There are only five days left until I head to Bangkok.
News channels and online networks have been constantly streaming video footage of Thailand awash with floodwater, factories being shut down, mudslides taking out rice paddies, and men and women furiously working to build up flood walls and sand bags around businesses and homes.
As far as we can tell, the Bangkok International Airport has been so far safe from flood waters and they are doing all they can to keep it that way. Already, tourism in Thailand has taken a hit in the last few months and they are expecting a greater decrease in the months to come. Food shortages also have the Thai people worried as rice prices soar and stores are being cleared of bottled water and non-perishable food items.
Our plan to fly to Bangkok and then head north to Mae Sot and Chiang Mai after two or three days has now been redirected to a trip south. We are planning on hopefully catching one of the few trains still running to Surat Thani and then down to Yala where Kyle wants to photograph the “Bloody War for Thailand’s Deep South” (http://asiancorrespondent.com/64418/the-bloody-war-for-thailands-deep-south/). Along the way I hope to spend a good amount of time photographing the faces of Thais who live along the beaches catering to the foreign tourists and documenting their way of life. My goal is to photograph the contrast between the peoples of Southern Thailand and those in the north, particularly the hill tribes up near Mae Sot and Chiang Mai.
Hopefully this works out and we can get south! There is also a place along the Thai-Burma border where we might be able to volunteer with the Burmese refugees (particularly the young children). Mae Sot (north) is a diverse town of hill tribe, Burmese, Thai, Chinese, and Indian people whereas the town of Mueang Ranong is mostly just a blend of Thai and Burmese. Photographing and writing poems from these people’s point of views will also provide an interesting comparison between the two refugee settlements/towns.
As I finish up these last few days in Olympia, packing and otherwise preparing for my trip, I am sending out positive thoughts and prayers to all the people in Thailand and Cambodia affected by the floods and I hope that things will begin to calm down in the next few days!