Bangkok Floods – Flooding is Devastating Bangkok & Thailand

We’re having trouble getting certain items of food. Gasoline – 91 Octane, is in short supply often. What we’re experiencing as a result of the Bangkok floods is literally “nothing” compared to what those that are there – and going through it.

Many people say foreigners don’t care about Thais and Thailand – but, I think it’s QUITE wrong. I think foreign expats living in Thailand love the country on the whole – and want only the best for Thais. It’s hard to see why the Thai government expends a lot of effort to make living here more difficult for us year after year.

Here is a video – a story about something that happened yesterday to a local expat. He’s Australian and has been living in Thailand about 7 years now. He speaks fluent Thai. He obviously loves Thailand and the Thai people quite a bit. He evacuated from his condo and has found a place to go. There are many people in Bangkok that don’t even know where to go.

The national parks that are not affected by the floodwaters, are offering free places to stay for those that need to escape the floodwaters. Tell anyone you know to help spread the word.

Bangkok, Thailand Flood 2011 – Video

An overview about why the flood happened in Thailand. Really simplifies it without laying blame on anyone for what has happened. At the moment the flood is threatening to put Bangkok under up to 1.5m (about 5 feet) of water as long as the levees in place are able to hold back the water and authorities can release it gradually.

If the levees break – there will be a flash flood, a true worst-case scenario.

Here’s the flood video:

Flooding Above Bangkok, Thailand – NASA Satellite Photos

Current water situation - 2011 north of Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok and north - current water situation, October 19, 2011. Water is blue.
2008 water in Thailand.
Same area of Bangkok and north on November 12, 2008.

These are shots from NASA using infrared and regular shots of the same area of Thailand – north of Bangkok where the current flooding is. The water is colored blue, while the trees and other plant life are green. The city – concrete, is earth toned. I’ve been looking for a while for a decent satellite photo to show the flooding problem in Bangkok – and this sums up what the city is facing. Looks like lakes north of Bangkok.

Some people have written me about what to do with the snake problem where there are floods. Stay away from all snakes, it is impossible for me to tell you what to look for to identify venomous snakes in Thailand because there are just too many. Some guess 100+ species. Venomous snakes come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Just avoid all snakes as much as possible. Sorry I can’t give you anything better to go on.

Looks like a serious problem in Thailand with these floods. Nikon is reporting new camera delays. Locally we are running out of baby powder for food. Some stores are low on water because most of it comes from up Bangkok way apparently.

Bangkok Flooding

There are conflicting statements coming out of many different mouths regarding the Bangkok flooding that will or won’t take place. It’s safe to say, we cannot take anything heard as fact – and it won’t all the sudden clear up and we’ll start getting good information.

I know little about flooding in the north – haven’t really been there. We said we’d go see Chiang Mai, Tak, Ayuddya and other places north of Bangkok someday – and we will, but now we are sure it won’t be during the rainy season. Every year the north floods to some degree and yet this year it appears to be different.

Was there that much more rain?

We’re only in mid-October. I don’t know if anybody remembers last year, but it rained through November and most of December here in the south anyway. What did it do in the north last year, I can’t say. I didn’t pay any attention.

Will it rain for a couple more months north of Bangkok? You could consider Bangkok to be in serious trouble if that happened.

While hoping for the best, I’m not optimistic that Bangkok won’t be totally devastated by the flood waters in the next couple of hours, days, or weeks.

If you have a dry place – offer your Bangkokian friends a dry place to stay for a few weeks until the major threat passes. If you live in Bangkok – the south is a nice place to be this time of year… few tourists and cool weather. We’ve had about half dry and half wet days here over the past 2 weeks. Really hoping the rain is about done here too.

Good luck to those of you in Bangkok that choose to stay and get through it.

Check out Twitter if you are interested in some of the latest updates coming out about the state of the Bangkok floods.

People to follow on Twitter are:

TAN_Network
bangkokpundit
RichardBarrow

Thailand’s Red Shirts, Thaksin, Military

I spent today with the TV running – which, though I hate it – I’ve found it invaluable to keep up with what’s going on with the red shirt protests in Thailand. TV news here has been dumbed down and is on a serious delay – hours or tens of hours in some cases.

