Thursday, 31 March 2011

Goodbye to March 2011

Goodbye to March 2011

This has been a very memorable March indeed. It all started out very good with a successful PADI IE for my candidates on Koh Lanta, directly followed the next day by a the Care for Cancer 10km run I did on Koh Samui in a personal best time.

My wife's youngest sister got wed and a good time and party was had by all on 14th March.

The 18th March saw some rain and there were a few flash floods, nothing too serious and looking at pictures of Samui some 7 years ago was great as well.

Work wise things were really shaping up, PADI IDC's scheduled in Gili Air in Indonesia in late April and things got even better with an IDC scheduled in Osan in South Korea in late June! Great news! It got even better and 22nd March I received news that for the 5th consecutive year in a row, since it's introduction by PADI Asia Pacific, I received the Platinum rating, a rating that allows me to become one of only 57 PADI Course Directors worldwide to earn this level of recognition! Good times!

Come the 26th March and I'm on the road again in order to start teaching an IDC on Koh Lanta. Stock up on food and drinks at home for the family and off I am. There was bad weather and big waves predicted but the trip over to Donsak was smooth but to my big surprise, the road from the ferry to the highway, a stretch of just 25km was flooded near the highway and travelling on was seriously interrupted! The picture above shows people waiting for things to happen that day near where the road is flooded.

I barely make it to the highway and can continue my way to Koh Lanta, where I arrive safely. The rest is history! The South of Thailand is hit by serious flooding, the worst that I can remember in my 12 years!
The road between Krabi and Surat Thani is now also closed due to water damage, so getting back to Samui in due time, may be a bit of a challenge!

My blog here goes crazy with over 10.000 visits and over 20.000 page views, popular posts are when the airport was closed and the video's.
Yesterday it really took off when Samui, Koh Tao and the South became world news!

If you're interested in updates on Phuket, please check Jamie's Phuket weather blog, he has some good and fair news on the Phuket area.

Currently the situation is getting better, I can only hope that the weather forecast for the next 7 days, being very sunny and now ind or rain, will continue just like April should be!

Thanks for all the support and I hope you will keep checking in when things return to normal again! If you want to book your hotels on Koh Samui for your next trip, please use my Samui hotel recommendation blog with a personalized view on the hotels listed!

Camille

Koh Samui and Koh Tao flood update, March 2011

Koh Samui and Koh Tao flood update, March 2011

Things are starting to look slightly better again on Koh Samui. As already mentioned, the ferries are up and running, also between the islands the ferries are up and running again and the airport is in full swing. The next thing will be to start cleaning up, especially with clear skies and no wind being predicted for the next week. After that, damage assessment and repair work will start, the mayor expects apparently at least 5 month before everything is fixed and repaired. Be advised that this statement implies all damage, the major problems should be tackled immediately.

Many things need to be re stocked though, currently the island is out of gasoline and diesel, there's a 4km tail back at the Chaweng PTT gas station and at the airport are apparently still around 1.500 people waiting to be flown out. Besides water in various and the usual places, things are on the way up! With the ferries running again, I would expect food supplies to be coming in again and the shelves at the supermarkets should be stocked again in a few days.

The Samui Triathlon, scheduled for 24th April has been cancelled as a result of the current rain damage.

Ring road surface damage, just the tip of the iceberg I'm afraid.

To all people that send emails and left messages on this blog, I've been busy today doing my work, I'm currently in the middle of teaching an IDC on Koh Lanta and come 12th June I'm participating in a half Marathon in Phuket, so my training schedule needs to be continued whenever I have time and this evening it was dry on Koh Lanta, enough to squeeze out an 8km run! I'm a bit surprised by the amount of visits to my blog and also by the amount of emails and messages I received regarding the flooding so please be assured, I will answer all messages, mails and posts and will start in a few moments.


