Prison of water, revisited

Chopper-evac, boat rescue, emergency visit from PM Thaksin, relief supplies and sandbags, one billion baht damage, floating dead…

…for most people, these words evocate the horrible scenes of the tsunami that hit Thai shores last Christmas.

However, the scene described with these phrases happened just yesterday and today, in my city, Chiang Mai. Read the Bangkok Post article titled “Four Dead in Northern Floods”. The article describes central Chiang Mai as a “chest-deep lake”.

True, it was a heavy downpour all day long yesterday, and we got plenty of rain the weeks before too. This is the second time I’ve been through monsoon rain. I wrote a blog entry last year, titled Prison of Water. That experience was much different than this one, but it’s worth comparing.

chest-deep flood A friend of mine called this morning, saying that she is trapped in her house, even her car can’t get through the moat that suddenly appeared at her doorstep this morning. Luckily, her house is safe, but her neighbor can’t say the same thing. They had to move up to the second floor, as the first is under water. (picture courtesy of Bangkok Post; more pictures on chiangmai-mail.com )

However, none of this is apparent from the university. The roads are dry, and people come and go as if nothing happened. Watching the everyday scene, it’s difficult to imagine that just a few blocks away people were fighting for their lives, and lost their possessions.

My place, luckily, was spared from this fate. However, ominous dark clouds are looming on the sky, as signs of more to come, despite the TAT’s effort to minimize the news impact, as seen in the article. But, that’s to be expected from them by now. After all, they were the ones declaring the South to be fit for visiting again, despite tourists complaining about the ‘warzone’ that awaited them. Anyway…

If I’ll have time, I will go and check the damaged areas and see what’s to be done, if anything, since my traveling plans are most likely to be canceled anyway. However, I can’t really complain, seeing how others lost so much more.

Sorry that I didn’t write the blog I promised earlier; this one is more timely, and of more importance.

See you all later,

12 responses to “Prison of water, revisited

  1. Totally amazed to read in Bangkok Post that the bottom of ChangKlan Road under a metre of water for a while Pictures of the floods in CM were shown on UK TV news.
    Is the reason for the severity of the floods illegal logging by hilltribes as Thaksin and government says or lack of proper investment in flood defences in Chiang mai Province?
    Keep dry !

  2. The Monsoons have been rather heavy this year it seems.

  3. I roughly knew that the floods up north were bad from a short newspaper article but it is still very scary.

    That’s unfortunate about your friend SiamJai. I hope she and others in those troublespots will be helped back to normal soon.

  4. “I wrote a blog entry last year, titled Prison of Water. “
    the link to “prison of water” doesn’t work properly over here.

  5. Have Just seen all the pics in the “Chiang Mai Mail”
    http://www.chiangmai-mail.com
    -flooding far worse than I thought -far worse.

  6. Thanks everyone. :L) Still safe and dry here.

    Khun Don, thank you for the link – those pics are telling the story more than any blogs could! 🙂 I will edit the link into the blog, just in case for folks who don’t read the comments (shame on ’em!)

    I wonder about the cause too. I think that inadequate flood management is definitely one; the only question is whether other factors also played a role.

    I’ve seen the Mae Ping in the mountains a day after the flood. It was amazing, but also scary. THAT kind of force can’t be kept in check by emergency sandbags, what were they thinking??

    I’m not sure what to think about the illegal logging though. For one thing, it’s been going on for years; even my 2002 Lonely Planet mentions it. If it were indeed the cause, how come such floods didn’t happen during the previous seasons?

    How convenient for Mr. Thasin to lay the blame on the people who can’t defend themselves in the media: the hilltribes. I think he just wants to divert attention from the fact that his hand-picked leaders failed to protect the city from such an obvious threat. The oversight is further apparent from the comments of the Mayor, expressing his confidence that Chiang Mai residents would not face floods this year – just a few weeks before the flood.

    I wonder what long-term projects will be initiated to placate the public, and whether they will actually be carried out, or fade into oblivion as soon as public attention turns to the next big thing. … :/

  7. Jen, my friend is safe now. The water receded the following days, and most major ways were again safe to pass.

    Betti, sorry about the dead link. The reason was that the URL linked to the ‘admin’ root folder, which is password-protected. So, when I proof-clicked before posting, it worked on my PC, but it wouldn’t let anyone else in.

    I fixed it now, it should work anywhere. Thank you for letting me know. 🙂

  8. SiamJai -Yes. I too thought that good ol’ Chiang Mai boy Thaksin would find it easier to blame those that can not answer back, rather than admit to any lack of investment in what is a “Thai Rak Thai” heartland. If I remember correctly “TRT” won every seat in the province with no more than 2 exceptions at the most in last February’s election.
    Another fact that has been smoothly glossed over is that it is not the hill tribes that are often to blame for any illegal logging on the large scale to cause such floods, but “influential people” and “dark forces”- who are very much Thai.
    I do not think much will be spent on flood defences -beyond protecting the assets of “influential people” that is !

  9. After the floods in Chiang Mai, it is now Korat’s turn – pics etc:-
    http://www.thekoratpost.com

  10. Hi SiamJai -have just read in “The Nation” that Chiang Mai is badly flooded again -hope you are keeping dry !

  11. Hi Khun Don,

    Thank you for your concern… 🙂 The Nation was right, but I’m fine, safe and dry.

    We are entertained with wonderful ‘heavenly fireworks’ nearly every night here, with water added for good measure. One night I found the parking lot in front of my apartment flooded; the waterway couldn’t handle the heavy overload, and spilled over.

    Nothing to worry though, as the daily scorching heat quickly evaporates most of the water. What can I say? Mother Nature in transition. 🙂

  12. Glad to read you escaped the worst.
    Our old friend the Chiangmai Mail has all the pics again.

    http://www.chiangmai-mail.com/