Oct 10 2011
Bangkok is still bracing for flooding in a few days to a week as waters from elsewhere in Thailand continue to surge towards the already low-lying capital.
Thirty of Thailand’s 77 provinces have been hit by floods and landslides since July, with a death toll now edging towards 300. Reuters reports that the total area in Thailand under water is now about 13 times the size of Hong Kong; nearly 200 factories around Ayutthaya have been shuttered by the disaster. Meanwhile Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has postponed trips abroad as the damage worsens.
But what’s the mood like now in Bangkok?
QBar owner Andrew Clark said that most Bangkokians don’t believe their neighbourhoods will flood, “but government officials are encouraging them to take precautions, and after seeing images from less than 100km north, factories under six metres of water, people are beginning to panic and stock up.”
Clark says he was in Bangkok during floods in 1992, when he emerged from a theatre and had to walk six kilometres through central Bangkok in two to three feet of water. That lasted 24 hours. Now, he says, “much better drainage systems are in place, but [there are] also more structures obstructing natural drainage.”
Broadcaster Jack Prinya says people in his patch are staying cool for now. “Having seen weeks of news of flood devastation throughout Thailand, Bangkok residents are resigned to the fact we’ll see flooding as well. [There have been] some instances of hoarding, a shortage of sand for sandbags, but no real panic so far. People are making preparations of home and business for the worst, but hoping it won’t be catastrophic.”
ABC journalist Zoe Daniels has posted her latest snaps here.
What does this mean for your travels? Should you cancel a planned trip to Bangkok? For now, we’d say no, but keep a close eye on the news in the coming days. If things do start to worsen and you’re the risk averse type, you may want to reconsider drier spots in the region — mountainous Laos, anyone? But seriously, the Gulf of Thailand islands remain dry (that includes Samui, which has an airport, Ko Phangan and Ko Tao), should you wish to divert a planned trip from somewhere now washed out.
Keep an eye out for embassy warnings. If your embassy warns you against non-essential travel to a particular area your travel insurance may be void.
If you’re already in Thailand and you need information on the floods, call 1111 then press 5, while for information on flooding in Bangkok, call 1555. English-speaking tourist police can be reached on 1155. Emergency flood relief headquarters have been set up at Bangkok’s Don Muang airport.
If you want to donate to help victims of the floods, you can do so at Thai embassies and consulates around the world. See the list of them here.
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