September 30, 2011

Mind the manhole(s)!

Category: Thaism

Ever since an acquaintance from a long time ago told me a story about how he has seen one too many unfortunate incident of people walking on what seemed like covered manholes, and then unexpectedly falling through them within seconds, I have developed a little paranoia around them.

There are plenty of such manholes here in Bangkok. And, don’t be surprised if you encounter severely damaged manholes within a 50-meter stretch in a single Bangkok soi.

Every day I see them, and every day, without fail, I will deliberately avoid them, preferring to walk around them, rather than on them. Even if they looked covered, in my mind, there is a chance that they might just give way. And I am consciously doing this, even when I am out of Bangkok.

Perhaps I have developed an unnatural fear for manholes over the years since I heard the story, and after seeing what I saw today, I am convinced that my fear is not unfounded.

Today, as I took my normal route to the office, I stumbled upon a crowd congregating almost in the middle of a road crossing. All traffic came to a standstill, and wondering what it might have been, I decided to be a kaypo and looked closer.

As I got closer to the scene, I instantly saw a woman clinging on to a guy, and from where I was, realized that I could only see her upper half torso. She did not look like she was in a comfortable position and her face looked scarily pale. At the same time, more people gathered around her and several people all around were pulling all sorts of equipment and devices (?) they could get their hands on to get the metal rung off from the sides (?). From the distance of where I was, I could see that her legs up to her knee seemed stuck in the shoddy-looking manhole grate.

There was even more crowd forming around her, and unfortunately, in the same breath, I did not think that there was anything I could do for her. Hence, rather than hinder the “rescue operation” and be a useless voyeur, I decided that I should walk away.

I did not want to take any photos. And deep in my heart, I hope the lady did not break any bones, and somehow, someone would be able to pry her off that heinous looking hole with whatever devices (?) they had, and really hoping that someone actually called for a professional help!

That was quite a scary sight, and surely, that calls for a certain bound to happen accident while walking on the streets of Bangkok. And, I happen to walk there. Every.single.friggin.day.

Looking for news on that later in the day, I chanced upon this article here written way back in 1998. The solution to dangerous manholes that can cause injury was quite classic – get officials to undertake manhole watch.

Whatever that means, I hope it did not mean what I think it meant…And what saddens me more about it is that precaution needed to be taken, because the Governor himself has fallen into it and sufferred some injuries himself. Right.

Looking on, I stumbled upon a posting on “12 sure-fire way to seriously injure yourself on a Bangkok sidewalk”. That was written in 2009, and almost 3 years later, NOTHING has changed, and I think I know where some of those exact locations are.

And I remembered I did a rant on the commuting nightmare in Bangkok a while back…

Thailand, glorious, Thailand. You really blew my mind.


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