One of Thailand’s most persistent pests – the beautiful but invasive water hyacinth – is once again clogging Bangkok’s waterways. And while Evo didn’t die on a motorbike just yet, a friend of his is in the hospital after his scooter accident. Maybe he’s rethinking his chosen mode of transport?
Motorbike accidents happen. Though this is Thailand, and Thailand holds the ignominious title of deadliest place to ride a motorbike. Last week the inevitable happened to a fellow expat here in Bangkok, though thankfully on a low-speed collision. Will it impact Evo’s decision to ride? You’ll have to listen to find out. But really, that’s not what we’re here to talk about.
The Chao Phraya these days is a little more green than usual. Which sounds good, until you realize the green is from huge, floating islands of plant matter. It happens every year, and we’ve always wondered what it is. Evo took it upon himself to dig deep and has learned a few things about phak tob java, or water hyacinth as it’s commonly known, or Eichhornia crassipes as it’s known to botanists.
Here are few of the things you’ll learn when you listen to this week’s episode
- The royal connection for how the invasive species from South America to Indonesia and finally Thailand
- The immediate nuisance the plant causes for those who make their living on the river
- How the plant contributes to Bangkok’s flooding, which arrived a bit early this year
- A bunch of management techniques that don’t work, and only one that does
- Some good news about how the plant can be used to clean the water, as a textile source, as biomass to generate fuel, and possibly a foodstuff
- But some bad news about the plant’s propensity to kill fish and incubate mosquitos
- A comical tale of how three — or possibly four — different government agencies are passing the buck as they say “not my problem”
Finally, when you fully understand the complexity of the problem, you’ll see why water hyacinth is the perfect metaphor for Bangkok’s bureaucracy. That was meant to be funny, but…
Love, Loathe, or Leave
If you’ve only uttered “Hey Dude, where’s my car” when referencing a cult-classic from the turn of the century, you haven’t left your car — or your motorbike — in a parking lot in Bangkok. It’s a little maddening. The only good news is that your bike probably isn’t stolen. Probably. Listen in to find out how we feel about this totally alien concept to us two expats who’ve been trained to set the parking brake and — obviously — take the keys. But it’s not like that stops people from moving your ride.
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See you next time on The Bangkok Podcast!