Thailand

When the power goes out in Thailand

fire-on-the-wire-2
THAT’S a fire. When should I panic? I will panic now. [Chiang Rai, 2015]
I’m not entirely sure what causes a power line to catch on fire, in the rain, on the first day of a major Thai holiday, but it did right at our apartment.

Sometimes I feel like I complain a lot about Thailand because this past year has been an uphill one and maybe because I’ve been here too long. But this morning was restorative as my b/f and I watched the electricians climb up the power tower and work together to bring electricity back to our building.

Soon after I forced myself out of bed this morning (I’m on vacation after all!) the lights went out and the generator kicked in (perks of apt living), but nothing happened so we went on to our deck to see what was happening.

The electrical wire was on fire.

We ran downstairs to tell the front desk, but when we arrived the power company was already there at the front of the building attending to another power tower (sorry, I don’t know what to call these guys over here). I told them about the fire, but they already knew and didn’t seem terribly bothered by it. My first instinct when I see a fire is to pour water on it, but apparently this is NOT what you are supposed to do in this case.

This, of course, wasn’t the first time I’ve experienced a power failure in Thailand. It happens often enough, depending on where you live. And since I lived in five different places in Chiang Mai, I can say the city center is less likely to have problems than the outskirts. When I lived in my glorified cabin in the bamboo woods, we frequently lost power whenever it was stormy or windy.

At that house, I learned to appreciate a gas stove and when my water was not connected to an electrical pump, my water supply, too. I remember when I came back from a family holiday in Austria to a house completely devoid of electricity. All I desperately wanted was a hot shower, but instead I sat in the dark talking on the phone while my cats meowed around me.

But the school I taught at in Chiang Mai had a few power outages and we were told to teach through it despite the lack of light and air conditioning. Have you tried to keep your students’ attention when the power is out? Not an easy task. Although, one time I remember we sat around the candle we were given by the manager and told ghost stories. Thais (and Hawaiians, I might add) love ghost stories.

In Mililani Hawaii, where I grew up, all of the power lines are buried underground. I’m very proud to be from a town that was well-planned and beautifully free of electricity poles and wires, billboard ads – and lined with tall large trees. (I’ll take pictures when I’m there! Leaving very soon!)

So when I was on the Mainland (the Continental US) as a 13 year old seeing the incredible electric power transmissions and lines stretching across the land, through the Interstates and freeways, it was rather fascinating and I was a little awestruck as well.

In Thailand, however, the power lines look like a complete mess and a serious safety hazard. The power towers are rather ugly and crude looking and very close to living spaces. They are hard to appreciate until the electricity is out and you realize how much of your livelihood depends on it.

Bangkok wires
A bundle of joy [Bangkok, 2015]
Today is the first day of the Thai New Year, Songkran. It’s a very big deal here and one of two major holidays where Thais have enough time off to take a long vacation (Songkran is officially four days). So, today is the equivalent of our Christmas. Nothing is open. And to see the electricians out there in the pouring rain, smiling and replacing the burned bundle was, for lack of a better expression, a treat.

The electric guys
The electric guys, rope pulley system and bamboo ladder…

Normally, we sit in the dark and wonder how long things will take. Normally we have no idea what is going on and what is, if anything, being done. But this was not normal. We watched, discussed what we thought was going on and could see how close/far things were progressing. Psychologically, it was a fantastic way to deal with the power outage.

This experience also allowed me to appreciate what the workers did and do. More often than not, we can’t see what is happening, but if we did, we’d feel like equals, like we mattered and we wouldn’t feel left in the semi-darkness. This reminds me of Brian Regan’s standup routine where he talks about how he wants to get his phone line turned on. I mean, this is how we usually figure things are…

brian-regan
Click on the screenshot to go to the VID or go here: https://youtu.be/Kmmgx_jPlKI

When it was really pissing down (why does the British God do this?), the electricians were not working and so my b/f and I talked about the safety issues, the workmans’ boots that allowed them to climb up the tower and our creative endeavors and how disheartened I have felt of late. He was encouraging and reminded me that I needed to keep on writing.

Thank you Thailand for another memorable Songkran.

What have been your power outage experiences in Thailand? Abroad or at home?

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40 thoughts on “When the power goes out in Thailand

    1. It was crazy! The picture does not do it justice. It’s wild to see a fire on a power line next to your apt. And so strange on such a rainy day, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Though the fire bit was exciting, must not have been very nice waking up to no power. It must be bad when the power lines start burning…you never know if the power lines are gone for good.

    My family and I had a lot of these power outages when we lived in Malaysia. They usually happened during a storm, power tripped and it could be between half an hour to a few hours before things went back to normal. The only time I remember the power going out in my apartment here in Australia was a few years ago in the summer – that day the temperature was around 43’C or something. And I had no air-conditioning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, we weren’t sure if anyone would be around for the holiday, but thankfully everyone was up and taking care of business. I can’t help but wonder if the power tower at the front caused some sort of problem with the behind it.

      At any case, Malaysia is a lot like Hawaii and Thailand, I would imagine, with storms causing all sorts of problems with debris and palm frons on power lines.Thankfully, today has been cool!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. i have heard that it is raining more than usual this year and power has been out several times in other locations as well. A little odd to me.

    I have been traveling and can tell you it is raining alot in Malasia to Singapore, too. My next stop is Bali.

    i was amazed to ever have power in Thailand after looking at the crisscrossed mess they do of wiring. How does it ever work and how do they know where to fix it?

