Oct 29 2011

Bangkok flooding update: October 29, 2011

Published by at 3:16 pm under Floods

As the tide swells and Bangkok empties of noodles, condoms, and now people, tourists have been advised to plan around the floods. The US Embassy issued a travel alert on Thursday, while the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has now advised against all but essential travel to Bangkok (see our thoughts on that here).

All stock must go!

All stock must go!

In the country’s worst flooding since 1942, the authorities have flip-flopped on the severity of the floods and their plan of action. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who has remained seemingly calm and unfazed until yesterday, has pleaded for “fresh ideas” in managing the rising waters. She advised work crews to cut the channels in five roadways to drain the floodwaters heading towards north of Bangkok, but the plan was vetoed later for dredging canals and using pumps.

Friday afternoon, Sukhumvit Soi 48 and 50 were reportedly flooded, as a section of the dyke along Phra Khanong canal collapsed. The knowledge that Sukhumvit area is finally in danger increased the flood panic for some, though the water is far down the soi and nowhere near Sukhumvit Road proper or the BTS On Nut station.

Fishballs in butter with a whipped cream chaser anyone?

Fishballs in butter with a whipped cream chaser anyone?



Chatuchak Weekend Market has closed this weekend as many of the vendors try to protect their wares. Illustrating how the flood is touching everyone, the Bangkok Post had a story on fish vendors and how they are debating saving their tropical fish from the oncoming inundation.

In fear of non-working ATMs in flooded areas, some citizens have started to take out money and leave for drier pastures. The exodus from Bangkok has made the notoriously bad traffic even worse, with miles of back-to-back cars looking for new routes to avoid flooded roads and trips taking three or four times longer than usual.

All flights out of Don Muang have been cancelled since the airport was closed Tuesday but Suvarnabhumi airport, Bangkok’s main travel hub, remains open for business and a temporary home for Nok Air and Orient Thai Airlines.

Business as usual last night at Tesco Lotus on Soi 50, the scene of the flooding.

Business as usual last night at Tesco Lotus on Soi 50, the scene of the flooding.

Many bus and train routes heading north have been suspended (while some companies have increased their schedule to accommodate fleeing citizens), and portions of the highway have been closed off. As for finding a taxi, it may be more difficult as an estimated 50% of the cabs are missing from the city streets.

Hua Hin, a seaside resort town 200km from Bangkok, is now a popular flood-vacation destination. There have been rumours of food shortages and over-occupied hotels, so check online ahead of travelling there.

Might want to stack those a little bit higher..

Might want to stack those a little bit higher..

Please note, not all citizens in Bangkok are evacuating. Some, including myself and fellow Bangkok correspondent Brock, have decided to stock up on water, snacks, and good movies until further notice. Even those flood victims whose houses are partially submerged have sought refuge a floor higher. In an ongoing familial theme, many young Thais have simply been unable to convince their parents to move. The award for the bravest (and most headstrong) in the face of disaster goes to the elderly Bangkokians.

For a city of 9 million people, the streets and public transportation do feel eerily empty, but people have continued to go on with their daily lives. We are still going out to eat som tam, get our nails done, and shop till we drop in typical Bangkok fashion. The BTS and MRT are both running normally. If it weren’t for the sandbags and newly-arisen cemented walls in front of stores, one might not know Central Bangkok is in crisis.

Just a normal day on the BTS, minus a few thousand people

Just a normal day on the BTS, minus a few thousand people.

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6 Responses to “Bangkok flooding update: October 29, 2011” ...

  1. Edwardon 29 Oct 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Most informative little article. Please keep them coming. Thanks.

  2. Munawar Baigon 30 Oct 2011 at 1:40 am

    Please intimate present position of Flooding in Bangkok 74, Soi 3 and Soi 4
    because my travel date is 15 Nov 2011 from Lahore to Bangkok for visit spend my
    vacation my Hotel is Unico Express Soi 3 so thats why what can i do, can this Soi
    is safe for Hotling or not, Flood water is drain out or not the life is comfortable or not can i travel on l5 Nov 2011, transportation is available from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Unico Express Hotel Bangkok 74 Soi 3.

    Best Regards,
    Munawar Baig
    Mob # 923213636076

  3. Sueon 30 Oct 2011 at 3:11 pm

    My advise to all is cancel your flights and hotel bookings, get a refund, its possible. Even if Bangkok is not flooding, there will be shortage of food and drinking water. Electricity might be cut off and most road blocks, will cost inconvenience. The air is just not healthy so why take the risk. If you want to be adventurous, they are many ways. Why put your family at risk and let them worry?
    Stay home and enjoy the best of your holiday with your family.

  4. Rogeron 30 Oct 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Well, myself and two friends are still coming to visit Thailand on Nov 5th. Assuming the main airport is still open, we will fly on to Phuket and still enjoy the wonderful hospitality.

  5. Emma Rosenbergon 30 Oct 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Hi Munawar,

    I would actually advise you not to cancel your flight and hotel if you are coming by November 15. Please still come, Bangkok needs your visit now more than ever. Water may be harder to find in supermarkets, but its not impossible, and definitely available for tourists staying in hotels. There is shortage of dry goods, but as always, Bangkok is brimming with noodles and street food. You will not be hungry.


  6. Wilkins MacQueenon 02 Nov 2011 at 8:39 am

    Look, I’ve lived in Bangkok for 3 years. I left my district of Nong Khaem for Hua Hin Oct 31. You could not buy any drinking water, bread, eggs and hadn’t been able for days. I work at the Mall, Bang Khae and althought the supermarket there did an admirable job of trying to keep essentials in, there was no bottled water for days. No 7/11 has water. The only place to get water is in the machines. 1 baht for 1.5 litres. That will last until power is cut, which happens when it floods.

    If you land at Suv. airport and travel from there to other parts of Thailand you will be fine. Bangkok right now is a disaster, except for the core inner city. That can change in an instant.

    We don’t have accurate, live reports. There is little or no warning on districts that need to be evacuated. There is no drinking water distribution system that I can detect. Even the 7/11 in Hua Hin is extremely low on bottled water. The PM and the Governor are at constant loggerheads. One set of evacuees have been moved 4 times due to the evacuation camps being flooded.

    I wouldn’t come now if you can get your money back. If you can’t, alter your plans to arrive in Bangkok and head out to other spots and enjoy. Just avoid Bangkok. Once the water does leave (in about a month) you will see the after affects of the flood. The clean up will be massive and disease will be a worry.

    A humanitarian crisis is in the making. Residents are scuffling over opening/closing sluice gates. Frustrations can run very high and it will take little to ignite pockets of trouble. The people who have had water for a month or longer in their homes can only take so much.

    The dykes have been under stress. No one knows how much longer they can hold. Scour the internet and make your decision accordingly.

    Thailand is a great vacation destination. Right now Bangkok has troubles that may escalate or diminish depending on many factors, including the weather.