Friday, March 25, 2011

(Chiang) Mai-y first earthquake

I arrived in Northern Thailand and felt My First Earthquake today. Chiang Mai is exciting already!

Fortunately for almost everyone (especially this blog, which has permission to be jovial in the circumstances), this one was nothing like as devastating as some of the earthquakes that struck other parts of the world in recent weeks. But at 6.8 magnitude, it was still powerful enough to shake buildings as far away as Bangkok.

I was closer than that - about 100 miles from the epicentre, which was in north-eastern Myanmar - but it all took place far inland, so there were no dangerous waves to worry about. My bungalow swayed gently for about 20 seconds, and that was it.

And he lived to tell the slightly disappointing tale

A temple in Chiang Mai this evening, before the earthquake hit.
(It's still there and everything)

It wasn't exactly 2012. My lamp and Wi-Fi were still working, there was no commotion in the neighbourhood outside apart from some jangling wind chimes, and even the unidentified bird that's been perched outside and making a sound exactly like a teddy bear's squeaker didn't seem to care.

Is this what you've been trying to warn us about all day, mysterious squeaking bird? If only we'd listened to you. And if only your useless message hadn't been as impossibly cryptic as Nostradamus 'predicting' the World Trade Center attacks. I hate you.

When I felt the shake, I instantly recalled the sage advice Oliver passed on about doorways being the safest places to stand when inside, but it was over soon enough. Well, except it apparently wasn't, but I didn't notice the aftershocks - I guess I was too busy writing this.

Between blogging during natural disasters and taking photos of potentially venomous snakes rather than running away, I am taking the piss out of fate in a big way and deserve everything that will inevitably come my way. I just hope I can cling onto the precipice for enough time to blog about it.

But instead of being shaken (figuratively), I was elated. I had felt the raw power of the Earth, like I'd imagined I had when I stared into the gaping maw of Vesuvius, long overdue for its next eruption, and part of me had wished it would blast my face off. What a way to go!

Red herring?

Oliver's blind confidence in his assertion that various natural disasters taking place around the world were somehow his fault was shaken recently (like Myanmar - ha ha! Oh, one woman died apparently. Sorry) when we met someone who, it turned out, actually had a much stronger claim to being the Harbinger of Death than Oliver had.

Except she didn't go on about it all the time, or write an overlong blog after being involved in a mediocre earthquake. Oh, that last one was me. To be honest, I've been living off Oliver's anecdote for ages as a fun conversation piece, so I'm glad I'm finally getting stories of my own. Now if only there was some way to edit or delete all this.

Oliver was still in Thailand at 8.55PM, so according to his own rules could not have been responsible. I know this because he sent me an email shortly after, writing about unrelated conversations he'd had with dodgy tuk-tuk drivers and a guy with 'EVIL' tattooed on his throat (when everyone else was tweeting about their buildings shaking - I love this guy).

Mary, on the other hand, left Thailand earlier today. She was staying in Bangkok after leaving Myanmar, which is where the earthquake took place. Do I smell a plot twist?

Like Maggie shooting Mr Burns or the amusement park owner being pointlessly unmasked as the villain of the piece in Wayne's World's excellent Scooby Doo ending, it was the person you least expected (and who hadn't even shown up in the story until its too-convenient conclusion) all along! Maybe it's enough that Oliver has learned his lesson, whatever exactly that is, and we can rest assured that the world will be safe as long as this woman is never allowed to set foot outside Ireland again.

Well that's all obviously above scrutiny, but where does it leave Japan?

This would all tie up so neatly if Japan could somehow be accounted for - a place neither of the damned have yet visited. I have a new respect for you Creationists, moon landing conspiracy theorists and other evidence sceptics: stretching your tenuous hypotheses beyond their elastic limits and hoping no one will notice it's such obvious bullshit you're spouting can be a really tough job!

Maybe I'll keep writing this, even though I'm really tired. I'm not scared to sleep or anything. Definitely not. Hopefully see you tomorrow.


  1. I have a theory on this. It's still me! Give me the attention!

    If you look at the cold hard facts, this has been the rough disaster timeline in relation to me: about a month after I go, about a month after I leave, a couple of weeks after me and then a few hours after I go. The clear pattern is that whoever's behind these senseless attacks on me ("God"?) is still trying to get the hang of timing his ("His"?) natural disaster machine. There seems to be a difference between 'brewing' time and 'hitting' time.

