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Thailand: Floods Blamed for High Prices at Chinese New Year

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In Thailand’s Deep South, recent heavy flooding has dampened enthusiasm for the Chinese New Year, which began Thursday and ends Saturday.

Prices for fruit and vegetables – which are central to traditional worship – have increased by 30 percent to 50 percent because of weather-related shortages. Seafood for celebratory meals is scarce.

Sujaree Ruangpawang, 45, a seafood vendor in Yala, said she normally purchases from the fishing pier in Pattani and sells in Yala. This year, fishing boats cannot leave port as many areas remain flooded.

“There is no seafood around here. We have to go get that from the Andaman Sea – through Surat Thani province. Many types of seafood are out of stock and vendors have to increase the price for things such as cockles and shrimp,” she told BenarNews.

Flooding in December and January has proven deadly in regions of the Deep South. Rains that began at the beginning of January affected more than 1 million people and resulted in at least 30 deaths, Thai media reported earlier this month.

In Bangkok, vendors in Chinatown saw decreases as well.

“It is really slow this year. Any shop owner would tell you that this year is not profitable. There are fewer buyers and it is harder to sell. People are saving a lot more,” said Chaiyaphon Jongraksa, 65, the owner of home decorating shop along Yaowarat Road in the Chinatown area of Bangkok

A Thai-Chinese woman in Yala blamed the flooding for keeping her from making a living tapping rubber.

“Things cost more, we have to buy only what we need,” Sermduang Kaewkloy said. “Most of our clothes are what we have in black and white for the late King anyway.”

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