16 October 2011


Thailand is currently experiencing its worst flooding in living memory. The ancient capital of Ayutthaya is inundated. Above you can see Buddhist monks in their familiar saffron robes wading down the main street. Heaven knows what damage will have been done to the various irreplaceable archaeological wonders that Shirley and I saw there in March.

One evening, lower down the Chao Praya river in the Bangkok suburb of Nontaburi, we enjoyed a lovely meal with the owners of my lodging house - Sataporn and Thida. The beautiful and newly built house overlooked the river which is wide and deep even in the driest of seasons. I remember asking Sataporn about the possibility of flooding. He pointed out that before erecting his designer house, he had had a sort of concrete tank wall built that was a full metre above the usual flood level. The house sat within the bounds of that concrete wall and Sataporn was quietly confident they'd never be in trouble. However, given recent news from Bangkok I rather suspect his confidence will have been unfounded.

A bizarre news titbit I spotted earlier today was Primeminister Yingluck's announcement that a fleet of a thousand boats would sit upon the river with engines churning to assist water drainage when the high tide from the Gulf of Thailand met the river's floodwaters.

Much of Thailand is low-lying and when you fly over it you see fishponds, paddy fields, lakes and drainage ditches glinting in the sunshine. A lot of this retained water is partly down to regular heavy tropical rainfall but the main river network connects with the mountains of Burma and the Tibetan plateau.

At least three hundred people have died in the current floods - many through electrocution. Factory production has ground to a halt in various locations and tragically much of the nation's vital rice crop will have been ruined. Thailand is usually the world's number one rice exporter but perhaps not this year.

Calling my Bangkok reporter - Mr Booth! Mr Booth! Come in please. How do things look from your perspective?
On Sunday - Bangkok motor boats fighting the floodwaters


  1. Living where I do, between a river and a creek, I shudder at pictures like this. Sacramento is one of the most flood prone cities in the U.S., but there are lots of people who moved here from other places who don't understand what that means. They're sitting behind the levees, like your friend in Thailand behind his little concrete wall, thinking all is good. It's just a matter of time, isn't it?

  2. I also heard that bit about them sitting in the river with their engines running to 'assist the floodwaters to leave' or something. It sounded as improbable as that whirlwind from southern Morrocco, the aajej, against which the fellahin used to defend themselves with knives...

  3. I'll try to make a better fist of it than that career hungry cow- Rachel Harvey.

    We both wait on tenterhooks for the weekend 22-23/10 when Ms Yingluck opens the floodgates, literally.

    We had to wade through pestilent water last Friday when the first deluge of rainfall came- but it was gone the next day.

    School is closed on Monday and I guess we'll have to look at the extent of the damage before we resume teaching and learning.

    The Don Mueng district will be hit as it now seems impossible that none of Bangkok will escape.

    We have recently been in Hong Kong so have not managed to watch/listen to blow by blow accounts.

    Like Stabborn and Thida we will watch it all from our 15th floor ivory tower, as will the kids at school no doubt.

    The ones hardest hit will be the poor folk living along the canals- 'light a candle if you need rescuing' is the latest line.

    Who can you believe? Not the government or Ms (definitely Ms) Harvey of the constantly degrading BBC.

    How this country has survived financially and not been in recession yet- near civil war in 2009 and now this- is beyond us.

    Probably because there's very little that the country actually pays for?

    This is Bangkok Boothys for the YPBC Evening News, Bangkok

  4. I won't say much for fear of spoiling your page, but please read my last post...


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