Bangkok Flooding 2011: Bangkok's transformation during the flood

Bangkok has transformed itself into a walled and sandbagged city, a nervous wreck of its former glory. Here are some of the ways it has chan...

Bangkok has transformed itself into a walled and sandbagged city, a nervous wreck of its former glory. Here are some of the ways it has changed in the months during and before the floods wrecked havoc.

By Karn G. Bulsuk


Link: More on the 2011 Bangkok Floods
For some, the floods have arrived in Bangkok, for others, it was an agonizing wait for the inevitable. In the weeks past Bangkok has transformed itself into a city of sandbags resembling a warzone sans machine guns, empty shelves and nervous residents.

An endangered species
Like bottled water and canned food, taxis have become a scarce commodity. In a city where you are never more than five minutes away from a taxi, their distinctive yellow-green, bright blue, or neon pink colours are a part and parcel of any traffic.

In the past few weeks, around 50% of taxis have stopped running as their drivers have either gone back home up country to escape the floods, or as taxi companies park their entire fleets on elevated freeways to keep their vehicles safe.

Restaurants have also been heavily affected, as many have their central kitchens located in industrial estates which is now basically a modern Atlantis. Hachiban Ramen was one of the first to be affected by the destruction of their central kitchen, and closed down all their shops throughout the Kingdom until further notice, while other restaurants, such as MK, have been forced to remove items off their menu.

Hachiban Ramen was one of the first victims when the industrial estates in Ayuthaya flooded.

Even many street hawkers have seem to have disappeared off the street. While it does make the pavement easier to walk on, one of the distinguishing features of Bangkok are the hawkers selling everything from fried chicken to orange juice. The absence just adds to the eerie sense of unease floating around the city right now.

Bangkok's elevated expressways which criss-cross the city have also become a refuge for cars of all sorts and sizes. From the old humble Toyota Corolla to even brand new BMW Series 5 with red plates, people have decided to permanently park their cars along the shoulder of the freeway. One the way to Subarmubhumi Airport, you'll notice that Metro Bus has parked over two dozen of their buses there - surely they could have found somewhere better?

While this is obviously convenient for car owners, it has exacerbation the traffic problem that Bangkok is infamous for. The police are powerless to do anything. It would be impossible to tow away the thousands of cars that are now lining the side of the freeways like dots on a ruler, and even if they did, there would be no where to put them.

Cars double parked on the freeway, as their owners try to save them from the floods.
And who of course, could forget the empty shelves? Everywhere from 7-Eleven to Gourmet Market at K-Village, essentials like bottled water, canned food and tissues have been snapped up in anticipation of shortages, which, of course, have made the shortage problem even worse. Malls too are unusually quiet even during weekends, as many Bangkokians are now flooded or have fled the city to places like Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Hua Hin.

The changes that Bangkok has undergone during these difficult times will leave a mark on the psyche of the city. Never again will this generation forget the suffering of flooding which is normally inflicted those outside Bangkok. It is a wake up call, a humbling reminder that we're all in the same boat together, and that only by working together will such devastation be committed to only the annuals of history.

Link: Read more on the 2011 Bangkok Floods


Photo credit: Yan Pritzker


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Karn Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead: Bangkok Flooding 2011: Bangkok's transformation during the flood
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Karn Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead
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