Nov 07 2011
Though the threat of tidal flooding has receded, Thailand’s worst floods in five decades are still sweeping closer to central Bangkok, causing more and more residents to evacuate their homes and flee to drier land. Bangkok’s governor has declared 16 of the city’s 50 districts as evacuation zones, but the water continues to flow southward, attempting to drain into the Gulf of Thailand.
On Sunday, the waters reached the northernmost point of the city’s rail system. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) ordered residents to evacuate in all zones of Chatuchak, home to tourist landmark Chatuchak Market. The market was flooded as of late Sunday (see photos) and essentially closed for business, though you could still find a few brave vendors trying to earn their living.
Should you cancel your trip? The situation is certainly fluid (no pun intended) but as of late Sunday, central Bangkok remained open for business. Tourists are still here. Central Bangkok is not in prime shape for visitors, but it is livable for residents. If you are worried, you can still transit through the capital by plane, bus or train to get elsewhere. If you still want to come and see the sights — most of them, anyway — the city is happy to have you.
There is plenty of food and water available. Bottled water may be harder to come by because of disruptions in distribution, but it’s not impossible to find. For example, on Sunday my local supermarket was empty of all water except for Fiji. I walked to a small convenience store and bought six litres of filtered water at a standard price. End of story.
In terms of local transport, the BTS (Skytrain) is operating normally. The MRT (Metro) is operating normally, though some entrances are blocked off and stations are under “flood watch”. The Chao Phraya Express has been suspended until November 14 due to the river’s high water levels. Cross-river ferry and longtail boats are operating normally, but expect to get a little wet. Taxis and motorcycles are available, some even in flooded areas. Note, however; if you are in a dry area and still need to go to an area under flood watch or partly flooded, it may be difficult to find someone willing to drive you. Numerous roads or sections of roads are closed off, though buses heading north have managed to find creative ways to drive out of the city.
You can still catching buses or trains from Bangkok to other parts of the country.
Mo Chit bus terminal, a gateway to northern Thailand, remains open and buses are still running, though you should expect long delays as water is fast approaching. Ekkamai or the Eastern bus terminal, your link to destinations like Ko Samet, is operating normally. The Southern bus terminal (Sai Tai Mai) has been relocated to Holland Beer Brewery on Rama II Road.
Suvarnabhumi airport, the capital’s main airport, was built on a flood plain but is operating normally. Don Muang airport, after flooding late last month, remains closed. The several airlines operating out of Don Muang have shifted to Suvarnabhumi.
The Ministry of Education, after prolonging the start of the new semester, reopens schools this week, though some will remain closed until November 18.
Some sites are reportedly closed, such as Safari World, the Museum of Siam, the National Memorial Museum, the Royal Air Force Museum and the Royal Barge Museum, along with Chatuchak Market.
To find out more about volunteer efforts and how you can help, click here, though the situation is ever-changing, so do try to confirm the latest situation before you trudge across town to help.
And please be warned that if you do plan on passing through flooded or at-risk areas by foot, you should try to wear protective footwear, especially if you have open cuts. The water is not pretty. The risks of disease and other dangers from the floods is being debated at the moment, with critics charging the government of downplaying the danger. Bangkok Pundit has a good wrap here.
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