Thailand Natural and Not-So-Natural Disasters

Some parts of the world seem to experience more than their fair share of hardship. Consider typhoon and tsunami-prone Thailand, whose recent months of political unrest have heaped threats of violence on top of an already naturally precarious region. When news broke of the recent coup, travelers and expats were warned to expect everything from flight cancelations to a shutdown of English language news sources. At the beginning of June, CNN reported that “Normality Resumes: Curfews lifted in three Thai hot spots,” but many experts encouraged most people to prepare for any number of disaster scenarios. For example, noted that in the event of an Internet blackout, travelers and residents would be unable to draw cash from an ATM, and vendors could not process credit cards. An article from, a specialized news outlet, passes along recommendations from foreign institutions within Thailand, reminding people to keep electronics charged, to plan on delays in travel time, and to keep in contact with their embassies. The US embassy even offers a program to American citizens abroad called the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which helps disseminate safety instructions in case of an emergency. And, of course, in the midst of all this uncertainty, we’re headed into tropical storm season. Predictions for the 2014 season in the Central Pacific, according to the US State Department, anticipate a normal to “above-normal” season. The same agency (and the same link) provides a useful set of protocols for travelers visiting areas like Thailand in the event of a hurricane or typhoon. Weather Underground gives us a nice preparedness checklist for the same situation; and our Hurricane Preparedness mini series (along with a great collection of related resources) can be found in the links at the end of our article, “How to Prepare for a Hurricane.” Whether the disasters we experience are natural, man-made, or both, we can be prepared to ride out the worst. To learn more about what’s going on in Thailand, check out the Businessweek article, “Thai Junta Ends Curfew, Puts Out Welcome Mat for Tourists.” Do you have any experiences dealing with disasters abroad? -Stacey
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