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Bangkokians Escaping to Pattaya

Drew Noyes Pattaya Times newspaper and website 07.11.2011 12:19
Almost all the traffic on Pattaya's Sukhumvit Highway is coming from Bangkok.

Almost all the traffic on Pattaya's Sukhumvit Highway is coming from Bangkok.


Estimates are that each day 20,000 more people from Bangkok are arriving in Pattaya to escape the flood waters, food shortages and misery of Bangkok. Pattaya is welcoming these new arrivals and accommodating them in every way. The 1337 Call Center at Pattaya City Hall, the Tourism Authority of Thailand Office on Pratamnak Hill, the Tourist Police, Banglamung Police, Highway Police and Pattaya Police at Soi 9 are all pitching in to assist new arrivals in need of food and shelter.



"Pattaya welcomes everybody and we will all do our best to make our guests feel at home," said Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome.

"We are also making sure our residients are getting the services they need and are tending to the poor and elderly," he added.

The floods are occurring because Thai meteorologists predicted that there would be a drought this year in Thailand so all five dams were ordered to retain water levels at full capacity without draining off small amounts each day after a rain storm as usual. However, the rainfall has been the most severe amounts since the last 65 years and the dams were so full that if they were not opened they would all be destroyed by the water pressure.

The amount of rain was calculated at two million cubic meters per minute and the speed of the water from the released dams was flowing as fast as 15 million cubic meters per minute into Bangkok.  Damage to property is approaching the US $10 billion mark.

His Majesty the King said for the people to let the water flow through Bangkok and do not try to save his Grand Palace.  However the, the Army is doing all in its power to protect the Grand Palace and have surrounded the palace with sand bags as high as five meters.

More than 2,000 crocodiles have been released from farms by the massive flooding and to this date only 20 have been captured. This adds  to the fears of wading in the streets of Bangkok.

Why Pattaya?

Many people in Bangkok made the decision to come to Pattaya because of the availability of food with the extensive number of supermarkets here, the large number of rooms available and the advancement of the infrastructure here to guard against extensive flood damage.

Infrastructure

The Pattaya infrastructure under the Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome is so well-developed that the roads are less likely to flood than in Bangkok with the extensive drainage systems that have been installed recently.  The highways into Pattaya numbered 7, 3, 331 and others are in very good condition and were not closed like the Asia highway which impeded travel in other directions out of Bangkok. The water fresh supply is very good in Pattaya and public transportation has not been affected much. In Bangkok and the airport most taxi drivers fled to protect their homes upcountry. However, most baht bus and motorcycle drivers in Pattaya live in Pattaya permanently.

Food Shortages Unlikely in Pattaya

The extensive number of supermarkets in Pattaya and more 7-Elevens than any other city in Asia per capita makes Pattaya a logical place to shop for food and fresh water. However, like all other cities in Thailand, Pattaya retail food supermarkets depend on distribution centers to keep stock coming to replenish empty shelves.

The city of Wung Noi in Ayutthaya warehouses all the food for the two large Tesco Lotus stores and the five Tesco Lotus Express stores in Pattaya. It is under five meters of flood water which is stagnant.  Tesco has had their supply deliveries affected the most.  Yet, there is still food available locally because the stores are so massively large with storage facilities with stockpiles in the back of each store.

The three Big C stores, two Tops supermarkets, and four Tops Daily stores in Pattaya are owned by Central Retail in the Central Group of Companies. They have many suppliers all over Thailand with firm contracts for meats, vegetables, fruits, canned goods and all food supplies , so  the shelves are being restocked at all locations as of this writing.

There are hundreds of 7-Eleven stores in Pattaya and are owned by CP Group which also has suppliers all over Thailand. So the food warehoused in the Eastern Seaboard is plentiful and Pattaya will most likely be able to provide food and fresh water for its residents, usual visits and the Bangkokians and families from flood affected areas that are coming here.

Of the 656 FamilyMarts in Thailand more than 80 franchises are in Pattaya. The owner is Siam FamilyMart Co., Ltd. has operations with Siam DCM Co., Ltd. a distribution and wholesaling company. By making great use of the demand-chain management (DCM) expertise developed by FamilyMart in Japan. Family Marts will be able to keep the shelves restocked in Pattaya.

Room Shortages Due to Extensive Demand are Problematic

Rooms are being held for tourists who have advanced bookings. Estimates are that since October 25, 20,000 people a day are rushing out of Bangkok taking refuge from the flood in Pattaya. These welcomed “refugees” from the floods of Bangkok are finding it difficult to find a room for rent in Pattaya, as nearly all of the rooms available are occupied. Pattaya Times surveyed the top 50 hotels in Pattaya and there were no vacancies at all. In fact, room rates were quite high due to extensive demand. Even guest houses and weekly condo rentals were all full.

According to Patcharin Sawetrat, assistant director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's Pattaya office about 80 per cent of hotel rooms in Pattaya are already occupied by tourists from Russia and Europe, leaving only 20 percent availability for those fleeing the flood in Bangkok.

Mrs. Patcharin said there were still rooms available at condominiums, houses for rent, serviced apartments and guesthouses.  However, most of them prefer to lease their rooms with monthly or yearly contracts. Most of the flood refugees wanted to stay for only two weeks to one month, she said.


Bangkok drivers crowd Pattaya streets.

Bangkok drivers crowd Pattaya streets.





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