We are bracing in Bangkok for the waters. The country looks apocalyptic. I went to Chinatown on Thursday, literally, when it started to flood.
The little restaurant at the Peninsula Pier is knee-deep flooded and now provides free foot wash and leg cooling.
This was Thursday, Oct. 20th 2011 afternoon. Friday, Oct. 21st 2011, I drove up to Ayutthaya to provide some relief and supplies to the people at our plant. Basically, from Sukhumvit to Chatuchak/LadPrao the only difference is that traffic is very light – no traffic jam, what-so-ever. Past Chattuchak, trek highway starts to serve as a parking lot for cars that were brought to safety on the evaluated highway. Coming off the highway into Rangsit, severe flooding starts.
People wander around on floats, trying to salvage what is salvagable and looking for refuge. It has not rained for the last few days, except for a sprinkle in the late afternoon. Other than that the sun is beating down, which makes for brutal humidity on the ground. In terms of help, the further north we drive the less official help we saw. There was no police at all – at least we did not see any. The occasional army truck that transported aid and people, but that’s it.
Among the many cars and people stranded on the highway was a pig transport. The driver let the animals out. They are naturally corralled by the water. In the afternoon, there was a tarp, that the pigs found shade under. Now, I wonder, for how long the pigs will be there unscathed. There we about 20 pigs in total, that would make for one hell of a barbecue.
The further north we went, the more people were just camping out on the few dry patches of the highway. The highway between Rangsit and Ayutthaya is passable only on one side of the road. I have not been further north, but I assume the situation is similar in the other flooded areas.
Finally we made it to our destination in Ayutthaya. We had driven from Rangsit continuously in Water between 10cm to 70cm deep. Since the highway is slightly raised, the water over the rest of the province is easily 1m high. There are locations where the water is up to 2m high. On the way to Ayutthaya, there were only a few companies that had built sufficient protection for their plants. One was Singha – the beer company, another was my company. We are absolutely dry. I give our people a lot a credit for working tirelessly on holding the plant and keeping it save.
Overall, I am impressed with how people cope on the outside with this catastrophe. You can still hear laughter. People help each other and most importantly no plundering or extraordinary crime. I hope that it will stay as disciplined as it is right now. For that to happen, I think police must make an appearance and start t contribute by helping out as well. From what it seems to me, a situation could arise where distributing help become a problem. Finally, I hope that the government rises to the occasion and starts acting competent. In this disaster lies a great opportunity to unify the country again and heal the wounds that have been caused during last year’s riots.
That’s it for today. Stay sharp and save. So far I have not heard about any donation accounts to help the Thai people, but I will let you know as soon as I hear something. Example: One of my engineers just made his second payment of his brand-new house – it is now completely flooded. Insurance is not as comprehensive in Thailand as it is in Europe or the US.