A few days ago, when Thais began to realize floods would definitely be arriving in Bangkok, for many of them the first thing they thought about was their car.
For most Thais, cars are bought with car loans and many pay high monthly car payments they can barely afford. So, when something like a massive flood threatens Bangkok, the first thing they must try to save is their car.
And thus the Great Bangkok Car Shuffle began.
Thais from all over the city began to drive their cars to higher ground and leave them there. They figured they stood more chance of having a car that survived the floods, if it was parked away from their home, than they did leaving it in the carport or parked out on the street.
So, all over Bangkok, Thais have been dumping their cars in the parking lots of high-rise shopping complexes, at Suvarnabhumi Airport, at sports complexes, high-rise apartment buildings and, yes, even parking them in huge lines on freeways and overpasses.
So prevalent is it, one Bangkok newscaster this week said Thailand has just won the world record for “The World’s Longest Parking Lot” — on a freeway.
Some cars are parked legally and many are not. So bad is the parking situation in the illegal areas now, the government is begging Thais to stop parking their cars on freeways.
After all, if there needs to be an evacuation out of the city due to Bangkok flooding, it will be impossible to get most people out when two of the three lanes on the freeway are nothing more than a massive parking lot lined with abandoned cars.
Parking in the far left emergency lane is currently allowed. Parking in an actual driving lane is not and will likely result in your car being towed.
But, now the government has opened the sluice gates, and the floods are heading to Bangkok. And, as many predicted, the areas where some of these cars are parked are not as ‘safe’ as their owners thought they were.
Early this afternoon the government asked owners of cars parked at the Tupatemee stadium of the Royal Thai Air Force in Don Meuang to quickly come and get their cars as the flood waters are rising — fast.
Thai car owners are now rushing there to move their car before it disappears under three feet of water. Some will probably not make it.
Expect to see this all over Bangkok too, as car owners are suddenly faced with the reality that the former ‘safe’ area of the city is soon going to be under water, and their car with it.
Thus begins the Great Bangkok Car Shuffle. Personally? Now is a good time not to own a car.