On 25th November, I’m going on holiday. My flights are booked. My accommodation is booked. The only problem is, the country I’m flying to is currently experiencing its worst floods in 50 years. That’s right, I’m going on holiday in Thailand, starting with 4 days in Bangkok. Now firstly, I can’t even begin to think what it must be like to be a permanent resident in a country experiencing something like that. I’m only a tourist, travelling there for leisure, so my experience will pale in significance to those living through the floods.
I’ve done a fair bit of travelling, and touch wood, always been very fortunate with my travel plans. I’ve never experienced horrendous flight delays or any other major issues when travelling. This is the first time I’ve been in the situation where I’m having to reconsider my travel plans. I’m still hoping to travel to Bangkok. Three weeks is a long time. But I’m keeping a very close eye on what’s going on, and wanted to share various resources that I’ve been using, so that if you find yourself in a similar situation you can use these very same tools to stay informed.
It’s important to remember that there are pros and cons of every type of journalism, some which are highlighted at the end of this post. Some media outlets may play on sensationalism, while others may underplay the significance of the flooding in a bid to encourage tourists to continue visiting Bangkok. What I’ve tried to do is pull together information from many different sources so that you can see a fuller, more complete picture of what’s happening.
The first thing to do is to find out what the Foreign Office is saying. They provide travel advice by country, which is regularly updated. Here you can see the current advice for Thailand. As you can see, the advice as of 7th November is as follows:
We advise against all but essential travel to the 25 provinces in Thailand identified by the Thai authorities as affected by flooding. This includes the city of Bangkok, but does not include transit through Suvarnabhumi international airport.
They later go on to say that the resorts of Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Koh Samui “are not currently affected by flooding and are operating normally.”
Official Tourism Websites
Some countries will have some form of official tourism websites. In the case of Thailand, I’ve been pointed in the direction of www.thailandtourismupdate.com. They’re doing a great job of keeping travellers well informed with regards to the floods – in particular, I found this FAQ of great use.
They’ve even been interviewing tourists currently out there to see what they think, which gives an interesting perspective on things:
You may find that mainstream media give a skewed representation of what’s really happening. In situ bloggers may be able to provide an alternative to mainstream media coverage. I’ve found Richard Barrow very good at documenting what’s going on in Thailand, especially over at the blog Thai Travel News. You can follow him on Twitter too, @richardbarrow.
I also found this great forum thread over at Tripadvisor discussing the Bangkok floods. Obviously the floods have been ongoing for a while, so jump straight to the end for the most recent information.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Websites like Boston.com are great at photographing major world events, so there’s no surprise they’ve documented the Thai floods. There are plenty of other places too though – I found these on the BBC, and these on Gawker.
I don’t think I was fully aware of the extent of the floods until I saw these pictures.
If you’re considering changing your travel arrangements, it’s worth having a look at what the airlines are saying. Two of Thailand’s biggest airlines have issued the following information:
As I mentioned at the top of this post, there are plenty of concerns with regards to accurate reporting of the Thai floods. While social media is a quick and easy way to publish information to the masses, it’s can also help rapidly spread misinformation. The following blog posts do a great job of counteracting some of the misreporting that appears to be going on:
- A flood of information in a dry city
- Correcting some of the myths about the Bangkok and Thailandfloods
Photo courtesy of Ieneke