Friday, October 28, 2011

Bangkok Floods

Bangkok citizens were told to evacuate the city some days ago. Some people, including myself, have stayed. Here we are looking around at all the dry ground and thinking 'where is the evidence?', 'Where's this great flood?' The truth is some of the city, in the west has began to go under due to rising rivers / canals. When the flood comes it will come fast. One minute you're pointing at a small trickle of water and laughing at the great flood and the next you're up to your neck in it. If Bangkok barriers begin to fail (which may or may not happen) the northern section of the city will become inundated and STILL people like us south of the city will look around our little world and say, 'where is the great flood?' - Well, we might soon find out.

This could be human nature. In psychology, denial is a subconscious defense mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge painful realities, thoughts, or feelings. But where to go? It seems that the whole of Bangkok are evacuating to beach resorts and surrounding towns. Finding a hotel room for a large family is a nightmare, and then there's the actual travel part. Heavy traffic, roads being blasted apart to allow water to hopefully flow away from the city. Flooded roads traveling with kids (my youngest 5 year old can't swim!) Perhaps we're safer at home on the first floor where we have moved all our possesions. We are a couple of metres above ground here. Maybe camp out hoping the city will win its fight against this mass body of water and rising tides. Maybe not. Should we stay or should we go?

Stories are filtering through blogs and forums and newsrooms. One expat thought he was safe in the Northern city of Chiang Mai back at the end of September... His neighbours were being told that the water was incoming and he looked for all of the reasons to leave the city and couldn't find any. There was no flood outside the window. Dry as a bone. His house and his business ended up being flooded by 1.8 meters of dirty diseased water. He was stranded on the second floor of his office building for almost a week with just enough food, water, and at times without electricity. Then there was the story on Thai TV about the old lady trapped in her Auythaya home for days. Up to her neck in dirty water the shack-of-a-dwelling becamce infested with snakes. And what about the hundreds that have already lost they lives already in the floods? This is a serious matter.

The prudent advice is to pay heed to the government warnings, think worst case, and evacuate... once the water hits, our options are considerably reduced. The reality is that here in Bangkok we have an ocean of water above us and, any breach in flood defenses, physics takes over and water level inside the city will find equilibrium with levels outside of the barriers. The whole city will become flooded.

Thailand has taken a national holiday to allow people to escape. Shops are running out of basics like water, rice, dried noodles. Many rich Bangkokians panic-bought hording masses of essentials before fleeing the city. Stories of Hi-So Bangkok women with pocket-sized dogs and designer hand-bags checking into Pattaya bordellos keep us smiling. But the trouble is supply lines are not making it through to supply the major food-chains. Supprisingly the local markets still have all the basic things and vegtables and meat easy to find in the markets. I guess The High Society don't shop at the markets.

The next high-tide is this evening between 5-6pm. This is the time when it'll be most likely that the Chao Phraya bursts her banks. Its probably best to leave whilst we still have the choice.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Snake Man

Dean Ripa was born in 1957 in Wilmington, North Carolina. A herpetological-wunderkind, he was already catching dangerously venomous snakes before the age of ten in the swamplands near his home. At age 13 he was seriously bitten, and hospitalized in intensive care for 2 weeks, losing the functional use of his right hand for over two years. Undaunted, he continued, and by age 15 was already keeping some the world’s most dangerous snakes, king cobras, Gaboon vipers, black mambas, and many others, unbeknownst to his parents, in cages hidden in the attic rooms of their spacious mansion-like house. In his early twenties, he left for Africa to capture and export live snakes back to America. As this proved successful, he began traveling the world, becoming what was probably the first international snake hunter for hire. Major zoos, laboratories, and private fanciers were his customers. Long before television snake-wranglers were staging “cobra captures” in front of camera crews, Dean Ripa was prowling the remotest areas of the earth, far from medical help and human settlement, catching deadly creature and bringing them back alive to America in order to study their habits in captivity. His adventures have taken him to five continents and more than 30 countries, and they have sometimes been harrowing. He has been wracked by malaria, schistosomiasis and dysentery, lost in Amazonian jungles, stranded in the New Guinea highlands, and held up at gun point during military coups in West Africa and Suriname. He has survived twelve venomous snakebites to date, including seven by bushmasters, surely the record number of envenomations by this deadly snake on any individual.The literary magazine, Oxford American, ran an award-winning feature on his life’s work. As author William S. Burroughs described him in his book, The Western Lands, “Dean Ripa could have stepped from the pages of a novel by Joseph Conrad.”

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Eastern Lands.

Yes, of course I'm part of the advant garde...I have like paintings and stuff... Post modern is so passe...A book of William burroughs...The Western Lands, his last novel proper... What a book...I took that book.... Cut up the pages and then put together a text..From the words....I'll make a novel outta it..Sammy Beckett told Burroughs its plumbing...Words aren't cattle with brands on them Burroughs responded in his Southern drawl..Don't expect you to understand it Micky... My week beats your year..Lou Reed said that...Speed paranoia...Liner notes of Metal Machine Music....Aha... What are blogs? Neat little harbours for gems...Truffles in the forrest...Feed piggy... feed...The Eastern Lands...

Flying centipedes of unfortunate varieties: run when they hatch, dwindle out in barren hills. A naked man tears at his flesh break through the skin in the Guilt Theater with limestone seats, crowds walk by faces blank circles, a stone stele, jerks convulsively as a centipede head, centipede hair, eyes and then his penis emerge. Another is eating, moving in jerks and spasmodic motions. Wilson kills the man with an overlap, stop and scrabble. Below the stele is a naked man. An area of narrow passages, straps. The couch is made of clay, six feet long, ancient holes in the marble floor. Upper cubicles are half empty naked, except for exquisite rope ladders and notes in segmented gold, with opal jammed with the dead and in the air, faces squirming and energy pours from their buckets to shiny black mirrors reflecting a vile hunger. Filtheaters between the warrens beware the Guilt Theater. The cubicles buzz about, Centipedes laying eggs in the empty ruined buildings. A circular space twenty, screaming Filtheaters as centipede heads smooth marble in the middle of ashes and blood and pus. The silent covered with tiny script, compose-catatonic. The stricken man kicks his legs and claws; the sign breaks through the crown of patterns that intercross its way through an eye socket. Stone writes with hideous life. Bound to a couch with leather hardwood. The spectators are complete between rows of wire mesh centipede necklaces and braceletsteeps, five feet high, four tiers. Their eyes, lips parted pestilent breath because few can climb up to them crawling on the skull, eyes declutched logs. The lower cubicles a vile idiot hunger, dying, barely enough. The Guilt Theater speaks “We feed with the cede!”