Environment & NatureThailand

Was Thailand’s earthquake a lucky escape?

Maybe we have just had a lucky escape! The futility of man’s never ending attempts to control the world is never more in evidence than in the wake of a ‘natural disaster’. The complete domination of our planet by mother nature is something the human race still appears to have a problem coming to terms with for some inexplicable reason. Thailand’s earthquake in Chiang Rai is another reminder.

50 kilometres north of my home near Chiang Mai, in the district of Mae Lao, a shallow earthquake (which usually causes more damage) measuring 6.3 temblor struck at 6 pm on Monday 5th May 2014. The tremors were felt 800kms away in Bangkok so in my village we had quite a severe shock for, what seemed like an age, but was probably only 20 seconds. However, this was quite enough time to send my pulse racing and the adrenalin pumping. There have been 180 aftershocks, which, although still disconcerting, were not as traumatic. (ABC News report 5th May)

According to reports, Thailand’s earthquake killed one person and injured several dozens. Chiang Rai airport was evacuated due to some structural problems and considerable damage has severely affected the main 118 highway between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. (Bangkok Post report 6th May). Wat Rong Khun (the famous white temple) has been closed to visitors indefinitely.

img_0092 Was Thailand's earthquake a lucky escape?
Wat Rong Khun – Chiang Rai

Fortunately, my village suffered no damage to property but the shock to the system affected many people. The weird feeling that everything around you is moving uncontrollably is disorienting, bizarre and definitely scary. If you have ever suffered from vertigo then you will have a sense of how it feels, only much worse.  The most frightening thing is the realisation that, although Thailand’s earthquake was a natural phenomenon because it is not something you are likely to have experienced, the feeling is totally unnatural. In an instant, you realise how insignificant you are, completely powerless, at the mercy of mother earth who can do her thing whenever she wants regardless. Yes, we are an integral part of the natural world but on a short stay – ‘bed and breakfast’ if you like. Any aspirations of a more permanent nature are purely delusional and an earthquake is a sharp reminder.

I am a great admirer of the Dalai Lama and understand when he says we should not worry about the things we can do nothing about. But it is not so easy when your very existence is threatened, in an instant, by nature. I have always believed that we should welcome, embrace and strive to understand all things natural. After the earthquake I may modify of those beliefs a little. One fatality is one too many but we are all relieved that this quake has not caused more serious damage.

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