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I went for a wander further around Sukhumvit and up to Siam Square today, looking for any evidence of the flood waters, protection from the flood waters or changes that might effect visitors to Bangkok at this time. All of the photos in this report were taken today so you can get an idea of how things are here on the ground in downtown Bangkok right now!
It was business as usual in Soi Nana although it was noticeably quieter than usual. There were far fewer people around, from punters, to girls, to street vendors, with gaps on the pavement where some vendors usually set up being vacant. Yes, Soi Nana is not that busy early in the day but like I say, it was noticeably quieter than usual. The Golden Beer, for example, was open for business but didn't have a single customer.
Not that many bars or restaurants in Soi 4 are barricaded up to protect them from any inundation of water. Hillary Bar and popular Aussie venue opposite, Bus Stop, two of few venues with any protection in place at all. Maybe the bars are just like the girls who work inside and protection is very much an after thought.
Looking way down the soi, down towards the tobacco factory, I could only describe it as tranquil. It hardly felt like I was standing in one of the biggest entertainment districts in Bangkok, a street with in which Western men will travel half way around the world to party and be a part of.
Everyone knows that parts of the city are sitting under water – it's the only topic on most people's lips – and there remains a danger that the flood waters could make it to this part of town but no-one in this usually vibrant soi seemed at all concerned and most Thais were going about their lives with the usual pursuit of sanuk (fun) for which they are well-known.
Canal boats are running on the Saen Saeb canal, which will be the inner city's last line of defence if the food waters that are currently in the Lad Prao and Chatuchak districts really do make it towards the inner city. To my eyes, the canal did not seem to be any higher than usual.
While the Siam Square area looks like business as usual with little in the way of sandbags protecting shops and businesses in what is Bangkok's premier shopping district, Panthip Plaza along with many other shopping centres and restaurants on Petchaburi Road are sandbagged up. I guess part of that is because they sit just north of the Saen Saeb canal.
The difficulty of making a decision of whether to come to Bangkok or not is not being helped by the massively conflicting news items being reported in the mainstream press. Yesterday we had an article in one newspaper that said that all the water should be drained within 11 days, and then we had an item in another newspaper that said that water was progressing through Bangkok faster than it could be drained out! As to whether you should come to Bangkok or not at this stage, that's a big question and one which I am still reluctant to answer. I'll cover it in some detail and try to answer it in Sunday's column.