For the last few days my family has been living out of a suitcase. We spent the weekend in the beach resort of Jomtien, but as the floods show no signs of abating we moved back near my wife’s village in Phitsanulok. As far as we know all our neighbours have now abandoned our housing estate. By Sunday the water level was above waist level – in some parts of the estate it was chest level. We are so lucky to have made it out of Minburi in the car – if we had waited even one more hour the road out of our estate would have been impassable.
Terrifying Escape from Minburi
In my last post I mentioned how the floods caught us by surprise. We had been warned for weeks that the water were about to hit our area, but I’d stopped taking these reports too seriously. The week before we had abandoned our home when the authorities warned that our estate would be inundated with water within five hours – it never happened. So when the floods came last Thursday I decided to wait it out. The water level was rising alarmingly fast throughout the day, but we had been told that it was unlikely to go above half a metre. I battled with indecision, and it was already dark by the time my wife and I decided to once again abandon ship.
Driving out of our estate turned out to be the stuff of nightmares. I’ve driven through floods before but not when it is pitch dark outside – I will never do this again. The water began leaking into the car, and the engine began making struggling noises. I’m convinced that the motor would have packed up completely if we had not hit dry land when we did. Once again the plastic covering underneath the car had come off because of the pull of the water – it was dragging on the ground. I then had the unpleasant task of climbing into the mud so that I could get under the car to fix it back.
Flood Break in Jomtien
We were lucky to find a hotel in Jomtien that still had rooms. We spent the next couple of days looking for a cheaper place to stay, but the area is packed to the rafters with guests. Some entrepreneurs are making a nice profit from other people’s misery. I spoke to one foreigner who rents out apartments in Jomtien, and he wanted to charge us triple his normal rate for a two week stay. My wife managed to hunt down another studio apartment for rent at a reasonable price but they wanted to double this when they found out that she was married to a foreigner. One of the other nasty practices that is going on is that the local hotels and bars are buying up all the bottled water – as soon as a shop gets a delivery they seem to be there waiting. They can then sell this water for at least double the shop price. I think these floods have brought out the best and the worst in human nature.
Back to Rural Phitsanulok
The floods show no signs of disappearing from Bangkok anytime soon, and there was no way that we could afford to stay where we were. On Monday I decided to drive all the way to my wife’s village in Phitsanulok. It turned out to be a thirteen hour journey because I needed to avoid flooded roads. I actually had blisters on the sole of my right foot by the time we arrived here from pressing the car pedals repetitively for that long.
It is nice to be back here in Chat Trakan – there is now a reassuringly long distance between us and the floods of Bangkok. This is where my son was born, and where I lived here for five years – the longest I stayed anywhere as an adult. This area had its own flood nightmares this rainy season, but the water receded weeks ago. I worry about our remaining belongings back in Minburi, but it will probably be a couple of weeks before we can go back to see the damage. The main thing is that we are all safe and dry.