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Stop for a moment

THAILAND | Saturday, 29 October 2011 | Views [832]

It’s quiet. People are calm. At first look a traveler would say everything looks normal. Food stalls on the streets are selling their delicious dishes. People are smiling and doing their chores. Dogs sleep on the street. Tuk tuk driver is offering a ride. When you look closer you notice that the shops are closed. There are not many people on the streets. In 7/11 the shelves are empty. Sandbags surround the empty shops and someone is building a meter high brick wall around their shop. It is too calm in this 24 hours buzzing city of Bangkok.

Everyone knows the water is there. Everyone knows it is coming. No one knows exactly when or how bad it will be but everyone knows it will come. There is nothing anyone can do to avoid it. The only way is to be prepared.

I didn’t know. I had heard about the floods up north but honestly I didn’t know. I hadn’t even realized that it could happen. There wasn’t even a single doubt in my mind that the trains wouldn’t be running or I couldn’t get water from 7/11.

I got the night train from Surat Thani to Bangkok. The train was three hours late. I had been traveling since morning so I was tired and quite happy that I could sleep on the train and not arrive in Bangkok on time at 6.30 but few hours later instead. Nothing had prepared me what I was about to see when arriving in Bangkok. First there was a bit of water on the train tracks next to ours. Then there were more water and I couldn’t see the tracks anymore. Then there were people in canoes. There were people on anything that would float. Water had taken over houses and people had moved into shackles that they had build on a bridge. At first I thought they were slums but then I realized that these people had had to leave their homes and were now living in these boxes made out of corrugated iron. I saw children, business men, office ladies, old people and entire families living their lives and surviving. It is very hard to describe the feelings that went through me seeing everything so close. I was shocked, sad, worried, scared and just speechless.

And the worst part is that I know I have only seen a glimpse of it. That it had been and it would be worse. I was upset about my travel plans but these people had lost their homes their livelihoods and some of them their lives. Things would never be the same. I was safe in the train but worried about my safety. To be honest, I was scared. What if I couldn’t get out?

I haven’t seen any water on the streets after arriving in Bangkok. The metro, skytrain, busses and trains seem to work normally. I went to the railway station to make sure I could take the train to Aranya Prathet, the border of Cambodia tomorrow and the lady on the information desk looked at me like I had just asked her if the world is round. I wasn’t completely convinced and I asked someone else but I got the same answer. I asked about the floods and they told me “no floods”. I’m not sure whether it’s denial or acceptance but everyone is acting like there is nothing to be worried about or to be afraid of.

I have to say I admire them. My first thought was to get out of the city as soon as I can but the calmness of the Thai people has given me some peace of mind. I won’t die. I’ll be ok. I am not brave enough to stay and I have the option to leave so I will. But for the sake of the people that don't have that option I hope that it is not going to be as bad as the tv news let us to believe

Tags: bangkok, floods

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