Thailand's Flood Crisis 2011 - An Expat's View from Bangkok
2011 - The Greatest Flood in Thailand's History
'Nahm Twoom' the Thai word for flood. There is a lot of debate whether or not Thailand's flood crisis was avoidable or not. And there is certainly as many fingers to point as there are to blame. From the rookie Prime Minister Yingluck Shiniwatra to the Governor of Bangkok and corrupt politicians to the military. In a way, Thailand's flood crisis is a recipe for the perfect storm.
For the past month everyone in Bangkok concerned about the flood has their eyes' glued to the nightly news broadcasts. Watching intently where the flood has already hit and who's next in the path of the flood waters. Even rumors of a nefarious plot of creating a "New Thailand" has surfaced that the flood was created on purpose so that huge swaths of land can be bought for dirt cheap and can then be replaced with another money making metropolis like Bangkok.
Like everyone else I am also keeping a close eye. And like everyone else I keep hearing a different answers from the powers that be. To be fair - it is a massive amount of water and I don't think anyone is prepared to give an answer at all. At best the professors, politicians and so called flood experts advising the Prime Minister are all making educated guesses. It is the biggest flood catastrophe in Thailand after all.
Thais are all too familiar with floods and just the past few years alone there were major floods up north and northeast from the capital city of Bangkok. But this year's flood is quite epic as runoff water of an estimated 100 billion cubic meters of water is about to engulf Bangkok since the city sits right on the delta leading to the sea.
This has nothing at all to do with the fact that most would see Thailand as a third would country. Being caught unprepared in a disastrous flood of epic proportions does not have anything to do the with a country's superiority. Just take a look at the USA and its own Hurricane Katrina disaster of 2005.
Who's right and who's wrong doesn't really matter anymore since the city will inevitably be inundated and partially submerged. What matters now is how the government can avoid such a huge disaster in the future.
Even though popular areas where most tourists stay in inner Bangkok such as Sukhumvit and SIlom are supposedly quite safe from flood waters many tourists have cancelled their travel plans. And many who are staying here have fled to Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Samui, Hua Hin and any other province that are not in the path of runoff waters from the north.
Both Pictures Taken A Day Apart
An educational video on how the flood started
Thai People in a Crisis
The occasional foreign tourists to Bangkok might see Thais in an unfavorable light. That's because their interactions are strictly within major tourist attractions. Which is where most Thai scam artists and annoying aggressive touts ply their trade. In turn most tourists assume that all Thais are the same and equally conniving. Every country or major city has it's fair share of scoundrels. Even in NYC where I live half the year.
To me, since living in Thailand 6 months out of the year for over 10 years I see them as some of the kindest and most down to earth people on the face of this planet. And I hope it shows from the pictures I've placed on this hub.
Many of the people displaced by the flood waters are the poor and lower middle class Thais who had to deal up with dams and sandbags with water as high as several meters in their homes. And know they have to put up the possibility of being electrocuted, poor sanitary conditions, snakes, crocodiles and water borne illnesses.
There is a saying that the Thai people are poor planners. But they are excellent at coping.
Yet Life Goes On - Mai Bpen Rai
I admire the sheer resilence of the Thai people. Their generosity shines whenever there are natural disasters such as the Tsunami of 2004, the floods that have hit the north the past few years as well as the clean up of the streets by the average citizens after the red shirts took control over parts of the city in 2010.
'Mai Bpen Rai' is a phrase you will hear often in Thailand. It has several interpretations such as 'That's okay', 'No problem', 'Never mind' and 'It's no big deal'. It is sort of a philosphy in life that implies all is well.
A Little Help Goes A Long Way
My pictures of the flood affecting the people in Bangkok doesn't do any justice for Thailand as a whole. As bad as the flooding is in Bangkok there are other provinces in the country that is in even far worse conditions. Homes have been completely submerged in Thonburi, Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Sawan and other outlying towns and village.
Rice fields, plantations of all varieties and factories that supply jobs to thousands of Thais are submerged by water that won't recede for quite some time. And many of the affected are poor farmers and laborers who have had their lives changed overnight.
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