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 belovéd, ( even after all these years 😉 ), 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.
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.
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.
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