Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Thunder And Lightning One Morning In Pattaya

As a writer I tread a thin line regarding the legality of "working" in Thailand without a work visa - something I've never felt compelled to do. The details aren't important here, but suffice it to say I don't sit and work as I normally do at home when I'm in the Land of Smiles just to keep my conscience clear.  I'll make notes and record bits to spark my memory once I'm back in the USA, but I don't write, per se.

Nevertheless, that's what I was doing one grey morning in Pattaya, sitting with my back to the sliding patio doors while waiting for a phone call when suddenly there was a stunningly bright FLASH that lit the room, followed immediately by sharp, startlingly loud CRACK from behind me.

The lights in the room blinked off and then on again, and a muffled shriek came from just down the hall outside of my suite.  The flash was lightning, the almost immediate booming sound was the thunder less than a kilometer away and the shriek I learned from a housekeeping woman a little while later was from her, surprised at the jolt in the service elevator she shared with her cart at the moment of "impact".

In all honesty, being more of a city boy than a country boy this was a novelty I didn't know enough to be wary of, so with the smell of ozone beginning to waft into my suite through the open window I picked up my camera and waltzed out onto the balcony, sitting down in my preferred lounge chair and settled in to watch the show.  I wasn't disappointed: there were dozens of bolts hitting nearby.

As a child many of us were told to count "one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three" after seeing a lightning strike, each count supposedly indicating a mile between us and where the bolt occurred, and I guess my warning ought to have been that I barely got to "one th..." before the blast of thunder arrived a couple of times, but I guess what a Thai friend has told me often enough in the past was true: "it not your time," so here I am to tell the tale.

In addition to the few bolts the camera caught directly, you can see the bright flashes on the side of a couple of buildings below my rooms, and what appear to be video "glitches" are merely electronic interference courtesy of the lightning. I didn't know it could do that to a digital video, but I noted it happening at the time, and any day I learn something new isn't a total waste, I suppose! At least I wasn't hanging onto the stainless steel railing and resisted the temptation to head up to the rooftop garden... even I know not to do that.

The storm passed in about 20 minutes, the streets dried in another hour and it was a marvelous day... complete with a morning light show.


Anonymous said...

Five seconds equals one mile. Three seconds equals one kilometer.

Half a second equals OMG!


khunbaobao said...

That's a fine example, Mahjongguy - and when that first flash and crash seemed to arrive at the same time as I sat at my desk it's more or less what I shouted at the moment, myself - although I think I'd included the "F" word, too!

Like I said, I could smell the unmistakable scent of ozone mixed with a bit of something else burning, which led me to believe it may have been my 28+ story hotel's tower that took the hit, but that wasn't the case. Still, it sure livened up the morning.