Some say that the media is controlled by the Yellow shirts – who don’t have a real interest in reporting the red shirt protests except in a negative way – biased. I can go for that. The news I”m able to see on Thailand TV on ASTV, Asian News Channel and other Thai channels are pretty lame.

Twitter!
If you’re very interested in what’s going on in Thailand or even anywhere in the world you best shot at this is Twitter. Now is the time to get to know Twitter because it’s a hell of a news source. I’ll create another post somewhere and link to it from this one to show you how to use Twitter to follow the goings on – breaking news in Thailand -and you can generalize the info to apply it to finding out about ANY breaking news event in the world. It’s an AMAZING tool. The entire world should be using it. Anyway, more on that later.

Red Shirts
So – recently the red shirts have crashed the Royal Cliff Hotel in Pattaya and caused the leaders of Asian countries to escape by helicopter from the rooftop. They’ve parked gasoline trucks in residential areas with the idea that they would blow them up – I heard. Not sure if that’s true. If true that is more akin to terrorism than just protesting the government and wanting it to change.

They’ve hijacked about 30 city buses and parked them places to block the roads and set their tires on fire – some say to negate the effects of tear gas police might fire, others say – which I find much more likely, they ignite the fires to make it much harder for the police to move the buses.

Rumors!
Rumors run crazy in times like this – on Twitter I heard that the Thai government was ORDERING Americans to leave the country immediately. This same idiot on Twitter also said there was mass food poisoning in Singapore – though I found nothing about that on CNN, BBC, or elsewhere. I didn’t look again – that was about 6 hours ago.

So, everything that comes across Twitter is not the complete truth – like no news source is.

Thai Military
The military was promising to keep control of Bangkok, and so far that’s not been realized at 6:30pm Monday evening, the first day of Songkran, Thai New Year 2052.

The military was videotaped shooting at protesters – and military authorities said they were using blanks – packed paper bullets in that case. They were also seen firing their automatic weapons into the air – and they say – these were real bullets. Then there were seen on tv and in photos online (linked to from Twitter users) that show clearly some red shirt protesters with serious wounds – some said they were absolutely bullet wounds.

Expats in Thailand
Many foreigners have taken sides in the situation – most, surprising to me – seem to favor Thaksin and the red shirts. Apparently they can overlook everything that’s been said negatively about the guy. Corruption seems to be embedded in the government – no matter who is in charge. There may be 50 more years of corruption here before that kind of thing changes.

Anyone think it can happen sooner?

The current government may or may not have a right to be in power. Another election isn’t going to resolve anything at all. There is no good alternative, nor will there be – for about 50 years in my guess. Why 50? I’m not sure, I think when the current crop of politicians all die off and the next generation, or the next is growing up in this amazing place – someway, somehow it’s all going to move toward less corruption. Maybe they’ve got another 100 years or more.

Thaksin
Thaksin was rumored to be staying in a resort on Ko Chang. I think that’s a rumor, who knows. I’d believe anything about him – he’s pretty resourceful. I think it’s more likely he’s pulling the strings from far away until he knows whether this red shirt effort will be successful. Most Thais I know and have talked to about this believe Thaksin is pulling out all the stops to try to save his 2 billion USD locked up in Thailand by the current government. Sounds like a good reason.

Will the country be better under Thaksin? The country is pretty seriously divided between those that hate him and those that love him. Way too divided to ever agree he should rule – even if by majority of the voting population he’s elected. The group that hates him wouldn’t let that stand. Looks like the group that loves him won’t let Abhisit stand as PM either. I’ve no affinity toward either one. Educated Thais seem to have taken the yellow shirts side, and support Abhisit. Many think he’s the best chance for the country. Maybe he’s the better choice of the two – but, in an election – would he be chosen?

It’s amazing to me that Thaksin, with more money than god – can have the poorest people in the entire country fighting in his name. The wrongs don’t matter to those that love him because he DID make their lives better. For once someone seemed to care about farmers and poor in the northeast region. They didn’t forget it – they’re ready to die for this cause – many are saying on TV.

You can be sure that, if Thaksin gets another chance at an election and actually WINS – he’s going to solidify his position there. The guy is a brilliant player in Thai society – you’ve gotta give him that.

So – that’s the situation. I don’t side with either group – any group. I don’t see anyone that deserves to rule the country at this point. I don’t see anyone – any person or any group that has Thailand’s best interests at heart. That’s what Thailand needs. Not more of the same corrupt politicians.

