The flooding in Bangkok is no longer in the news. Channels that were carrying the story 24-hours a day have now gone back to their regular programming. We who live in the north are not sure whether this means the crisis is over – or just that the economically significant portions of Bangkok are now deemed safe and, therefore, there is nothing newsworthy about this crisis any longer. However, the story is not over yet. For as the flood waters recede, there is an enormous amount of debris left behind. Some is garbage. Some are household items destroyed by flood waters. Some is silt and other organic materials carried in by the flood waters. And there are dead animals that drowned in the flood – both wild animals and domestic. As several of Bangkok’s landfills were flooded, only two are still able to receive trash. It will take some time to cart it all away. And, oh, by the way, it really smells bad! How do I know? Well, lots of those who have been interviewed in Bangkok have talked about the foul smell and remember, we had our own flood here in September.
Hundreds of volunteers have turned out to help with the clean-up. Some have come because they are victims and want life to return to normal as quickly as possible. Many are now unemployed since the businesses that employed them have been closed or destroyed by flooding. Others just want to help those who are less fortunate than themselves. The work is concentrated in two areas: business districts that need to be productive again and tourist venues that need to prepare for the “High Season” of tourism which begins next week.
Even in these trying times, there are glimpses of the incredible sense of humor of the Thai people. This sign (left) forbids flood waters from entering this house without obtaining permission in advance. We have seen images on television that show a) a vendor selling goggles and swim fins by the side of a road that is now a river, b) a crocodile peering into the doorway of a home (more than 500 crocodiles escaped during these floods), c) a cat with a cat-sized life vest utilizing empty water bottles as floatation devices, d) a man sitting on the roof of a public telephone booth, making a phone call at the booth that is half under water, and e) a man who tied plastic step stools to his feet to walk down a flooded street.
And then there is this sign, totally surrounded by water, that points the way to a swimming pool! One week from today, I will be making my way to Bangkok to take the Thai Competency Exam. I can’t say that I am looking forward to the trip – partially because I anticipate encountering some problem related to the flooding and partially because I am not really excited about taking this exam. Still, it will give me an idea of how well I know the language now and how much more I need to learn. Please continue to pray for the people of Thailand. It will take a long time for them to recover from this – especially those who do not have the resources to help them regain their footing. Thank you for your prayers – and the notes you add from time to time.