Not every trip has to be leisure, and not every business trip has to be boring. In 2011, Thailand experienced its worse flooding in history. Starting from July, the flooding reached its highest level in September before receding. However, some flooding still persisted until January 2012. We were asked by several factories in Thailand to assess the damage to their equipment for the purpose of salvage and insurance claims, but we could only go in December 2011 when the flood waters had subsided to a safe level.
Well, this was my first time going into a disaster zone and I packed basically emergency gear like torchlight, first aid kit, Swiss army knife, etc. Since I was going to be walking through flooded streets, I just wore a bermudas and Crocs for the survey. Going with me on this trip were 2 other colleagues.
We landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport which was not affected by the flood and were met by our Thai business partners who took us to the affected factories for the survey. The affected factories are 60km north of Bangkok and located in several industrial estates near Ayuthayya.
In the video above: Bangkok residents resort to parking their cars on the overpass to save their vehicles from the flood. Some of them are even living on the overpass temporarily.
It is a surreal experience to see a disaster on the news and then to experience it yourself first hand. Seeing the scale of the damage was mind boggling. As bad this first area was affected, we were told that the next area we would be visiting was even worse, and the hardest hit by the floods. Some areas were still impassable to cars because the roads were still flooded.
We drove further north to Rojana where most of the automobile car makers were located. We could see that some low lying areas were still underwater. The industrial estate looked like a war zone with piles of sandbags lining the fences and entrances to factories. Every building and structure was covered in a brown film of dried mud.
As I left Bangkok after this trip, I thought to myself that we do have a lot to be grateful for that we don’t suffer such natural disasters in Singapore. The Thai people are also resilient and did not let this set back dampen their spirits. Everywhere I could see that they were bouncing back and setting to the task of rebuilding their homes and lives.