Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Phuket:Patong Beach After Tsunami: April 6

This is Patong Beach in Phuket. It's still fairly early in the morning but there are very few people here just the same.

Rows and rows of deck chairs waiting for the visitors who don't come. My friends here say that the 'Farangs'(Foreigners who are white) are starting to come back but not the Asians. They tell me the ghosts of the dead are still on the beach so they stay away.

As I sit on a chair, I look at the sand which is now the whitest it has been in 15 years. The Tsunami removed the top layers, creating a brand new world here.

Just behind me, you can still see the signs of the wreckage. Many of the walkways are still broken.

I'm writing this story from 'World Star Travel' where I was met by the owner, 'Sak' who was very helpful in giving me details of what he saw that day. His office is just two blocks from the Ocean. Sak told me he was upstairs having a shower at about 9:30 in the morning when the Tsunami hit. He said: "I see water below and not know why. Sak closed the sliding doors to his office as he left and so the water only reached the level of the watermark he is pointing to on his wall. "I rush downstairs and everyone running and screaming: all run up hill. I see four friend dead across street from my office, lying in street when I return at 3:30 that day." Sak told me he came back to his office that night to sleep but couldn't. "Everyone say Tsunami come again and no one sleep." He says the power was knocked out so everyone was in darkness, listening for any sign that the horror was about to happen again. When he felt the earthquake from Sumatra recently he saw people running up the hill again all around him. They all assumed it was another Tsunami coming. Sak had a staff of 7 the day the Tidal wave struck. Now he has two employees who he really can't afford to pay. The relief effort paid no money to the businesses here as far as he knows. He certainly has received nothing.

People are rebuilding at a furious pace all along Thawiwong Road (the beachfront road).

I don't really do justice to Patong Beach though. There is so much construction but it is a beautiful area even as it is. I see more than most because I'm a carpenter. I find it a wonderful place to relax in and because there are fewer people than usual, it makes for a tremendous vacation spot.

The Ocean wave rolled right through this street because it is at right angles to the beach.

You can see from this building, how high the water was. It actually was 4 stories high at it's peak. Much of the repair work has been done on this street but as you can see from this balcony, the water flooded this street at a very high level.
Sak told me the Tsunami came three kilometers inland and it took until late afternoon before it had receded enough for people to come back into the town. Most of the day they just waited in the hills. Sak has a very happy personality and laughed and joked with me while we talked. But when he talked about the many friends he saw die, just a few feet away from his office, he covered his eyes with his hands and just shook his head. He said it is a vision he will never be able to get out of his mind.

No comments: