Latest Stories

Bangkok bounces back from the floods

‘Some of the residents and shop owners have kept their sandbags for fear that the floods might come back— while others have just been too plain lazy to get rid of them’


BEST first-class seats ever. Delightful elephant rides with Angel and her family at the Samphran Elephant Ground & Zoo

As our Thai Airways airbus made its way into Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, I looked down and saw the worst-hit areas of Bangkok still submerged in floodwaters. I thought for a moment: Did we make the right decision to go ahead and pursue this long-planned post-Christmas family holiday trip, just after Thailand’s worst flooding in 50 years?

We did. Because when we touched down that day after Christmas Day, Bangkok’s floodwaters had already receded in most parts, and it’s been back to business since—except that the evidence of what this city and its resilient people had gone through is still very much there, from the abandoned sandbags fronting some shops to the still-high water levels in canals and river systems we passed on our way to the Samphran Elephant Ground & Zoo.

On our first night, as we walked along the streets of Ratchathewi District in Bangkok, we passed by some of those sandbags. Our good friend, Thai national Ms. Well, explained that some of the residents and shop owners have kept their sandbags for fear that the floods might come back.  (Others, she said with a chuckle, have just been too plain lazy to get rid of them.)

We ended that night dining in a small, family-owned Spanish-themed restaurant named Ole!, that  served hearty, home-cooked Thai food. By the time we had asked for the bill, the tiny place was packed with tourists and locals alike. There was a jovial atmosphere in the air.

It was the same jovial feeling I felt when we entered the much-talked about Calypso Cabaret “Ladyboy” show at The Asia Hotel, attended by tourists from different countries. We were lucky to have  secured the last few seats for the fully-booked show of “the most beautiful ladies in all of Thailand.” Ms. Well told us that the shows went on even at the height of Bangkok’s floods!

It was a totally different atmosphere when we attended the Thai Dinner with Thai Classical Dance show the following day at Silom Village. The Thai performers put out an amazing show with their khon and lakon nai classical dances, as well as southern Thailand’s Indian-influenced manohra dance.

Our journey to the Samphran Elephant Ground & Zoo, an hour’s drive from Bangkok, revealed to us more of the devastation the floods had wrought, not just in its capital city, but in the outlying areas west of Bangkok. We drove through paved highways and bridges that looked perfectly cemented and brand-new on that bright sunny Tuesday, but for the occasional eyesore of muddy puddles of water, sandbags, and dead twigs and branches.

Ms. Well told us that if we had planned on visiting the Zoo earlier in December, we wouldn’t have been able to, because the floodwaters had risen to impassable levels that only amphibian trucks could manage.

THE SHOW does go on. Calypso’s “Ladyboy” show continued its performances even at the height of the flood crisis in Bangkok.

It was all well worth the journey, as the elephants at the Zoo were just so totally adorable!  My family and I had the best  seats ever when we sat on the backs of two elephants for a ride around the zoo. We even got to feed them countless sticks of sugarcane after the show. By the way, those pachyderms are trained to take tips (any currency accepted) using their snouts!

Back in the city, we were also able to do some street-side shopping, getting awesome bargains for tees, and do a little bit of fancy shopping at high-end Gaysorn Plaza at the Ratchaprasong District, where we got seasonal discounts.

We also dined at the world-famous Thai restaurant chain Blue Elephant in Sathorn. The food was simply delightful, spiced just right according to the diner’s preferences. My favorite: spring rolls. What was most delightful was when master chef Khun Nooror Somany-Steppé came to our table for a chat, and when she knew I had a huge interest in cooking, she signed two of her cookbooks for me and took photographs with the family before heading off to her cooking class on the third floor.

ANGEL with her dad taking part in the Buddhist monks’ five o’clock prayers at the Temple of the Reclining Buddha

Our Bangkok visit would not have been complete without a visit to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, and its endless stream of tourists and locals. We immersed ourselves in the Hinayana Buddhist ways in the few hours that we were there, spending time with the monks in their five o’clock prayers and even taking a photograph with one of them. (It was good that Ms. Well had advised me earlier that Buddhist etiquette requires women to be, at least, one meter away from Buddhist monks when taking pictures with them.)

It was a Thai holiday to remember, not just for its uniqueness as a tourist destination, but for how resilient the people have proven to be amid a crisis that, for a moment, had the nation caught in the whirl of devastation for the latter half of 2011. But here she is—Bangkok, bouncing back, and so quickly! It’s a lesson we Filipinos could certainly learn from  our charming and resilient Southeast Asian neighbors.

As they say it in Thailand, with a slight bow and palms pressed together in prayer: “Sawasdee!”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Bangkok , Lifestyle , Thailand , Tourism , Travel

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  6. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  9. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  10. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  6. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  7. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  8. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • 57-nation group plays key Ukraine monitoring role
  • French President Hollande’s top aide resigns
  • Japan to redesign Antarctic whale hunt after UN court ruling
  • Vietnam battles fatal measles outbreak
  • Clinton White House documents set for release
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Can Spurs get back at Heat? Can they survive West?
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Whoopi Goldberg debuts as marijuana columnist
  • ‘X-men’ director accused of sex assault on teen boy
  • Business

  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Oil prices mixed ahead of long Easter weekend
  • Technology

  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Last call for nominations to ’14 Presidential Awards
  • San Francisco business coalition slams proposed tax on sugary drinks
  • A ‘time-travel’ production of ‘Les Miserable’ at Stanford