Footage of the evacuation on Koh Tao by Tom Lansford



One for the Dutch amongst my readers, Rik of Riks Restaurant in Bang Rak was on the NOS radio with a live update



Some people donated again, much appreciated Oliver, Jeanette and Sari but two people said they found it hard to find the button, it's now on top of the page, left hand side.


Take care out there and I wish everyone affected in Southern Thailand by these floods very dry days to come soon!

Camille

Koh Samui, Thailand daily weather update; 31st March, 2011

Today's weather;

Samui at last woke up with electricity still running (at least near my house where electricity was cut off over for almost 56 hrs), no rain pouring down, the airport open and the ferries running again. It's still cloudy and roads are flooded and some bits and pieces of rain may come down but it looks like the worst is over. Current temp at 7am is 24C and 'only' 95mm of rain came down over the last 24 hrs.
I'm starting to relax!

On Koh Tao the evacuation of stranded tourists that started yesterday will continue today with thanks to the Royal Thai Navy. 3 seriously ill people from Koh Phangan hospital were evacuated by helicopter.

Yesterday saw still lots of rain but the airport opened up and the ferries started running again and electricity came back on again. Max temp reached only 23.9C

I'm receiving many emails and messages on my blog and I will try to answer them all but it will be later today. Everybody planning a holiday around 8th April or later, you should be fine although the cleaning up activities may still be in process.

Don't forget to hit the donations buttons, with over 5000 visits per day currently, somebody out there must think that this blog is useful, show your appreciation by hitting my beer money or donation buttons here! Thanks!

Koh Lanta is having a light cloud cover, it looks like the dark clouds have moved on. Hopefully there will be some sunshine today! Current temp at 7am is 24C

Yesterday saw an almost complete dry day with mini bursts of sunshine occasionally. Max temp reached 30C


The landslide in Krabi was not as devastating as initially mentioned, only one instead of 7 villages were affected and despite 10 bodies being recovered, only around a 100 people are missing and not 1000. However, landslides are now reported in 4 provinces, including Phuket.

Camille

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The situation on Koh Tao, March 2011

The situation on Koh Tao, March 2011

During the last couple of days I received a lot of questions regarding the situation on Koh Tao and it seems that they have been hit even harder than Koh Samui.

The torrential rains have done some serious structural damage and since the island was not reachable by ferries over the last 4 days, food and drinking water supplies were starting to run low.

Today the Royal Thai Navy's HTMS Chakri Naruebet an Offshore Patrol Helicopter Carrier has arrived at Koh Tao and started evacuating people off the island.

Here are some pictures from Koh Tao, partly from the Koh Tao Zone site;







Sairee beach road



Camille

Samui update, more pictures

Samui update, more pictures

The situation is slowly improving. Samui airport has opened today and apparently the first 2.000 people have been able to leave.
My house in Plai Laem has since 21.30 electricity again and the Dutch Government has given a negative travel advise to Southern Thailand. Really????

The rain is about to stop soon though and has decreased in amount and power, like the wind.

Thanks to Fatih Volkan for another donation. Cool, much appreciated!

Here are some pictures of today and yesterday;

Thais are always creative

Chest deep

Canoe for rent on Chaweng Beach!

The Pink Lady, service with a smile

KC Villa Beach in Chaweng

KC Villa Beach in Chaweng

Banana Fan Sea in Chaweng

Chaweng

Very bad news comes from Krabi from the Phuketwan; A LANDSLIDE on a Krabi hillside has reportedly buried eight villages, with ''up to 1000 people'' said to be missing. Krabi is popular with tourists at this time of the year.

First reports said the landslide occurred at Khao Phanom, between Krabi Town and Surat Thani. The province, noted for Phi Phi and close to James Bond island in neighboring Phi Phi, sits on Thailand's Andaman coast.

The first 10 bodies have been recovered.

