Escape from Bangkok – Running Away From the Thailand Floods

After 10 days of trying to ignore the approaching floods I finally decided to do something. I’ve taken my family out of Bangkok, and we are now staying in a hotel in Jomtien. Our housing estate had turned into a ghost town, and those few people who stayed behind were all a lot better prepared than we were. I think my wife did a great job building a cement wall to protect the house, but I just wasn’t convinced that it would be enough. We contacted an emergency number in Minburi yesterday morning, and they told us to prepare for at least 1.2 meters of water later that day. This would have submerged our car and left us stuck on the top floor of the house.

Ignoring the Floods is a Dangerous Gamble

I’m a more responsible person now than I was in my drinking days, but I’m far from perfect. I would say that the most damaging of my personality flaws is the tendency to ignore problems. When something goes wrong I just try to pretend it isn’t happening. My stress levels go through the roof, but I do not take the necessary action that would remedy the situation. I wait until the problem reaches a point where it is impossible to ignore (see my previous post here for another example of this tendency).

When my wife warned me of the approaching floods my initial reaction was to play down her fears. We had a lot of flooding a few weeks ago, but it didn’t cross the barrier of our home. I did begin watching the Thai news reports about the current situation, and this convinced me that things could get really bad for us. Still I felt completely unable to make any decision about how we should prepare. To be honest, I felt irritated every time my wife mentioned it – thankfully I managed to hide this irritation.

During my years as a nurse I became good at keeping a clear head in the midst of emergency situations, but when it came to my own family’s safety this clarity wasn’t there. This is why Oa ended up building the flood wall, and why I failed to move the car to higher ground earlier. It is also why I didn’t buy sandbags when we had the chance. My only reaction to the approaching devastation was to take a few photos and write about it on my blog.

Escape from Bangkok

The reality of getting my family trapped in the floods and losing the car finally hit me yesterday. I realised that sitting there passively was not only unwise but also irresponsible. Many people do not have the choice pack up and leave, but we did. Staying in a hotel for a few days is a bit of a financial hardship, but it is nothing compared to what other people are losing. It will be sad if the belongings we left behind are lost to the water but everything is replaceable. In some parts of Thailand people have lost everything – there have also been over 300 people who lost the precious gift of life.

We contacted one of the few remaining people who have stayed behind in our housing estate. The high floods have still not come to our area. It may turn out that abandoning Bangkok was unnecessary, but it was the responsible thing to do for my family.

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18 thoughts on “Escape from Bangkok – Running Away From the Thailand Floods

  1. It’s great you got out, good going. You did really well. I hope the water doesn’t rise too much and your home is safe. 300 people already dead, wow, that’s sad. I saw this story on Japanese news today. It’s in the papers here too. I hope it subsides soon and you can go back to your life. Well done for acting as you did and getting out. It sounds like your wife had things worked out.

  2. Very good article. I feel the exact same way and am taking my wife and son to pattaya tomorrow. Thought of staying to defend the house, we have sandbags and a wall built as well…..but just doesn’t feel right. My son is a year old and he would be in agony if we got stuck with no electricity and filthy water a floor below us. Nice to know other people feel the stress and have/had a similar plan of action. Worth the financial sacrifice for sure.

  3. Hi Paul,

    Good luck and enjoy Jomtien as good as you can. Hope that upon returning home all will be fine without major losses!

    In Southern Thailand the shelves in the shops slowly start to empty out, nothing compared to what you guys are facing!

  4. Paul, I hope you and your family can return home soon and the damage isn’t too bad. Like you say, possessions can be replaced, but your family can’t. Wishing you and your family all the best. Good luck to Mike and his family too.

  5. Paul, I am very glad you have taken this step. Since Gaddafi was killed I turned on the TV news only to see all the floods in Bangkok looking so much worse than in sounded in your previous blog posts. I saw even more today. I was really worried about you and your family. I think you have most definitely taken the wisest course of action. I think life is less about what we’ve done in the past than what we have learned from that and can take into the future. We all have to progress on from where we are and you appear to be doing that. I’m glad your family is in a safe place now. Reading your posts the past few weeks, leading up to what I’m seeing on the TV now makes me feel much more interested in watching this on the news since I now feel I have a friend there!


    1. Hi Lynne, things have deteriorated here quite badly. I knew that the situation in other parts of the country had become disastrous, but it took me a bit of time to appreciate that the devastation was coming my way.

      1. Someone gave me some good advice (not purposely, but it turned out to be so) and I have found it really helps me with difficulties.

        No matter what our difficulties, when we tend to be focusing on what we are losing/what we have lost, it helps tremendously to instead focus on what we are grateful for.

        You may have just saved the life of your family by moving to higher ground and no matter what happens, at least you are alive and together.

        I hope the best for your home and car and my thoughts are with you every day.

  6. Hi Paul,

    It’s good to hear that now you and your family are in the safe place. My family and I are still going to work and stay at home as usual although there’s a report telling us that our area might be the next to be flooded.

    I hate a feeling like this to wait and gamble with the disaster. But if we moved out of the house, we cannot imagine where to go. Our relatives are in Chiang Mai and we dont think we can make it there. It’s hard to just abandon everything behind … everything i’ve been living with for ten years.

    My family hasn’t even prepared the sandbags cos we think whatever will be, it will be. I’m worried of my house, my factory and my friends but anyway, it’s nothing compared to those who have lost everything.

    Hope you will be safe and your house too.

  7. Paul, you’ve done the right thing. Apart from the obvious safety issues, you now have peace of mind. We, however, couldn’t have picked a worse time to transit via BKK on our return trip home…fingers crossed and stay dry and safe.

  8. Paul, I’m supposed to be arriving in Thailand from the U.K on the 4 November.

    Help!!! When I arrive at the airport where should I go??? What town province. It’s hard for me to get on the ground info over here.

    1. Hi Mark, I drove past the airport yesterday and the roads were all clear going away from Bangkok. I think can also get flights from Suwanaphumi directly to Koh Samui; you will probably need to book before you arrive. The flood situation is changing all the time and a lot could happen between now and the 4th October; they are expecting it to continue to be a problem for another six weeks. You will need to keep checking. I would advise that you start following the situation on Twitter; use the hash tag #thaifloodeng

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