The Heavens are Telling

Unlike the UK with its spring, summer, autumn, winter, Thailand has three seasons: the impossibly hot season, the impossibly hot season, and the impossibly hot season – though to Thais these are: the hot season, the wet season and the cold season. Precisely how temperatures in the 30s can be seen as “cold” is rather beyond me. Anyway, this year the wet season is lasting a bit longer than usual, and has produced pretty terrible flooding.

The flooding starts in the north, and the water then passes down the major rivers towards Bangkok. On the way, Ayutthaya has been badly hit. A major temple, Wat Chai Wattanaram, has been under water for almost a week now.

Wat Chai Wattanaram flooded

A minor temple, well inland, is also inundated.

Wat Lokeyasutha flooded

The local government hospital has been evacuated, being more than 2 metres under water.

In fact, about 10% of Ayutthaya island is currently inundated.

The Asia Highway (AH2), a major arterial route running from Singapore, through Malaysia, through Thailand to Burma, then connecting on to Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal, has been flooded only a few hundred metres from my former home. The ensuing traffic jam was more than 10 km long. Many vehicles have been abandoned to the waters.

***

The personal cost can be high. My first Thai teacher, Bum, and her husband build a house to the north of Ayutthaya. Before they bought the land I went with her husband to survey the area. We noted the high tide marks from then recent severe flooding on nearby properties. The decision was made to raise the ground level of the plot by a couple of metres. That should be enough, or so we thought.

And so it was, last year, when there was bad flooding. The waters lapped at the gateway, but the house itself was safe.

Not so this year. The waters have risen so that the ground floor is flooded to well over a metre. (The photo was taken at the early stages of the flooding.)

Bum's home flooded, Ayutthaya

Again, an earlier photo. The car is now totally submerged. No chance to take it to higher ground, the waters rose too fast.

Bum's home flooded, Ayutthaya

Bum’s husband was away at the time, and Bum and daughters have since been rescued by boat and are fine, staying with friends for the timebeing.

Ben, the family dog, however, had to be left behind when the family was rescued. He’s now alone living on the roof. He’s got enough food and water for a few days. Whisky and I just pray he’ll be OK.

***

And as for Bangkok, as I drove to Tesco-Lotus yesterday there were parts of the road flooded axle-deep. Local klongs have burst their bank, and the drainage system struggles to deal with the run-off.

It’s probably another week or so before the worst of the run-off from t’north reaches us here. The situation is unprecedented. I don’t know what to expect, but remain fearful.

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