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Apocalypse Chiang Mai

Last month you, like me, probably had your eyes glued to the night sky in anticipation of the promised meteor showers over Chiang Mai.

TOM

Yet however marvellous lumps of superheated celestial rock skipping across the earth’s atmosphere may appear against the eternal blackness, this phenomenon is not without its very real danger. I am not talking about a lump of incandescent falling star bouncing off one’s bonce, though one can never be too careful. No, I’m talking about the well documented danger of a zombie apocalypse. Scientists and documentary filmmakers — They Walk, Disaster L.A., Wyrmwood etc. — have known for decades that one of the probable causes of the dead rising from the ground and getting a bit bitey is a meteor shower, (not to mention Triffids, those large walking venomous plants that tend to become murderously active after everyone is blinded by a brightly coloured shower of comets).

Fortunately, if you are reading this in a cafe enjoying a frothy latte, we have all had an extremely lucky escape. But perhaps now is the time to face the inevitable and ask ourselves is Chiang Mai ready for the undead to walk its streets and markets, its malls and condominiums?

I would argue that this depends in part on what sort of zombies the meteors create. If it’s the really fast ones like in 28 Days Later, then we are all buggered. They are really nasty pieces of work. If however we get the slightly slower somnambulists, similar to the ones from a George Romero documentary, then we are in with a
better chance, and as he was the first to really get to grips with the phenomena of the reanimated, let’s go with his definition.

Zombies are generally rather simple minded fellows. Chiang Mai has systems in place to completely baffle the sharpest of wits and this could help prevent the complete breakdown of society heralded by the return of the dead. Chiang Mai’s traffic system should keep them sufficiently bewildered for a bit. If the walking dead tried to take over, say the Maya Mall, like in Dawn of the Dead, well good luck to them, I still can’t figure that place out and inevitably end up sobbing in the basement car park when trying to work out the correct combination of escalators and lifts to get to the cinema on the top floor. And any reanimated corpse foolish enough to chase a living person along one of Chiang Mai’s pavements is likely to fall down a hole, end up impaled on a spikey bit of metal or completely baffled by the sudden appearance of a billboard in its path.

Thankfully some governments are treating the threat with the solemnity it deserves. America’s the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has produced an illustrated paper, “Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic” that explains how individuals, families, workplaces and schools can ready themselves for the rise of the undead. The Weather Channel in the US has also examined the matter and tackled pertinent questions like how colder weather might affect a zombie’s ability to function, and if reanimated corpses can run faster in warmer climes. A bunch of clever Canadians have spent their time pondering the outcome of flesh hungry corpses running rampage. The conclusions don’t make very cheerful reading as all humans will inevitably end up dead or turned because we are an ever decreasing food supply for an ever increasing population of biters.

Yet it is not all doom and gloom. It appears that the authorities in Ohio are already on top of things. The Cincinnati local council has come down heavily on a couple who erected a zombie themed nativity scene in their front garden. The couple claim that it is a “wonderful piece of artwork”, but thankfully the council understand that zombies are not a laughing matter.

In 2009 Business Insider listed Chiang Mai first on a list of places to go if the world goes to hell. Apparently the city has remained a stronghold of peace and stability while the rest of “Southeast Asia has been a hotspot for war, heroin, massacres, and political turmoil for decades”. So, that’s encouraging.

According to researchers at Cornell University running around with a cricket bat in built up areas is the worst possible course of action when a gang of the unwell is in hot pursuit. The team suggest it is essential to head for more sparsely populated areas, such as mountains, something that Chiang Mai is surrounded with. The idea is that zombies will have fewer people to bite and therefore the undead population growth will slow significantly. This probably doesn’t work if there are Triffids. The countryside around Chiang Mai would be crawling with Triffids.

Even the UK’s Bristol County Council appears to recognise the importance of preparedness and suggest being imaginative when picking weapons with which to engage the reanimated, and to purchase an Ebola-style protective suit.

But what is it going to cost to survive the inevitable zombie pandemic here in Chiang Mai? According to author of The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, Max Brooks, a full zombie kit will set one back around 16,000 baht. Rest assured however that surviving zombies requires pretty much the same equipment as for any major disaster, so the money covers every conceivable calamity from earthquakes and floods to volcanos and the Rapture.

Like the explosion of the Yosemite supervolcano, monsters from another dimension coming out of the Mariana Trench and Donald Trump, the rise of the living dead is imminent. We need to start preparing, and we need to start doing it immediately.