Did the earth move for you darling?

So tonight I was all ready to post a blog about His Majesty The King, it is after all a national holiday today to mark the anniversary of his coronation. But at around 6pm something happened that changed my mind. Something big and a little bit scary.

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So tonight I was all ready to post a blog about His Majesty The King, it is after all a national holiday today to mark the anniversary of his coronation, I had done my research and had my notes ready to compile. But I’m afraid that post will have to wait until another day.

At around 6pm something happened that changed my mind. Something big and a little bit scary.

I was on the phone to hubby casually chatting about the days events and all of a sudden my tummy started to feel a bit odd. Now its not unknown for me to get a few butterflies from time to time when I’m talking to my belov√©d, ( even after all these years ūüėČ ), but he’s never actually made me feel queasy before. It was then I noticed that the tv was rocking gently before my eyes and I had a fleeting worry that I was about to faint. My fear of fainting was soon overtaken by a deeper concern as I noticed that not only was the tv moving but the pictures hanging on the wall behind it were swaying from side to side. Simultaneously I became aware that my feet were moving too, even though I was sitting down and they were flat on the floor, which could only mean that the floor too, in fact the whole house, was having a not insignificant wobble. ¬†I tried not to panic as I grabbed small ones hand and dragged her into the garden whilst my poor, dear husband had to listen to me verbalising these events on the end of a phone 6000 miles away. It wasn’t till I was almost through the door that my thought process ¬†caught up with my physical awareness and the word “earthquake” arrived in my brain.

By the time we were in the garden, less than 30 seconds since it had begun, the ground had resumed its usual and much more welcome position of reassuringly solid and the only visible signs of something awry were the hanging orchids swinging from side to side in the still, calm evening air. I handed the phone to small person as I did a quick perimeter check of the house to ensure there were no blown out windows or new cracks in the masonry and was satisfied that no obvious damage had occurred. As I finished the circuit of the house I noticed the garden wall, which has never been the sturdiest of structures, had sustained some damage, but other than that we appeared to be in the clear.

Several large cracks appeared in the mid section
Several large cracks have appeared in the mid-section

I spoke again to my worried sick husband and assured him that we would be staying outside for a little while in case of aftershocks, and that I would speak to him again soon.

Then I did what had to be done.

Within seconds I had confirmed via twitter that it had indeed been an earthquake, and not a small one. A 6.3 magnitude quake had been recorded by the USGS, ( United States geological survey), 12km south of Chiang Rai, which makes that just over 130km of us here in Chiang Mai, but that there were, thank goodness, no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties.

Epicentre 10km south of Chiang Rai
Epicentre 10km south of Chiang Rai

Then I took to Facebook to let my friends and family know that all was well should they hear news of an earthquake in Northern Thailand, and of course to swap immediate news and ‘quake stories’ with my fellow residents of this fair city. In the immediate aftermath it became clear that whilst there have been a few reports of structural damage, there was nothing major to report other than a sense of overwhelming relief that we seemed to have got off so lightly.

This is not my first earthquake, I’m up to 4 now, but this is the first big one. The others were insignificant by comparison, registering as no more than a momentary shift that had to be confirmed by news reports after the fact ( and one not registering at all as it happened while I was asleep and was so small that it was barely there at all). ¬†However I very much suspect that it won’t be my last. Whist not on a par with ‘the ring of fire’ or the San Andreas Fault, Thailand, I have discovered, is no stranger to earthquakes. The area between Chiang Rai, the epicentre of todays quake, and Chiang Mai sits on right on top of the Mae Chen Fault and over the past 40 years, Thailand has experienced mid-sized earthquakes (magnitudes 5.0-5.9) 8 times, or once every 5 years. 5 of these tremors struck in the north, while the other 3 were centred in the west. Virtually all earthquakes recorded in Thailand are under magnitude 6.0*, but todays was clocked at an impressive and rather scary 6.3.
photo
There have been reports of some small aftershocks in Chiang Mai at around 7.30, but I didn’t feel anything personally. Possibly as I was being pulled headlong into a series of storm drains by my dog who was making great sport out of chasing lizards on his nightly stroll around that time.

But of course it wasn’t just me that felt the earth move this evening and its time to look at things from small persons perspective.

After her initial period of wide-eyed wonderment at feeling the floorboards shimmy beneath her feet, and telling ¬†daddy that it was ‘just like being in the earthquake room’ at the Museum of Natural History in London, she quickly lost patience with my insistence that we stay outside in the garden for while, just in case. Her impatience grew even stronger when she realised that her beloved ipad was just too far away from the router inside to pick up the wifi.

My request that she was to go to bed in our room tonight (which in all honesty is more for my comfort than hers), was treated with not a small amount of disdain, until she remembered that you get much better Internet in our room than hers and suddenly decided she was a bit too scared to go to sleep straight away but she would probably be ok if I let her play mine-craft for half an hour…. As I went up to declare the final bed time I asked her if she was ok, to which she replied ;
‘Honestly mum, what’s the matter with you tonight, ¬†it was only an earthquake’.