Camille

Koh Samui, Thailand daily weather update; 30th March, 2011

Today's weather;

Samui is dry for the time being, this morning but the wind is still very strong. The rain is supposed to subside slowly and by tomorrow the wind should have subsided as well so hopefully the airport can open either today or tomorrow. Current temp at 7am is 23.5C

Last night saw rain again and over the last 24 hrs 'only' 197mm of rain came down on the already battered island! Plai Laem and Bang Rak are closing in on 26 hrs of no electricity! Strangely enough the phone landline to our house works! Max temp reached 25C

Thanks for all the support and special shouts go out to Aaron and Robin for the donations!! I will get it to good use! Also thanks to all who are hitting the beer buttons!

Another boulder that came down near 'The Cliff' on the road between Chaweng and Lamai

Travel advisory from today's Bangkok Post

Near Centara in downtown Chaweng

The Monkey Road in Bophud or whatever is left of it, photo by Thea Sonnekus

Koh Lanta is looking at some grey clouds this morning and there's also a fairly strong wind, nothing like the Gulf though! Current temp at 7am is 25.2C

Yesterday saw a very wet day on Lanta with rain almost all day but not very hard rain. Only 12mm over 24 hrs. Max temp reached 26.2C

Camille


Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Hotel bookings and reviews on Koh Samui for 2011

Hotel bookings and reviews on Koh Samui for 2011

Once Samui has cleaned up the debris from the current storm that raged over the island, it's time to start thinking of your next booking on our lovely island!

Besides this Samui info and weather blog, I also have a blog with Samui hotel recommendations that I update twice per month. Right now over 70 hotels are listed and the good thing about the reviews is that I either visited these hotels myself because family or friends stayed there, so I actually have a personal view on the hotels with often some interesting inside information that you won't be able to find on a booking site!

Save big with HotelsCombined.com

One of these sites is the 'Hotels Combined' site, as pictured above which compares various hotels on various booking sites, very useful to get a good deal.


The other site is the well known and trusted Agoda site

Maybe it's a good idea to bookmark my blog and use it once you plan on booking your hotel on Koh Samui or somewhere else around Thailand.

Camille

Samui update, can things get much worse?

Samui update, can things get much worse?

A good question, the airport is still closed, a plane took off from Bangkok but aborted the landing on Samui and turned around to Bangkok again. The ferries did also not run today!

The results of a couple of days being battered by rain are being shown in the next pictures;

This big rock was the overhang rock on the road between Chaweng and Lamai near 'The Cliff' restaurant. A landslide took care of this. There were already plans to dynamite the rock overhang, well, nature took care of that, now the question is 'what's next'? Shove it int he ocean? Blow it to pieces?

Road damage in Nathon, as it looks lie, next to the pier in Nathon.

The lake road Chaweng, completely flooded (photo by James Lemon)

The monkey road in Bophud (photo by Thea Sonnekus)

Centara in Chaweng, beach road, where it always hits the jackpot, near Zico's! About 1 meter, all natural waterways are being blocked by Centara's walls!

It's sad to see what happened to Samui the last couple of days but unfortunately a lot of the problems could have been prevented if not all beach road property had been build block solid with walls, preventing the natural way from finding it's way to the ocean.

I do hope that the mayor is able and capable of dealing with this situation and can come up with some ideas to prevent unnecessary flooding.

The rain was out of season and extreme, so not all is controllable, but at least work on the well known problem areas!
The general consensus is that the current floods are worse than last November and even worse than 2005, when as a result of the bad floods, a good drainage system was installed.

To all my readers, during the the last November floods, my page views sky rocketed, if just all of you that ask for advice or visit my blog, book their hotel rooms through my Samui hotel recommendation or my Thailand hotel recommendation blogs, I will be a very happy camper!

I do appreciate the visits that get me some beer money, they are still few though in comparison to the amount of visitors that come and have a look at Samui in distress!

Keep posted, more updates are likely to come. Hopefully the predictions will come through and come the weekend, the sun will be out again!

I just wonder how long it will take to clean up all the mess that nature has created, a bit more than a week this time around I'm afraid!

