Posted by: adventuressetravels | May 4, 2012

A Waterlogged Paradise

The week before my flight to Bangkok my sister begged me not to go.

“Delay your ticket,” she implored me.  There was no way the plane could possibly land.  The city was underwater.   As a manager for Toshiba, she was at her wits end trying to keep the stockholders happy with production at a standstill.  The factories were under 3 meters of water.

Though I was a little apprehensive to board, my flight still took off as scheduled.   I crossed my fingers as we landed in Shanghai, but thankfully the connecting flight took off on time without a problem.

Luckily the center of the city wasn’t as badly flooded as the outskirts, but the streets were still submerged.  Khao San road was a river.  Tuk tuks rolled through watery streets.  Businesses stayed open.  They couldn’t afford to shut down in such a tourist-dependent town.  But the precautions had transformed the city.   Doorways were piled high with sandbags and built wooden barriers built up around them to keep the encroaching water out.

Taking the bus into town, the city looked post-apocalyptic, with long rows of abandoned cars lining the highways, parked all the way down the off-ramps, up to the vast expanse of water.  Tall apartment buildings stuck their upper floors out of the murky water, and smaller houses brown waves lapping at the rooftops.

Vendors selling rowboats set up their booths in locations throughout town.  It seemed that Bangkok was becoming the Venice of the Far East.  Global warming had really taken its toll on Thailand.  At least that’s what I thought.

I took a bus to the relatively-dry safety of Northern Thailand as soon as I could.  At my hostel in Chiang Mai, Thailand’s cultural capital, I talked to the owner about the floods, lamenting that I had really come at the wrong time.  I really hoped that this wasn’t because of global warming.  Did she think that this terrible rainfall would happen again next year?  Did she think that this hurt the country’s tourism industry?

Much to my surprise the older Thai woman launched into a long impassioned rant.  It was not the environment at all: Thailand hadn’t gotten significantly more but the government.  According to her though the rainfall had been greater the government officials could easily have let the water out of dams and stemmed the flooding.  They had months to plan for it… the water had fallen in Northern Thailand and the flooding was caused by water draining south.  However because of greed: because they wanted a longer rice-harvest, the officials didn’t properly manage the dams.  She was not a fan of the new prime minister or of the government.

I was taken aback, especially after hearing how much the Thai people loved their king.  Sure, she hadn’t spoken a word against the king, but it was never-the-less anti-government.  Were these feelings held by a large portion of the population?

I am not entirely sure how much of her allegations to believe, but it was certainly interesting to see things from this different perspective.  Could the flooding in Bangkok have been averted?  Was there really unrest in the Thai people?  Of the people whom I spoke with, she was the only who viewed the floods as the government’s fault, or at least spoke to me about it.  What was the rest of Thailand, non-English-Speaking Thailand’s, sentiment?  Moreover what actually happened?


  1. Amazing! The government in Kansas is blamed for our floods, too.

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