    If you continue the pattern one of three things will happen: there will be a disaster within minutes of me leaving somewhere, there will be a disaster while I'm actually in a city, there will be a disaster before I arrive somewhere.

    I'm going to focus on the third option.

    We both know Mary had been to Myanmar. I was very interested by the country when she spoke about it and was thinking seriously about visiting. I'm pretty sure I told you this. She also gave me her guidebook and some visa advice. If someone ("God"?) is omnipresent and omnipotent, he would know of my plans. (Just like he ["He"?] knew of my plans to go to Cairns which led to him ["Him"?] destroying the place for no reason.)

    As well as going to Myanmar, I was planning to go to Chiang Mai. I find it hard to believe that it's just a coincidence that the day you arrive there (or the day after?), after spending a few days in my company, you feel the effects of the warning shot.

    Now it would seem silly for me to go to Myanmar and Chiang Mai. Surely they're not safe? Surely only a fool would now travel there?

    But why -- WHY? -- would someone ("God"?) want to warn me away from these places? The answer is simple. What is the one thing I have planned for Chaing Mai? To get blessed. If I manage to remove the curse that's been set on me, it means the price on my head will be gone. If that happens, then I've somehow managed to avoid CERTAIN death over the past six months. Presumably this would be the first failure experienced by someone ("God"?). Can't be having that!

    I predict that the disaster timeline will have a pendulum effect. Now that it's gone right through to 'just before I go', it'll probably swing back now. The next one will probably be precariously close to me going somewhere.

    I feel sorry for Mary getting mixed up in all of this. Hopefully she's safe in Ireland because I can't think of a reason for that to be damaged because of me. I did go to Dublin once, but it was before I was cursed. (If something happens in Ireland any time soon I might have to rethink my theory.)

    I have no idea how Japan fits into any of this.

    (For some reason I can't comment if I'm logged in. I just get taken to a Blogger page written in what looks like gobbledegook.)

  2. I tried to get a blessing for you today, as a placebo more than anything - candles, incense, scrolls and stuff - but it all went wrong. Either you are supposed to come here yourself, or I don't know how to use a rubbish lighter properly, having never smoked. Which is more likely though?

  3. You Oliver really think you're cursed hey? You're still on to living a "Hurley" (LOST character) kind of life. If that's the case, then I reckon you should buy a lottery ticket and then maybe you could buy us all a holiday to one of the islands hey?!(that sounds interesting though.

    Hey Dave, for some reason I didn't felt the shake... Oh by the way, I didn't mention it to you guys that night you were all talking about the curse. I know I am not cursed for sure, but so far I am only aware of the incidents from the Philippine biggest flood in 2009 from the Typhoon Ondoy, I wasn't in the Philippines I was in Brisbane, Australia. A year after, I'm back in Manila and heard the news about Brisbane flood. When recent tsunami hit Japan, we were all in Bangkok and Philippines have high alerts from that and now that I'm back in the Philippines again, I missed the earthquake in Thailand. I'm lucky that way I reckon.

    For some reason, why the hell did we all end up in the same group in Khao San? and to think 'Rainbow' Guesthouse is the name of the guesthouse which should be a sign that these should all come to an end having us all together in that same guesthouse that acts like 'The Island', not to mention evil is around the guesthouse came to life from the Indian guy's tattoo on his neck, but guess what? I became friends with him few hours before I left, and that is few hours after I saw Oliver and Eddie walking out to the temples. He hugged me goodbye too, so I reckon the evil has left me alone and will not do any harm to me anymore. :)

  4. Oliver! James still hasn't got his passport and he's having to jump through hoops to get an emergency one today but it's looking unlikely. And he's from IRELAND- sounds like a natural disaster to me! (if you count James's stupidity as natural).

  5. James, the man who sometimes forgets to get dressed before going to work, being stupid is in no way a sign of a natural disaster.

    I came to this thread to copy and paste something in an e-mail to Dave. I think I have proof of the pendulum theory.

  6. You just reminded me of one of my favourite James Cave stories. People in my hostel are wondering why the silent guy spontaneously laughed.

  7. Reading this back, I realise the 'squeaking bird' was a gecko. What a naive, blundering, incredibly handsome young nincompoop I was!