Do you see anyone that’s fit to rule Thailand?

Joe, an American inside Suvarnabhumi, Joins PAD

I’m watching some American clown on Thai PAD TV named Joe. A “marine” from Boston, Mass. in the states. Quoting John F. Kennedy… telling PAD at Suvarnabhumi Airport they should continue to fight for Democracy and independence.

Apparently he’s the only foreigner in the airport – and he just stood up in front of the whole group on a microphone to tell them he loves Thai’s and he loves the King. A woman asked what he wanted to say to HM the King…I cringed… he said, POM LA RAK Si Luang or something like that. Nobody said a word. He tried again. Silence. The woman told the audience what he said…

He’s wearing a yellow shirt and headband.

One of first things he said to the crowd that he has been “sleeping with all you people”. He then went on to explain he’s been talking with many people there at the airport about the corruption in government and that Thaksin was the head of it. He went on and on… warning them against violence…

Then he said, there’s only 2 ways he’s leaving the airport:

1. He gets dragged out, forcibly removed.

2. The airport opens. He is NOT leaving until he can fly out of the Suvarnabhumi Airport he insists.

Jesus… It’s time like these that you’ve gotta question Americans getting involved in things they don’t understand. The guy doesn’t speak Thai – though he tried, so he’s not been in-country long enough to not make an idiot out himself… Oh well. He sat down now – almost 10 minutes standing up making the whole group uncomfortable. I thought it was a teacher, “Mark” that I worked with at one time – that would have been great.

Why is it always an American?

Is Bangkok Dangerous?

Many people are writing to ask me if Bangkok is dangerous at this point.

That’s a big – YES.

Should you continue with your plans to come to Bangkok during 2008? At this point I’d say no, just cancel plans, it’s too dangerous. If you’re going to lose your life savings – then up to you. Bangkok isn’t a playground without danger lately and most say it will get worse as PAD has upped the ante with a takeover of the other Bangkok Airport – Don Muang as of midnight last night. Bangkok airports are dangerous now.

Maybe later the train station and bus stations will be affected too? Whose to say? Anything can happen at this point in Bangkok as it gets more and more dangerous.

Bangkok isn’t dangerous in the sense that you’re going to be sought-out as a specific target for pro- or anti-government protestors (PAD) but, the possibility of being in the wrong place at a dangerous time does exist.

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and as such this is where demonstrations are held between groups that wish to sway the government or replace the government as is the present movement’s goal.

Is being in Bangkok dangerous for those of you passing through on the train or buses? I’d still have to say – yes, right now – it’s a bit dangerous. Maybe Chiang Mai is dangerous too. A pro-government group there pulled a radio station owner out of his car and executed him – presumably for allowing anti-government talk on his station. Chiang Mai was dangerous for him.

The chance of being caught in cross-fire or a stampede if the military or police are forced to take action isn’t anything you probably want to experience.

Bangkok is dangerous through 2008 as far as I can see. Cancel your plans through December, wait and see if January is going to be any better.

For a current state of the country – see the ultimate Thailand Guide – Thai Black Book – your guide to staying safe in Thailand

Thai Black Book information site- >

Suvarnabhumi Airport Closed and Bombs Exploding

Apparently 3 or 4 bombs have gone off (conflicting reports) at the airport and there are still 3,000 travelers stranded at the airport, some 7,000 of them being transferred to Don Muang Airport. Numerous reports of grenades being thrown into the crowds of protesters are also being reported.

Australia, Malaysia and Russia are the latest countries to issue travel warnings for Thailand. Singapore Airlines have canceled all flights to TH.

The current Thai PM is said to be in Thailand already by some, and others say he’s arriving this evening by Peru, flying to Chiang Mai, and then back to Bangkok in a military jet where he’ll hold a meeting to declare the state of emergency. He will declare a state of emergency because PAD (People’s Alliance for Democracy) is shutting down the country, as he called it.

When that happens the police and military will be mobilized to take control of government buildings taken over by PAD. Military leaders have continually denied plans for a coup.

I’d say today wouldn’t be a good time to come to Thailand. Arrivals are being taken at Don Muang Airport, after being redirected from Suvarnabhumi. There are no flights leaving Suvarnabhumi as far as I’ve heard this morning.

