No escape from "Ondoy" in Siem Reap

8:29 PM


"Ondoy" hit Manila the Saturday morning I flew out to Singapore. I remember looking out the glass wall of Terminal three, wondering if we would be given the thumbs up despite the torrential downpour. We did and thus flew out and arrived in a surprisingly sunny lion city.  

Upon knocking at her front door, my friend Jenie welcomed me with “Tawagan mo yung pamilya mo. Bumabaha na sa Pinas!”  I did and they reassured me that they were okay. What they didn’t tell me was that the piano wasn’t . We’ve never experienced flooding in our part of the city so I never thought that the house could actually be hip-deep under water.

I spent five days in Singapore in total oblivion.  I was in town for the Formula One night race, an item on my bucket list, and spent the first two days in utter bliss. The next three were a drag, though. Having seen much of the city on a previous trip, it seemed like there wasn’t much left to do unless it involves spending a lot of money - which was something I wasn’t willing to do.


they were taking down the safety car sign right after the race. 

they were still building Marina Bay Sands back then!

I was bound for Siem Reap that Thursday, the earliest date for an affordable flight, to finally get a good look at the ancient Angkor Wat. It was another item bound to be ticked off my list so when Thursday finally rolled in, I could hardly wait to fly out of Singapore.

The flight took about two hours and the first thing I saw of Siem Reap was fog. No temples or rice fields. If I couldn’t see a thing while we were descending, the pilot surely couldn’t too.  And boy was I right. Due to the bad weather, we skipped Siem Reap and headed to Phnom Pehn.

Passengers bound for the Capital deplaned while we waited for an advisory. Lizzie and Mr. Darcy kept me company but I continued to pray for clear skies. I was meeting my officemate Kat at the airport but since Sun Cellular cut off my service for some unfathomable reason, I didn’t know if she was there.

After sitting it out for a couple of hours, we finally got the call and flew back to Siem Reap. I was the happiest of creatures when I saw Kat at the airport waiting for me. In the cab, we talked about the events of the last few hours and our itinerary that afternoon.

The driver, obviously eavesdropping, informed us that we couldn’t get to Angkor Wat that afternoon. The temples were all under water. And evidently, it wasn’t the only area underwater. The next thing we knew, the cab was making its way next to the overflowing Siem Reap River and we can hear the waves slapping unto the car doors.

Kat and I breathed a quiet prayer of thanksgiving when we safely got to the hostel. Convinced that we can’t do much that afternoon, we decided to go around on foot and check out how much “Ondoy” affected this city.  Here are a couple of things we saw:

kat on the flooded streets of siem reap. 

the flood was a great leveler. 

she's taking her right to privacy a bit too far, don't you think? 

I guess that trip just proved that there are instances when one can’t really outrun or outfly storms.   


PS. On this third anniversary of "Ondoy" wreaking havoc in eastern Metro Manila, I am very glad that we had a bright sunny day. 


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