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The article draws heavily from my experiences in Thailand in the midst of flooding. The floods are a good analogy for the recent swings in the world’s financial markets, with both flood victims and investors looking for shelter. The article offers some concrete suggestions to investors on how they can stay afloat during financial turbulence.

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The Fight to Stop Bangkok from Flooding

October 18, 2011

8 a.m. Local Time

Bangkok, Thailand

The Bangkok Post reported that the floodwaters from the Chao Phraya River have reached Sai Mai district less than 20 kilometers from here. Local authorities have advised that although the situation has worsened in the last 48 hours, we are still safe from flooding because we are in a protected area. A large number of government buildings are in the area, and keeping the floods at bay is a priority.

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According to the Post, Sai Mai, which is a couple kilometers from Don Mueang (domestic) Airport, is a strategic battleground. Failure to hold the line puts even more of Bangkok at risk. The flooding has so far moved in waves and covered entire sections of the country with amazing speed. Local residents and work crews are working hard to shore up barriers with dirt and sandbags in order to funnel the floodwaters to the sea, but it’s not clear that their heroic efforts will be enough.

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This seems to be turning into a battle of all or nothing.  Either the defenses hold and the crisis subsides, or soon we will all be underwater.

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Update 7:30 p.m. Local Time

The neighborhood has taken precautions to halt the water if it reaches here. Some streets have been shut down and barricaded with sandbag barriers. Dirt berms have been built over some roads to stop the water from going further. School has been canceled through the end of next week’s school break. We’ve been informed of a hotel where we can find shelter if need be. The water feels closer.

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Tomorrow some of us will go out as far as we can safely to survey the situation. I’ll report back on whatever I find.

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Soi Cowboy

Soi Cowboy is a street near Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok with over 40 restaurants, bars, go-go bars, and nightclubs crammed into a single block smaller than Little Italy. The over-the-top neon signs in English look like something out of Las Vegas.

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The area caters mainly to expatriates and local residents. Soi Cowboy is also a destination for tourists who want a glimpse of Bangkok’s nightlife without ending up in one of the city’s larger red light districts.

Soi (“side street” in Thai) Cowboy was named after T.G. Edwards (no relation), an American who retired in Thailand and was known as “The Cowboy” for his ten-gallon Texan hat and gun belt. T.G. founded the first bar on the street in 1973 and named it after his daughter Loretta. The area was famous for its elephants that paraded down the street as a tourist attraction until the government ended the practice.

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The street has several establishments that cater to those not interested in the seedier side of Bangkok. Try the barbeque or have a beer.

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Soi Cowboy’s relaxed atmosphere means that you can have a quick glance at the place, walk down the street, or have a drink or meal without being hassled.

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While the place is not for everyone, especially children, it offers a glimpse into another side of Thailand’s culture. If you visit Soi Cowboy, it’s important that you still be vigilant and on watch out for theft, scams and rip-offs, and illegal activities. Panhandlers can distract you. Child begging also occurs.


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