Oct 18 2011
Saturday and Sunday were supposed to be waiting Bangkokians’ Waterloo, with either victory or defeat delivered by the last high tide yesterday. It hasn’t panned out quite that way.
Water has not moved quite as quickly as expected to the south and out into the Gulf of Thailand. Flood waters continue to press south, engulfing manufacturing facilities to the north of the city. As reported in today’s Bangkok Post, six large industrial estates north of the metropolitan area have been inundated and their workers evacuated, leaving 300,000 people unemployed. Currently, neighborhoods surrounding Don Muang airport are threatened and the government is scrambling to provide enough sandbags to reinforce flood walls.
For travellers to Bangkok, the situation is this:
The rail link to the north is severed. Bus transport is operating, using a modified route that avoids flooded sections of central Thailand. Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Sukhothai are all back to (relative) normal, having spent 10 days shuttling their own flood waters towards the capital region.
Ayutthaya and Bangpa-in are flooded and generally inaccessible.
Attractions to the west, such as Kanchanburi and the Three Pagodas Pass are unaffected, as are those to the east, like Koh Chang. Isaan is also (mostly) unaffected, and accessible by both rail and bus.
Suvarnabhumi International Airport is in a flood plain, however the government pledges it will not flood as it is protected by a complex flood control system. Don Muang is currently operating a normal schedule.
Things are functioning normally in Bangkok; everyone just keeps one eye on the river. Certain exits on the MRT subway system have been preemptively closed to mitigate the risk of flash flood waters entering the system, and there are lots of sandbags where last week there were none, but other than that there is little damage or disruption in central Bangkok.
Planning a trip to Thailand soon? Don’t cancel your plans. After losing a big chunk of its industrial manufacturing backbone, the kingdom and its people need you to come and spend money — flood them with tourist dollars. It would be a welcome change from monsoon waters.
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