Camille

More updates about floods and drought in Thailand, March 2011

More updates about floods and drought in Thailand, March 2011

The Bangkok Post has a very good graphic displayed below that shows the affected areas that have severe flood and severe drought. All in one country. For good measure, some earth quack affected provinces are thrown in as well.



Ever considered this; A crocodile is captured by zoo workers yesterday at Suan Somdej Phra Sri Nakharin Park, where Nakhon Si Thammarat municipality’s zoo is located. It was one of 11 crocodiles that escaped the flooded zoo. Zoo staff shot dead one crocodile and caught three others. Seven remain at large. Two bears also escaped. NUCHAREE RAKRUN

Camille

Koh Samui, Thailand daily weather update; 29th March, 2011

Today's weather;

Samui is waking up under very dark clouds and is about to assess last nights torrential rain damage. Just over 400mm came down over the last 24 hours and 90mm between 1 and 4am. There will be damage to roads and buildings, I just hope it all will be within limits and reason.
Current temp at 7am is still 25C

The tendency is that all long term residents have never experienced anything like the current floods, even the November 2010 floodings were not as bad as the current situation.
The water levels in front of our house on the road between Plai Laem and Choengmon have never been as high as they are now. A lot of problems are caused because the water is 'boxed' in and can't follow it's natural flow to the ocean because of too much construction blocking the way to the ocean.

There are power cuts all over the island, so land phone lines won't work and the batteries on mobile phones will be getting very low soon or are dead already. The power cuts are either genuinely because of over load and are partly on purpose in order to avoid electrocutions. The spaghetti wire above the roads doesn't really look too re-assuring.
Max temp yesterday didn't get any higher than 26.5C

The current prediction is about another 80mm of rain for Samui and surrounding islands until 7pm today and than it's supposed to ease off with sun and no waves and wind starting from Friday onwards.

Good luck to everybody on Samui, hope it will be all good again very soon!

The situation on Koh Phangang and Koh Tao is not looking good, especially Koh Tao seems to have had some serious battering with plenty of structural damage and they must be running low on food and especially drinking water by now. I don't expect the airport to open today, due to wind and rain.


The overall situation in the South of Thailand is very bad, see the chart below. The current death toll is nine. The Nation resports; Flood waters are now wreaking havoc in the provinces of Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani, Trang, Krabi and Phatthalung.
To date, 13 districts of Surat Thani have been declared disaster zones, with the inundation having damaged four bridges, 11 roads and two temples.

Education Minister Chinnaworn Boonyakiat said the flooding had damaged 613 schools in Trang, Krabi, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani, Songkhla and Phatthalung.

Bangkok Airways cancelled all 36 domestic and international flights in and out of Samui yesterday, due to the severe thunderstorms hitting the island and the surrounding area. It said affected passengers should contact its ticketing office to rebook their flights at no additional charge.

Meanwhile, just as the floods have been raging in the South, PM's Office Minister Satit Wongnongtaey said 47 other provinces were suffering from drought.


Chaweng ring road

Koh Lanta's sky is also dark and grey but the amount of rainfall here is just a fraction of what came down in other parts of Thailand. Current temp at 7am is 25.5C an yesterday's max temp reached 27.6C.

Yesterday saw some heavy rain but nothing serious. 'Just' 45mm of rain in 24 hours. All dive boats were cancelled yesterday though and I'm not sure if the dive boats will run today. As far as I know the car ferries are still running.

A next updated is not expected before noon since I'm conducting and IDC on Lanta and won't have time to be online that much.

Keep hitting the right buttons though to upgrade my beer allowance and if you plan on booking hotels on Samui or around Thailand, please use the links provided, all bookings through these sites will help me make more beer money!

