21 May, 2007

Chiangmai Rocks. Slight earthquake wobbles the Golden Triangle region

The earth moved for us the other day. Measured 6.1 on the Richter scale. But it was more side-to-side than the photo would have you believe.

Earthquakes are fun for the entire family. Try to imagine that wild giddy sensation in the eyes after a few red wines. Now attempt to balance on a large floppy dead squid while standing upright in a small dinghy.

The brain takes a while to figure out what the hell’s going on - for the first 10 seconds (out of the total of about 30+ seconds) it interprets the wobbles as your own unsteadiness. You must be drunk. Your brain knows for certain that the earth can’t move, so it must be yourself doing the moving, yes? Then you notice the study door over there is swinging to and fro through an arc of about 2” either way, and it ain’t me shakin' it. So you relay that new information to your brain.

Now your brain re-calculates that it’s actually the world doing the moving. Immediately, you feel less drunk. OK, now WTF was Step 1 in the Earthquake Manual again? Aw, forget books, we’d better make it up as we go. Grab the mobile. Head for a safe spot. Hear a cracking sound. Jesus on a bicycle, where’s a safe spot…? …should have thought about it before this. Run round in circles for another 20 seconds until it’s stopped wobbling and creaking. In those 20 seconds of (clearer?) thought you’ve selected and rejected about 10 possible ‘safe’ spots where furniture or objects can’t fall on you. Take the laptops, lock the door, head downstairs – literally, not in the lift – and scoff a debriefing O.J. from the drink-stall across the road. Expecting aftershocks. The vendor, accustomed to things like this, says they only felt the quake ‘nit-noy’, so the movement was obviously amplified by our location 15 floors up.

An ancient Asian device for detecting tremors.
Finely balanced balls would drop from the dragon’s mouthes.

Apparently a few more bricks and bits of plaster rattled off the ancient Wat Chedi Luang in Chiangmai. See it while you can.
We get asked all the time if we’re at risk from tsunamis here. The answer is that we’re 1100 metres above sea level, and an hour’s flight from the coast. However, we’ve discovered the real reason for the 2004 Asian Tsunami – it was tourists like this:

...but we've moved into a new house, just to be sure...

…and (of course) FunkyPix2 can always spot a marketing opportunity:

I found this website in which the (American) author describes what is thought necessary to survive an earthquake. Apparently you need packets of Oatmeal Cream Cakes. Check out the photos.

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