Bangkok's normally bustling streets emptied out on Wednesday morning, from shopping stalls to red light districts, as Thais and tourists learned that the military had launched a coup against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and imposed martial law.
Foreigners who clustered in tourist areas tried to make sense of the latest twist in Thailand's political crisis as bars closed early and sent many into the streets under a persistent rain shower.
Across Bangkok, Thais who trickled out onto barren streets welcomed the surprise turn of events as a necessary climax to months of demands for Thaksin to resign amid allegations of corruption, electoral skullduggery and a worsening Muslim insurgency in the south.
Many were surprised, but few seemed disappointed.
A few dozen curious citizens raced over to the prime minister's office to take pictures of tanks surrounding the area.
"This is exciting. Someone had to do this. It's the right thing," said Somboon Sukheviriya, 45, software developer snapping pictures of the armoured vehicles with his cell phone.
Like many, he spoke of past military coups in this Southeast Asian nation that had resulted in bloodshed but predicted that this time there would be no conflict.
"There's no blood. Everyone is on their side," Somboon said, pointing to the troops.
One woman handed out roses to soldiers at military headquarters, and other onlookers took a collection to buy food for them.