Camille


Monday, 28 March 2011

Situation on Samui worsening, airport closed

Situation on Samui worsening, airport closed

The rain has been relentless today and by 4pm the airport was officially closed, this is on BKK Airways Facebook page, funnily enough nothing is listed on their website;

All flights to/from Samui are cancelled due to bad weather. Passengers can contact 02 270 6699, 1771 or 077 422 512-9 (Samui Office) for rebooking the flight. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Lines of people at Samui airport today

Samui airport today

Maenam area today

Chaweng today




The situation on Koh Phangan is not that great, see picture above and on Koh Tao long term residents report about flooding as worse as they have ever seen and they're slowly running out of food and drinking water.

The worst for Samui is still coming with a predicted 260mm of rain tomorrow. Wind Guru is predicting more rain tomorrow with a lot less wind but by Thursday things should have calmed down again.

If you find my blog and updates useful, don't feel embarrassed by donating some beer money! Plenty of buttons do the trick here and if you want to book your hotels on Samui or in Thailand, please use the links provided. It all helps to keep this blog going!

Camille

Some video's of Samui's March 2011 flooding

Some video's of Samui's March 2011 flooding

Have a look of some of these video's, apparently at some areas on Samui the flooding are worse compared to November 2010.



This is in Lamai



This is also in Lamai



This is between Maenam and Bang Po

The airport is currently still open but there are delays.

If you find my blog and updates useful, don't feel embarrassed by donating some beer money! Plenty of buttons do the trick here and if you want to book your hotels on Samui or in Thailand, please use the links provided. It all helps to keep this blog going!

Camille


Koh Samui, Thailand daily weather update; 28th March, 2011

Today's weather;

Samui is still covered under dark clouds, just like the rest of Southern Thailand and the region South and West of Thailand. It looks like a lot more rain is going to come down today and the ferries to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao might not run today because of big waves. Current temp at 7am 26C

Yesterday saw another 95mm of rain pour down on Samui. The ferries connecting Samui to the near islands and the mainland in Donsak have been cancelled, due to big waves and the fact that once in Donsak there's no way out of there, as already posted by me two days ago and experienced by myself. The back roads to Kanchanadit are now flooded as well.
On Samui there are plenty of flooded areas, the Bang Rak area as pictured below, Laem Din market and the ring road before entering Lamai, the usual hot spots are flooded again.
There were a few moments without rain shortly after noon but other than that it was almost non stop rain, including during the night. By Thursday the strong rain and wind is predicted to subside.
Max temp reached 27C

Nakhon Si Thammarat has been declared a disaster area and some areas in Surat Thani have undergone the same treatment, see The Nation's report here.

The flooded area in Bang Rak, the fire brigade trying to pump water away.

In sharp contrast, this is Koh Lanta yesterday!

Koh Lanta has also dark clouds this morning and it just started to rain. Current temp at 7am is 24.5C

Yesterday saw a very nice and sunny day on Lanta, after a slightly cloudy start but soon the sun broke through and it was warm and nice. Max temp reached 31C

The weather here predicted to be rough today but the rain should slow down by tomorrow and it should be all good again come Friday!

The IDC on Koh Lanta also kicked off yesterday and it was easy cruising in the sunshine yesterday!

If you find my blog and updates useful, don't feel embarrassed by donating some beer money! Plenty of buttons do the trick here and if you want to book your hotels on Samui or in Thailand, please use the links provided. It all helps to keep this blog going!

Camille

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Koh Samui, Thailand daily weather update; 27th March, 2011

Today's weather;

Samui had a stormy night, all night long and right now there's lots of rain and it's about to continue until Tuesday when it starts easing up. Current temp at 7am is 24.4C

Yesterday saw plenty of rain all day long on Samui and this out of season rain is causing more and more flash flooding, well, if by now they still can be called flooding! There was 145mm of rain. Max temp reached 28.1C

Buddha statue in Donsak, near the ferry port

Stranded car being pulled out of a flooded road near Donsak, see yesterday's blog post

Koh Lanta has a relatively nice sky, clouded but not grey and it looks like the sun is trying very hard to peek through. It's dry here for a change. Current temp at 7am is 24.6C

Yesterday saw lots of rain on Koh Lanta, upon arriving there was a drizzle but it changed sometimes to very hard rain combined with strong wind which lasted pretty much all night long. Max temp reached 29.9C with just 17mm of rain.