    Hang in there. It feels to me like something wonderful is just waiting to happen to you. :>)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bali! You lucky cat ^^

      Yes, they were actually very effecient and professional. Now to see them with those crazy tangled lines would have REALLY been interesting, but they had to replace just the line that caught of fire.

      Thanks for your encouraging words! 😀

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  3. Yes, keep on writing!, you are a terrific writer and I like your humour too.
    When will you be coming back from Hawaii?

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    1. Well, I’d like to think they were targeting me specifically since I’m SO important, but alas, I think in this case it was just an accident. 😛

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  4. I am knocking on wood as I type this but so far we haven’t had too many issues with the power being out… a couple hours here or there, but no generator for us. But its not really that necessary. I am glad you are still writing. And that you have such a supportive and encouraging b/f! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmm. Maybe we get more stormy weather up north? That can’t be so? Surely the weather must get really fierce at the beach!

      I’ll be sure to tell the b/f 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s not too bad… Lots of thunderstorms during the rainy season but more bark than bite really. I love them, the sound of the thunder which makes the whole shake… I don’t know, it’s just so damn awe inspiring. 🙂

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  5. No air conditioning is torture! Should be outlawed by international human rights organizations.

    I do recognize those crude power cords.

    Happy new year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Yes, we all have to make do when we have do. I’d imagine China (and I’ve seen pictures of India) has the same bundles of madness, too.

      Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an electrical fire before, and I have not idea how to put it out without doing a Google search. Electricity is something we always take for granted, so I bet it would be a rude awakening for me if the power went out.

    I hope you feel better (aka less disheartened)! Looking forward to more of your writing and your photos of Hawaii! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you ^^ The talk yesterday did me some good. Since we were forced to “unplug” we just talked and that was nice.

      And we did talk about how much we depend and rely on electricity. Why does something have to be taken away for us to appreciate it?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. That bundle of (wiring) joy looks horrendous!! I’m certain the Thai workers have less safety gear than our folks here in major North American cities.

    I can imagine teaching in a darkened class.

    There was a major electrical transformer explosion in downtown Toronto, which left several office towers without power/lights. I was working for the Ontario courts …and in a library that served judges.

    We evacuated. …But the Chief Justice/the head judge refused and with 2 other judges heard a case for awhile. I couldn’t believe it. I believe the court rooms have enough high heritage paned windows for natural daylight…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Normally I would agree with you, Jean, but I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw the workers harness themselves to the tower. Usually, you just see Thais climb up a bamboo ladder in barefeet and the extent of safety is the guy at the bottom holding the ladder.

      But these guys were wearing yellow helmets, heavy workman’s gloves, thick heavy boots with the rods attached to them that allowed them to put the rods into the concrete pillars and climb up and down. Seriously!

      I’ve certainly NEVER seen that kind of safety on construction sites! But we were wondering about them working in the rain…

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  8. Wow those wires look really tangled! We’ve seen transformers or wires blow – one at my workplace, where a squirrel must have been chewing on a wire, and another outside my house. Both times there were fires. Not many underground wires here in New York state! LOL

    My brother lived in Maui for 15 years. I miss visiting him! I can’t way to see your pics.

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    1. I did do a little reading up on power lines and such and it does seem critters and trees are the big causes of fires and mishaps. Poor squirrel.

      Looking forward the the vacay and sharing along the way. Cheers!

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  9. How heart warming to see the workers restoring power during the holiday.
    Growing up in Nigeria, at a point power outtages were the norm. People who could afford it had generators and inverters and just got on with life.

    I like how you captioned, “bundle of joy” 😄
    Lani, you put humour into serious issues!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh Thailand, you land of lax health and safety laws.

    On my drive to work the other day I saw a group of workmen using the bundle of wires overhead (not dissimilar to your picture) to rest their ladder on.

    Now, I don’t pretend to be an expert but I’m fairly sure that might lead to knocking the power out and/or death.

    As for British God always raining on you is it because you lied when you were 17?

    Hope you had a great Songkran mate 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Har, har, har.

      Yeah, I’m surprised we don’t see more people falling from bamboo ladders *splat* and getting electrocuted. *zztzzt*

      Songkran was great b/c I went to Hawaii! Ha, ha! In fact I’m still here…will return to the land of safety soon. Wishing you and your family well 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahhhhh Hawaii – a place I’ve never been to.

        Never seen workmen related death but I did almost see a women get killed by traffic because her and her boyfriend were having a row by the side of the road and she ran straight out onto the four lane highway over the Songkran break.

        It wasn’t much fun if I’m honest.

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  11. That would be scary to me to see the power lines on fire! I’m glad that the workers were there to resolve it quickly and safely. I also hope you will be more expired to keep writing and being creative! I enjoy your writing immensely!

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  12. This type of thing certainly has us appreciate power when we have it! Over here in Maui our lines are above ground and driving during hurricane times can be very hazardous. Especially driving to west side Lahaina for work from Kihei. I forget how vulnerable we are here sometimes even with our water supply as our water treatment facility is at sea level and our water supply gets contaminated easily. Speaking of Hawaii, Are you are on vacation here? Or did you visit recently? Keep breathing in the calm energy and staying grounded in more ways than one. Much love to you. Robyn

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey Lani was offline for one month working in the dental service business here in Maui. Always feeling connected and feeling a post coming on! light years in inner shifts seem to be happening in this multidimensional time warp we seem to be living in! Glad you got a vaca! Much love Robyn

        Liked by 1 person

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