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Post 360: Waters rising .....

Bangkok Floods 2011 ...

Crossing the International Date Line really screws up the body-clock. I know that midway across the Pacific Ocean I lost a full day of my life, but this morning Google Clocks told me that it's now Saturday 29th of October 2011 ...... and I was convinced that it was still Friday. Anyway, no matter what day it is, there was an interesting sight in the car park this morning. As I mentioned earlier, the only 'High Ground' in Bangkok is man made and when all of the existing high ground has already been taken, you have to create your own .... and the owner of this little Mira car has done just that.

I wandered down the Soi and found a delicious bowl of 'kow dtom gai' for breakfast (Rice & Chicken Soup). At 7am it's already warmer than an English summer day and there's something weirdly comforting about eating hot spicy food for breakfast. On the street, small fountains of water bubbled up from the drains and trickled down the side gully. Builders were busy constructing temporary walls with cinder blocks and cement at the entrances to shops. For 7am Lak Si was busy, and all of the busyness seemed to have a single purpose .... preparation for flood. 
I crossed the Lak Si Canal and noticed that the ramshackle residences that line its towpath were within inches of becoming submerged. Normally these dwellings sit a few feet above the water but today they're kissing its surface. The waters are moving in my direction and there's absolutely nothing that I can do to prevent it. Nature is unstoppable, so bend with it or break.

At Wat Lak Si, the waters had arrived before me. The individual buildings were now islands in a sea of tranquility. Monks and worshippers paddled between them but life seemed to be continuing as normal. The complex of buildings that form the Temple were constructed using traditional methods and design. Rooms stand on stilts and the areas below them are concrete, designed specifically to minimise damage and disruption in times of flooding. Monsoon rains and subsequent flooding are not a new phenomena  here in Bangkok, but the development of 'Western' style buildings is. If the floods do arrive then the Temple will be virtually unaffected, but those Thai's who chased the 'Western Dream' and built their 'two-up two-down' houses will probably have ample time to reflect on their folly .... mai pen rai kap   

Walking North, the narrow lanes running between the high density residences that sprang up during the rapid growth of Bangkok during the 60's and 70's were already running with water. I stood watching an elegant lady using a large white bucket to empty water from her home. Her efforts were futile but perhaps the simple act of acting in some way helped her to deal with the situation.

A little deeper into the narrow lanes and the water levels were higher. Residents were doing what they could but seemed resigned to the fact that the water would win. They moved furniture and belongings into the roof space above their humble dwellings and prepared to become prisoners in their own homes.

The previous day, or perhaps it was two days ago, I'd crossed this road using the footbridge. I'd used the footbridge because the traffic had been so dense that walking across it at ground level would have been impossible. Today, the only vehicle on this road is a rowing boat. The monks at the temple were right ..... I'm now living on the Island of Lak Si.

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