If you’re still coming to Thailand – and some of you WILL, I know… be prepared for lengthy delays, and possible danger in the streets as the people of Bangkok that oppose all the commotion caused by PAD may begin fighting back. PAD may also step up the drama before the state of emergency is declared.

Meanwhile Thaksin has been “banned” from calling in during this crisis, but vows to return to politics because the people need him to get Thailand back on track! That’s what he said anyway.

Is that what Thailand needs, Thaksin to return to get the country going again?

I think he’d need to worry about someone taking him out as the opposition is furious at him (finally) for corruption displayed on so many levels and his refusal to even acknowledge that he did anything wrong.

What do I think will happen? Hmm. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that in the next few months – Thaksin returns, the economy gets better – a little better, and then nearly everyone overlooks his transgressions in the short-term because the country is doing better economically and he’s playing it pretty straight from now forward. I think he’s had a good scare being in the UK and then being rejected. He’s living in Dubai for god’s sakes. I think when he comes back – and he will, that he’ll be Thailand’s savior… at least in the short-term and at least according to appearances.

Thais don’t have this strong idea that people need to really pay for their transgressions – once they’re known to the public the charges – the implementation of any punishment usually just sort of goes away – unless you’re a drug dealer. So, unless Thaksin brings back a planeload of cocaine I think he’s going to be the leader again and not suffer and real consequences for his past actions at all.

What do you think?

(anonymous comments not published)

Is Thailand Safe to Visit Now?

I have a friend working with TAT, you may know him – he’s a well known expat and writer. He’s been working with them to try to dispel the myth that Thailand is unsafe at the present time for visitors because of the political situation. He’s helping to create videos for them and marketing to Europeans, Japanese and everyone else that Thailand is safe for visitors as we start the regular visitor high season.

I’m a member of a few travel boards where people regularly ask questions about whether it’s safe to go here or there. Lately everyone is asking the same question – is Thailand safe to visit now?

Is Thailand safe for visitors now?

Here is a book that talks all about how to stay safe in Thailand during your stay:

Thai Black Book

Here are a few reasons I think it’s safe enough for visitors:

1. I’m completely unaffected by anything happening in Bangkok. If people are dying in clashes there with police – that doesn’t have a trickle down effect causing the rest of the country to be unsafe. In fact, I’d say only if you’re taking part in the demonstration in Bangkok, are you at risk of injury or death. If you’re coming here to visit you’ll be OK. If you’re coming to revolt against the government and incite Thais to rioting on a mass scale, you might be in danger.

2. The entire country – outside of Bangkok is unaffected by anything happening in Bangkok. The rest of the country will continue to remain safe – even though Bangkok might get tense.

3. This is a Thai political problem. Thais have nothing against foreigners. They love you. They want you to come. They don’t want you to have problems once you get here. You will not be accosted to confess your political beliefs about the current system, Taksin, or anything else. You’re not involved in any way. This has nothing to do with the terrorists in the south.

4. Even at the height of the airport protests in the few major airports there really wasn’t a problem with violence at all. Airports were blocked. So, you extend a few days. That’s the extent of the issue in areas outside Bangkok. Nobody is going to throw a brick at your head if you go near the Phuket Airport during a demonstration. Thais are afraid of the police and military. As a group they very rarely get violent first, they have quite peaceful demonstrations.

Is Thailand safe to visit during this political instability?

Yes. That’s the right answer with a few qualifiers…

Don’t take part in demonstrations.

Don’t spend your vacation in Bangkok – get out and see the rest of the country which is infinitely more enjoyable than Bangkok’s crowded streets anyway.

Stay away from the deep south. Krabi, Lanta, Trang are all fine. Thais say that even down into Songkla is fine. I wouldn’t say that, but down to Trang is perfectly fine.

Recently 10 countries issued fresh warnings about traveling to Thailand during this time including UK, Sweden, Germany, Canada and others. (Not USA). I think you’re fine to come, AND bring your family. Mai pen rai the whole thing – it’s not affecting the country as a whole. If it does- then delay your trip. Right now – business as usual everywhere outside Bangkok.

If you’re really concerned about visiting or staying in Thailand long term – get the ultimate Thailand Guide:

Thai Black Book