This is a story that I have told a lot of friends. I don’t think I have ever told it publicly though even when I was publishing in Thailand. It’s a story I want to get down just for my own future memory as much as anything.
It must have been 2005 although my memory is Sketchy. It was when I was living in Chiang Mai. I didn’t work much although I kept a part time job just to keep my feet on the ground. But one weekend I went away by myself to Pai. A small town in the Jungle in the far north of Thailand. It was a place that was known as a popular hippie get away.
Anyways, I got there probably by bus and the first thing I did was book a white water rafting trip. So my first two nights in Pai were in the jungle after rafting for hours. By the time that journey ended I got back into town I was pooped. 3 days rafting and sleeping in the Jungle I couldn’t wait to hit a warm bed. So I walked around a bit and found a bungalow near the river. Big mistake.
That night I slept like a log. You know when you are waking from a dream and you are still not fully awake. Well as I was waking in my head. There were two Thai men in an argument about a motor scooter. I probably dribbled out the side of my mouth and in my head I said, “I wish these noisy Thai Pricks would shut the fuck up and let me sleep.” Well, that whole scenario was just some random bullshit that was happening inside my head. At some point my arm folded over the bed. Water. Nothing but. There was water almost at bed level by that point. The sounds I was hearing outside was the Thai people gathering up their things and trying to flee in panic. It was Chaos. The figure I heard was that that year the Pai flood expanded the river by something like 20x.
As I walked from my bungalow I went down a stair case and was waste deep in water. All I could see looking toward the river was river as far as my Eyes could see. I turned and started walking toward the town waste deep carrying what I managed to salvage from my room.
This experience was a super important experience in my life as it is the only time I can say I have ever been in a disaster zone. When I was in the town, people were scared. No one knew what was happening. We started to hear a rumour that a Damn had burst. But then that rumour changed to a damn was about to burst because of the flooding. So we were in a frenzied panic. What was happening? Was the massive swollen river only the beginning? Were we about to see another huge rush of water? So that experience teaches me so much about wars and disaster zones. No one knows what is happening. It is only your best guess that keeps you alive or otherwise.
About 30 minutes later I managed to get on a bus and split. Still not really knowing if another huge flood was about to come through. Making my last scary experience the crossing of that river over a bridge with a massive torrent of water running through it hoping it didn’t collapse.
So thats the story. It an important one for me. Just because It was the only time i’ve been in such a fast event where there was complete chaos.
I’d like to dedicate the story to the local Thai people who passed in the flood and also to a young French Man called Remi who I believe passed in another rapid flooding event in northern Thailand.