With so much worry and confusion from the reports coming out of Bangkok about the flooding, I have decided to provide running updates of what's going on in downtown Bangkok at the moment.
These updates will primarily be about what is happening on Sukhumvit Road, Silom and places of interest to expats and frequent visitors to these areas i.e. the venues I frequently mention and cover in my weekly column. Don't look at these updates as anything more than information on how things are in downtown Bangkok at the moment provided specifically for the Stickman readership. As such, if you have a home in the far flung suburbs of Bangkok, or you want to know what is happening in Ayutthaya or any other province, sorry, I'm not covering that. This is simply updates with photos of what is happening in downtown Bangkok now.
Parts of Bangkok are experiencing serious flooding and chunks of the city are reported to be under a metre or more of a water. Well, you wouldn't know it downtown where it's as dry as a bone in the farang ghetto, Sukhumvit Road.
Bar owners and managers, restaurateurs and hoteliers are screaming in frustration at the images of Bangkok being beamed around the world which show a city inundated with water, a city under siege! These images have contributed to a huge drop in visitors to the Kingdom with some airlines reducing flights to Bangkok, and some flights arriving with very light loads. The photo above was captured of Sukhumvit Road near soi 22, early evening on Wednesday – look how quiet it is! Yep, even on Sukhumvit Road itself, traffic volume is way down.
Many shophouses, popular farang venues, businesses and buildings have set up sandbags in front of their premises to protect from the flood waters that may come. These barriers range from a handful of sandbags dropped on the ground that will provide as much protection as a box of tissues, to buildings which seem to have got professionals in to build the sort of barrier that will provide genuine protection.
In the photo above, Bangkok's best English pub, The Londoner, has taken steps to protect their basement level property with a protective barrier set up atop the lip, the full-time protection in place to keep the venue dry from rain water.
In the naughty bar areas it is business as usual. In Soi Cowboy, sandbags can be seen outside the Arab's bars. As with other venues around town, some bars actually have sandbags stacked in a manner which may provide some degree of protection while other venues have piles of sandbags haphazardly left, presumably ready to be placed in a more organised manner should the flood water really come. Other bar owners in Soi Cowboy seem to be taking a wait and see approach – and they also seem to be aware that piles of sandbags outside a venue is a really bad look for punters. You see sandbags and you think not just of water coming, but of imminent danger!
One of the major concerns reported is a shortage of water. It's true that some factories producing bottled water have been forced to close but there is still plenty of water around. I walked past a vendor on the main Sukhumvit Road with hundreds of bottles for water for sale at 8 baht for a 600 ml bottle, one baht more than you would typically expect to pay. I had been led to believe that water for sale would see a similar reaction to seeing a Benjamin Franklin sitting on the ground. This is not the case at all and the vendors with truck loads of water for sale are sitting around waiting for their next customer. THERE IS NO PROBLEM SOURCING AFFORDABLE BOTTLED WATER IN CENTRAL BANGKOK! Unlike some errant reports, you are NOT stuck with being forced to buy Evian or other expensive imported brands of water in supermarkets!
Bar trade has fallen off a cliff. One bar owner said to me last night that it doesn't matter if the water comes or not – trade is so bad already that it couldn't get any worse! In fairness, the past couple of months haven't been great, but this is becoming a great concern for owners, especially given as we are getting into what is supposed to be the start of the high season. (It is debatable when high season officially starts, but for sure, the weather gets much better from November and so the number of visitors increases, although the best months are usually December – February.)
Cancelations from tourists have got so bad that rumours are circulating that some hotels have closed entire wings!
It's no different in Sukhumvit soi 33, where the atmosphere has as much life as the painters after which some of the bars are named. Soi 33 is dead, even quieter than usual!
At the time of publishing it is ok downtown, as far as being dry goes. There's no sign of any flood waters. How will it be in, say, a few days or a week from now? Honestly, with all of the conflicting stories being reported, no-one knows. There is an optimism in downtown Bangkok, a feeling that the flood water won't make it there at all…
I plan to do DAILY UPDATES so please check in each day for the latest.
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