After yesterdays blog about the continuing drought affecting Ubon Ratchathani I received an email from Bob with two photos showing a very dry time more then 40 years ago.
Both these photos were taken in 1969. The first one shoes a dry river bed somewhere close to Ubon while the second photo is of the Mekong River at a very low level near Nakhon Phanom. Thanks Bob for allowing me to publish these. If anyone else has old photos of Ubon that you think others would be interested in then please email them to me.
*Edit* I asked Bob about the tiny truck in the photo and he just emailed me back a reply which said in part “I bought the Honda truck new in December 1968 for $1,200 US (or 24,000 baht at that time). It was powered by a 360cc motorcycle engine, held two people in the cab and could easily hold six more people in the bed. It was small.”
Four weeks ago I wrote about the drought that Thailand was experiencing. You can read it here. I do not know the current situation for the rest of Thailand but I am saddened to report that not much has changed here in Ubon Ratchathani.
I have just had a 48 hour visit from two friends of mine this weekend just gone. They are both Kiwis and come from a country where the word drought is hardly ever heard unless they are listening to an Aussie farmer crying into his beer at the pub. On day two of their visit I took them and my kids out to the village for a look around. Both these blokes are ex farmers and have lived in Thailand for many many years so there wasn’t much new and exciting that I could show them. We were however all shocked by looking at the effect the drought was having.
Many farmers have replanted while many others haven’t even bothered yet. We saw many crops that will die if they did not receive rain in the next few days. Here is a photo showing an example of this.
When we arrived in the village we were told that my brother in law was out working on our farm (we have a share farming arrangement) so we dropped in on him to have a look and say hello. He had pumped some water from a low lying paddock into the one next door so that he could dig up the soil and level it. As we watched him and had a look around we also noticed some dark looking clouds rolling in. Imagine our delight for the locals when by the time we left it had started to rain.
Here is Khum, my brother in law hard at work in the rain.
We left with rain falling all around us and pressed on to a late lunch at my friend Tronds place. It continued to rain all afternoon so I was really disappointed when I found out the next day that just minutes after we left the village it stopped raining and didn’t start again!
I worry for all the farmers around here who live from harvest to harvest. There just aren’t enough jobs in Bangkok for everyone so what will happen with a lot of them is that they will approach the local loan sharks for some cash to tie them over. They will need to use their farm deeds as collateral and as most of the interest rates charged are illegal, unethical and downright stealing many will find themselves homeless by this time next year.