The forecast on Lanta looks a lot better compared to Samui, with a lot less rain and hopefully sunshine again for the next week(s). Oh yeah, did I mention that I'm starting another IDC today!

Camille

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Road flooding on the mainland, Donsak ferry road to highway

Road flooding on the mainland, Donsak ferry road to highway

This morning it was raining all the way from home to the ferry in Nathon. The road in Bang Rak was still flooded and this morning two firetrucks were pumping water instead of one as previously posted in one of my posts. This was all just warming up for what still was to come!

Once I got off the ferry in Donsak, about 5km onto the road direction main highway, I passed through a flooded road bit slightly too fast which caused big water fountains all around my car and a slightly higher heart rate for a moment or two. The first seriously flooded areas I encountered next to the road almost look idyllic, like the picture above shows. This changed rapidly though.

Next I knew the road was about to be flooded and the view changed drastically. People were out on the road, either watching the rain and the traffic go by or just because they couldn't literally stay in their houses because they were flooded.

The water looked more and more aggressive and willing to come and spoil my travel party to Koh Lanta.


That's when I hit the first patch of serious flooded road and my speed which was already reduced by now, was now down to walking speed. After this little patch of flooded road, I was wondering what else there would be in for me on today's travels! needless to say that rain was never really far away, although it was merely a drizzle at this stage.

Just a few kilometers after the first flood, almost near the highway, maybe just 6km away from it, this piece of work came in front of my car, a section of the road covered at it's deepest point in about 1 to 1.4 meters of water. In my broken Thai I conversed with a local policeman who thought that I would be able to get through with my 4 wheel. Well, my car looks like a 4 wheel bit it's not a 4 wheel, so I didn't follow up on his invitation to give it a go.
Soon after he came back and explained that a big truck would come and we could follow the truck so we didn't get lost on the road. I still wasn't completely convinced and righteously so.

A truck came from the opposite direction and was way up to it's doors covered in water, as the picture shows. The guys in the little boat just went out for just in case the truck would get in trouble. A very nice gesture!
Within a minute a second truck made it through, coming from the opposite direction. Soon enough a truck came from out side of the road and started to make it's way through, quickly followed by two cars. The truck stalled just before it started to get really deep and the two cars were caught out. One SUV could make it back in reverse but the other car got stuck as well and needed to be towed out.

I was just able to catch the children (!!) get out of the car and look at the shows floating inside the car, the whole interior flooded whilst they were out there!

Now my day was really made and I was already making plans to find a hotel and get some food. A couple of calls with my wife and friends of her who are from this area didn't help unfortunately and it was not looking too bright in chances of making it to Koh Lanta today so I could start the IDC tomorrow!

After a good 10 minutes the one police guy who initially suggested I travel through the flooded road came back and told me that if I would follow all the cars that were reversing, they would follow a road that wasn't flooded and would lead to the highway.


This was indeed the case and after about a 60 km detour and just one flooded are, see video above, we fin ally made about an hour later into Kanchanadit where I could get some diesel (!) at last, get something to eat and continue my travels for the day! Since Kanchanadit is more or less where the road to Krabi starts it was not too much time wasted. There was some heavy rain and very dark clouds on the way but also some dry patches. Around 4.20pm I finally made it on to Koh Lanta, slightly knackered but very happy to have made it in one piece!
Did I mention that it rains in Lanta?

The city of Nakhon Si Thammarat is heavily affected by today's flooding and Thai TV showed footage of search actions on one of Samui's beaches where a boy went missing in some big waves.

If you find my blog and updates useful, don't feel embarrassed by donating some beer money! Plenty of buttons do the trick here and if you want to book your hotels on Samui or in Thailand, please use the links provided. It all helps to keep this blog going!

See you tomorrow!

Camille