lots of people. My take on Prinya is that he is a…




The Reds have bamboo rockets of sufficient size and punch to bring down a helicopter. Or so they claim. They have also planted bamboo stakes to reinforce their barricades. Very primitive. But history attests to their effectiveness. Bamboo is tough stuff. Stands survived the Hiroshima bomb and large shoots deflect bullets.


Unboiled Thai green beans are being scattered in front of the Red positions. The rationale is that they will make soldiers slip and take a tumble.


Smashing shopping mall windows, spraying oil or acid on soldiers, burning rubber tyres, buying mortars from policemen, annoying everybody by causing traffic jams.


Worth a mention but I can’t really help you on this one. It was allegedly announced on Red Shirt Radio. And allegedly is full of new and exciting ideas. But it was broadcast in Thai and my radio is still in a ship’s container (along with a lot of other stuff) in the Andaman Sea.

I missed Operation Shock.

But watch for the deployment of Bamboo rockets.

TRAVEL ADVISORY: More than forty countries have advised against visiting Thailand. This Blog says don’t fret. Most of the country is trouble free and wonderful. Nobody has deployed war elephants. The airport is functioning well. The trains aren’t on time but who needs Mussolini?

That’s it for now. Stay safe! And don’t write Thailand off as a war zone. Compared to real war zones such as Congo or a Newcastle pub at closing time, it’s a cake walk!



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3 Responses to “Catapaults and Bamboo Rocket Launchers, Guns And Spears: Ancient and Modern Urban Warfare Bangkok Style! Plus Beans And a Rotten Tomato”

  1. Charles Paxton Says:

    That’s a whole new variation (to me, anyway) of the bottle rocket.

  2. Andy Says:

    Some rotten ‘tomatoes’ have admitted trying to RPG the Emerald Buddha, but the attack failed as the rocket ‘became entangled’ in power lines and fell short! Buddha smiles on Bangkok power’s haphazard but surprisingly effective wiring solution, ( that is provided you are not a snake!)

  3. Hugh Paxton Says:

    Reblogged this on Hugh Paxton's Blog.

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