Jer Gan Mài

 

*source ; source http://www.cicc.chula.ac.th/en/current-campaign/203-likelihood-of-earthquakes-in-thailand.html

Panicing? I’m not panicing.

OK so here’s the deal . I am a little behind (about 3 weeks) in my blogging, and there are still a few things I need to write about China But I’m finding it hard to catch up and we have moved on a little….soooo.

I have inserted a couple of titles below which I will edit in the pieces when they are done and let you know!

If I don’t start to put the new pieces in now I will end up months behind, and that would be bad.

I had it covered, really I did. All the bookings printed out, passports, tickets and a plan. The plan was a good one too. We get the 11 am ferry from Macau directly to Hong Kong airport, that way we are all checked in by the time we get there and spend a leisurely couple of hours strolling the airport boutiques and changing our currency before boarding the flight to Thailand, without the need to cart our baggage on the underground across the centre of Hong Kong at a busy lunchtime. I told you it was a good plan. Flawless.

Well almost flawless.

Apart from the fact that when we arrived at the ferry terminal it transpired that there was no 11 am sailing to the airport, but all was not lost there was an 11.30 departure and the flight didn’t leave till ten past 2. We would be checked in at 11.30 and in Hong Kong airport by 12.30. lovely. Apart from the fact that when they said that when travelling to the airport by ferry you had to be checked in 2 hours before your flight what they actually meant was that you had to be at the airport 2 hours before your flight and ‘checking in’ at the ferry terminal didn’t actually count as part of the 2 hour time scale. I was then very calmly informed that if I arrived at 12.30 I wouldn’t be accepted for ‘airport check in’ as I would technically be 20 minutes late and would be sent back to Macau on the next ferry.

OK, so the plan was starting to look a tiny bit flawed now I’ll admit.

It was now 10.40am and time for a hastily constructed plan B.
11am ferry to Hong Kong non airport ferry terminal, there by mid-day, 20 minute taxi to central station then a half hour ride on the airport express. Easily be there by 1pm with an hour and 10 minutes before the plane left. That was do-able. Boarding began at 1.40, but that would be OK. Really we would make it in time. We would.

Plan B was rapidly replaced by a panic stricken and rather desperate Plan C when at 11.15 the 11am ferry was still idling in the dock at Macau.
By 11.20 we were finally under way.
At 12.21 I dragged 2 cases and a very excited Moo in my wake and joined the mercifully short lines at Hong Kong immigration. By 12.40 we were in a taxi heading directly for the airport with the cabbie on a promise of a $50 tip if we got to check in by 10 minutes past 1.
We got to the check in desk at 1.20, but as the cabbie had loaded our bags on a trolley and run them up to the counter himself he got his tip anyway. It’s not his fault there was a torrential downpour on the way there and he had to cut his speed a little.

With boarding passes in hand we hurtled thought the airport towards the gate, which was of course the furthest away, and arrived as they were calling for our row numbers to embark.

To say it was a relief to sink into the seat would be something of an understatement.
During the flight a young lady approached us and told us that she had been through the same panic stricken routine having arrived at Macau expecting the 11am departure, and had seen us on the ferry and was very glad we had made it. She had chosen the HK airport express route as it turns out you can check in at the train station and that does ‘count’. But she had only arrived at the gate minutes before us and had run most of the way. On balance I think with 2 cases and a 5 year old in tow plan C was defiantly our best option.

I am please to report that the rest of our journey was smooth by comparison and I can once again make an airline recommendation. Thai Airways are simply marvellous. Although the flight was only 2 and a half hours we were plied with alcohol almost as soon as we sat down and a lovely meal was served. There was a slight hiccough with meal as they had run out of the one I wanted and I was asked to wait a couple of minutes while they fetched another from elsewhere. When the ‘any more bread rolls’ lady was doing the rounds I mentioned I was still waiting for my meal and less than a minute later it was presented with a glass of champagne by way of apology, then 10 minutes later the steward who had forgotten arrived with a fresh gin and tonic and after that, quite frankly, I couldn’t care less.

There was a brief and incident free change of planes at Bangkok and another quick hop, (this time I thought I had better refuse the G&T if I actually wanted to make it to the hotel in any fit state), to Phuket. Our hotel driver appeared and 40 minutes later we were sipping complimentary check in drinks at the pool-side bar. After a swift coffee in the, very nice, room there was just time to take a dip in the pool before heading off to bed.

I have only been in Thailand for a few hours but I have already been struck by the genuine kindness and gentleness of the people, and by the darkness of the night sky. Coming from the neon lit nights of Macau and Hong Kong I had forgotten how dark the night sky actually is and how brightly the stars can shine.

A bient√īt.