July 24, 2008

House fire in my soi in Bangkok

As a blog about Thai language and culture, here's one aspect of Bangkok culture I haven't covered before: the culture of putting up with regular house fires.

Everyone at my house was on edge for a few tense minutes yesterday afternoon as a house only about five houses down the soi was consumed by fire in 10 minutes. Here's the result:

My in-laws have lived in the same house for 30 years, in an older part of the city with a mixture of older wooden houses and newer cement ones. We stay with them a few nights a a week. Obviously, this was a wooden house.

I wasn't home, so I only experience the aftermath, and the lack of electricity for seven hours. Nothing to freak you out after a fire like having to eat dinner by candlelight.

This is the second fire this year in our soi. A few months ago the top stories of half a dozen sections of a ตึกแถว building were badly damaged after some incense caught fire. That was much further from us, so this one is scarier. Word in the neighborhood is that kids playing with matches started this one.

Bangkok is no stranger to fires, of course. But if yesterday had been windy,
things could have easily ended up differently!

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