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Living in Limbo in Bangkok – Waiting for the Floods

This empty parking lot near my apartment has been packed full of cars and industrial vehicles every day for 9 years. Today, it's been cleared, just in case we get hit with floods.

 

To say that living in Bangkok at the moment is odd is an understatement. While the north of the country has been sitting under massive floods for weeks now, and the northern suburbs of Bangkok got hit with them on Friday, most of the rest of Bangkok is still operating as normal. But, living in limbo — waiting for the floods.

The Thai government of Yingluck Shinawatra has said over and over that “inner city Bangkok” will be safe from the floods and, up until yesterday, was continuing to say that. The government is desperate to save Bangkok, as it’s the center of the entire country’s economy.

Some people believe Yingluck. Some don’t.  I’m one of the former, or at least I believe my area won’t flood.

I live near Central Ladprao and near Major Ratchayothin, and Thai friends and people in the neighborhood have been telling me this area never floods — at least not more than a few inches. Plus, when my apartment building was built, the owners deliberately built up the land so the foundation of the building is set on land more than three feet higher than the street level. Sure, the lobby could flood, but they don’t think so. I’m on the eighth floor so I’m certain I’m safe.

But, what’s odd about being in Bangkok at the moment is the lack of traffic (everyone is leaving their cars on higher ground and using public transportation or staying home), the absence of many foods in the supermarkets (people are panic buying — I haven’t been able to buy bread in three days), and the completely empty shelves at two of my neighborhood 7-11s. And it seems so eerily quiet.

Even weirder is the way life is going on as normal in inner city Bangkok while, less than 8 miles to the north people are living without electricity and running water, and having to paddle or take boats through two to three feet of water just to go and get food and water.

In some sense, living safely in Bangkok, while more than a third of the entire country is under water makes me feel incredibly guilty. Guilty that my life is going on as normal, with running water, electricity, cable TV, and internet, and food on the supermarket shelves, while so many Thais are suffering terribly.

Life in limbo in Bangkok is sad. Sad for the country, sad for its people, and sad for the seemingly never-ending hardships Thailand seems to be faced with.

But, one saving grace is this. The Thais. They’re probably the most resilient people in the world and, just like everything else, they’ll get through this too. And they’ll be smiling while they do so.