Something felt off. Well, I felt off. But I could have never guessed what would come later, possibly in connection with the way I had felt the entire day after arriving in Chiang Mai.

And then I looked up from my sandwich in a Subway in Chiang Mai to see the glass before me shaking violently and the concrete walls of the building I was in shift back and forth.

What the fuck?” I said with a mouthful of chicken teriyaki.

I looked up and it seemed as though the world was warping, as if I was staring into a funhouse mirror as the events played out around me.

Everyone from the top floor and base floor scurried out of the building quickly, snatching up all of their belonging in a mad panic and fleeing into the streets.

Me? I just sat there completely confused and feeling on the verge of vomiting. And once the shaking stopped, it dawned on me that I had just idiotically sat inside a building while an earthquake rattled the city.

I think the reason I hadn’t gotten up to run outside like everyone else was because of that exact feeling that I had bothering me all day. And right before the earthquake it, I felt faint and near collapse — thinking I hadn’t eaten enough that day. Thinking at the beginning it was just me.

Earlier that morning I had driven back 3 hours from the northern town of Pai, through the 762+ turns up and down the mountains without stopping. I just wanted to make it back to Chiang Mai as soon as possible.

Right as I got back I started feeling a little off. I figured I had slight jitters because I only ate a small breakfast and chugged a coffee to get the blood flowing before hitting the road. But I made sure to drink plenty of water on the return route, and even after going to the café and eating an entire sandwich…nothing changed.

All day I stood or sat slamming down keys for a post on the blog, and gradually throughout the day I felt worse. It began with just a slight drowsiness or lightheadedness. and then my arms began to tingle. I felt weak. My head slowly began to give me the feeling of the spins, and my forehead felt hot.

Eventually, it got too much to bear. I packed up all of my belongings and decided to head home for the day and lay down, hoping that feeling would subside. But it didn’t.

It was about 5 minutes before the earthquake hit that I felt on the verge of vomiting. I thought I might collapse and so I hobbled down the stairs and decided that I’d try to down some more food just to see if it helped. Then, right before everything began shaking, I felt like I’d faint. My vision became a little blurry, my dizziness took hold, and I was preparing to run to the bathroom in case I had to hurl.

And then it hit. At first I thought it was me. My shoulders tingled down to my arms and into my fingertips. I thought, “Yep, stay seated Ryan, you are going to faint”

Things started slow. The windows vibrated and the walls moved and I grabbed my head with both hands to steady myself. That’s when everybody began running outside. It worsened. The glass wobbled and bent as though it’s explode and I could literally see the building dancing before me. Yet I couldn’t get up. I was disoriented and still couldn’t get my legs under me to work. I watched as the lights shook and pictures slide.

I’m sure if I began seeing things breaking or cracking I’d be able to get the energy to run outside.

After it stopped, I could see the hundreds of Thai people massing in the streets on their phone, seemingly tweeting or lining or snapping freak outs about what just happened.

And I sat there and finished my sandwich.

Not more than 5-10 minutes after the earthquake, that intense ill feeling seemed to wash out of my body. I was still a tad bit off, but I didn’t feel nearly as bad as I did hours before.

The earthquake registered a 6.3 at its epicenter near Chiang Rai north of Chiang Mai, and seemed to crawl all across Thailand down to Bangkok and into neighboring Myanmar. As I checked Twitter, immediately the social network was flooded with tweets about it. Luckily, everyone I knew weren’t injured. Just really freaked out or confused.

Throughout the night and into the next morning, my house vibrated with aftershocks. I spoke to my roommate the next morning about how ill I felt and she mentioned the exact same symptoms, telling me that she thought it was a large thunderstorm coming that caused her to feel that way.

Maybe I have “Spidey senses” one of my close friends quipped after telling her about the incident since it seemed to dissipate after the earthquake came and went.

I’ve now been through my share of earthquakes; plenty of aftershocks in Christchurch that made it feel like I slept on a water bed, and the annual occurrences in California. Hell, I was even giving an iPad class in Washington DC at my Apple Store when one hit — of course I stood there as everyone else crawled under tables.

Even though none compared to ones that have rocked Asia before, or Christchurch in New Zealand, or caused the destruction in Haiti that I observed even 2 years after, it is still pretty nerve wrecking.

I do not like the ground feeling like Jell-O beneath me.

Have you ever been through an earthquake? Ever have symptoms like mine hours before?


  1. Franca May 6, 2014 at 9:15 am

    That is a freaking scary experience Ryan. The earthquake was pretty strong as I saw on the news and from what I gathered by the social medias. I’ve never been in one myself but a couple of time I felt aftershocks, one quite recently whilst in Spain that woke me up in the middle of the night when I felt the bed shaking.
    Glad to hear you are fine after all.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author May 7, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      Well I am glad that you haven’t been through one Franca! I’ve been through my fair share (even 1 is more than enough) and I wish it on nobody! Thank you =)

  2. Deborah Thompson May 6, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Wow, Ryan – Sounds really intense! I’ve experienced a few earthquakes in the past, they are very unnerving for sure. I’m glad you are okay and not sick. Obviously you have a very sensitive psyche – you must have been feeling the earthquake building or something! Take care out there my friend!

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author May 7, 2014 at 10:54 pm

      It was such a strange feeling Deborah! Maybe so. Certainly unnerving and I’m glad you’ve been okay through all your experiences. Thank you!

  3. Justine May 6, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Scary! I’m originally from California so I’ve definitely been through plenty of earthquakes, but still a 6.3 is enough to freak me out! I traveled to the Philippines last year, just after the 7.2 earthquake. And it’s pretty frightening to see how much damage they can cause! Safe travels 🙂

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author May 7, 2014 at 10:58 pm

      Wow Justine, yeah I’m sure you are “used to” feeling a few rumbles every so often…but wow you must have been shocked by that destruction! I know the country was effected a lot. Thank you, and safe travels to you as well!

  4. Ren May 7, 2014 at 12:48 am

    I’ve been pretty lucky to have only experienced one earthquake (well, a few milder tremors aside), but alas, it was a big devastating one. Very scary, and it was my first, and I was a kid. Luckily we were relatively far and safe from the main devastation, but man, the news was BLEAK.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author May 7, 2014 at 10:59 pm

      Must have been quite terrifying Ren, I can’t imagine going through one when I was younger. Even now the small ones that I’ve felt mess with me for days. The ground shouldn’t move like that under us haha! But I’m glad you were safe after the one you experienced.

  5. rebecca May 7, 2014 at 4:26 am

    wow! crazy story! I would of crapped my pants at the idea of being in an earth quake. I agree with your friend… perhaps its the spidy senses!

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author May 7, 2014 at 11:00 pm

      Hahaha, I probably almost did myself Rebecca when I realized what was happening. But hell, maybe I’ll listen to the Spidey Senses next time!


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