What is the best way to draw attention to an unrepaired road in your neighbourhood?
Write a letter to the authorities? Complain on social media? Or protest by sitting in the offending pothole and taking a bath?
Well, the latter is exactly what a Bangkok-based model called Palm decided to do. She was fed up with the condition of the roads on her route to her relatives in the Mae Ramat district in Thailand’s Tak province.
So she donned a shower cap and took a ‘protest bath’ in one of the holes that are causing ongoing problems and accidents.
Photos of the event have been widely shared across social media in Thailand and China. They have inspired others to copy her actions to draw attention to the state of their local roads.
The woman pictured below in a yellow dress appears to have aped Palm’s protest in Chaiyaphum one of the provinces in north east Thailand.
A group of grandmothers in Khon Kaen Province, also in north east Thailand, followed suit with a mass bathe-in.
They complained that the government hadn’t repaired the road for the last 30 years. But they have now been promised that the road will be repaired after the rainy season.
Palm’s pothole protest also appears to have made a difference. According to reports the governor of Tak Province ordered the relevant agencies to repair the road without delay, and new photos posted on Facebook appear to confirm that those repairs are underway.
The woman in the yellow dress has also reportedly been promised that action will result from her watery wallow.
However, some are nor prepared to wait around for officialdom to make good on its promises. A retired German engineer, Peter Goman, has won huge admiration on social media after his Thai wife, Kusuma Namwon, posted pictures of him getting stuck in to help repair roads near their home in Buriram province.
“Motorcyclists would occasionally fall into the holes, and the people in the houses would rush to them,” Kusuma reportedly said. In addition to helping volunteers fix the road, the couple also contributed to the cost of materials along with other volunteers.
Many observers have been particularly struck by a 76-year-old foreigner mucking in to help. The Facebook post of “Mr Peter” at work has been shared more than 40,000 times and a video on YouTube has been watched more than 60,000 times. “Very awesome,” was a typical comment.
But it’s not just Thailand which suffers from potholes. Getting them fixed in a timely fashion seems to be a global problem.
Last year in Bangalore, an Indian artist Baadal Nanjundaswamy sculpted a life-size crocodile in one road crater after becoming frustrated that potholes were not being repaired by authorities there.
And earlier this year one self-styled “road artist” had a more controversial way of drawing attention to the state of the roads in his area of north west England.
He decided to graffiti pictures of penises around potholes in an attempt to get the local authority to act.
Bury Council called the drawings “obscene”, “stupid” and “insulting”. It insisted “painting obscenities around potholes will not get them repaired any quicker, but simply waste valuable time and resources”.