I’m having trouble taking in the idea of this tsunami…I’m not traumatized by it, and I don’t think I know anyone directly affected by it, but it’s impacted a lot of places that I went to in my travels. There’s this eerie sense of “He can’t be dead—I know him!”
From the AP News:
Bodies were pulled from roadsides, orchards and beaches at Khao Lak resort, where the Swedish tour operator Fritidsresor said 600 Swedes had not been accounted for.
Jimmy Gorman, 30, of Manchester, England, said he saw 15 bodies, including up to five children and a pregnant woman, on Phi Phi island, one of Thailand’s most popular destinations for Westerners,
“Disaster. Flattened everything,” Gorman said. “There’s nothing left of it.
I keep thinking of the ten days or so I spent in Khao Lak—it’s a tiny little village, really more a strip of tourist bungalows right next to the sea. It’s so small that when the bus dropped me off, I thought there had been some kind of mistake…there were a few clumps of buildings and something that looked like a tourist shop, but no main street , just the highway running through–more like a rural outpost of some suburb than a real town on the map. It didn’t even have its own market—you had to go one or two towns up (or down) to buy food, about a thirty minute ride. (We actually made the trip out to the morning market one day, and I remember thinking it had nothing particularly interesting.) There were rubber plantations nearby—trees set for tapping—and I walked through the plantation for a short time–the rubber trees fascinated me, because I’d never thought of rubber growing on trees before, even though it does. (I didn’t write about it because the photos weren’t all that interesting, and I couldn’t find a worker to ask about the process.)
But the whole town was really no more than a small scattering of buildings, eight or nine guesthouses and four or five diving companies, all set right against the shoreline, for Western tourists/divers. There’s no way it could stand up to a tidal wave, the whole thing would be swept away.
Oh. Wait. Looks like it was.
Still very weird. I could still tell you exactly how I got down to my room (where I was staying while registering for the dive, getting beginning diving lessons, etc.)—go down a little path of pebbled concrete, turn right at the second clump of buildings–being careful to step on the round flagstones–rough brown wooden walls, and I think a very cute little frog living in a corner of the bathroom, and once a gecko. Air conditioning, and a decent sized bed, and I think there *might* even have been a TV. One of the nicest places I stayed.
It’s really, really weird to think of it all being gone.
I think I was on PhiPhi Island as well, but am less certain about that…I remember passing through an utterly beautiful island while we were diving, white sand in the stereotypical brilliant blue water (it really was that blue you see in photos), nice place but you couldn’t stay overnight. I’m not sure if that was PhiPhi Island or not…but whatever it was, it surely got flattened as well. I’d be surprised if the coral reefs where I went diving didn’t get hit, too.
It’s all very…strange.
I hope my diving instructor is OK…this is tourist season, so I hope she’d moved on to another dive site by now.
It’s just really, really weird to think of places you’ve been being wiped out like that. It’s not like a hurricane, where you rebuild, or an earthquake, which doesn’t usually topple entire cities. But I’d bet that Khao Lak is simply….gone.