Tsunami Terror

Trip Start Nov 16, 2004
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Trip End Nov 15, 2005


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Flag of Thailand  ,
Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Hi everyone.

I'm sure you'll have seen the destruction caused by the quake on TV. Nothing like being in the middle of it.

Here's our take and then we'll give you all some info on how great christmas was.

We hired a longtail boat for Boxing day between 9 of us (less Nial as the lazy Koala was still sleeping a hangover off) and shot off for some good snorkelling and touring round the island. After me and Cosmo (Danish mate) had a little snorkel (I got stung by a jellyfish - again) we jumped back in the boat and motored around the top of the island choosing not to stop at the main town for a drink so we could see more.

About an hour later the fishermen driving us told us to sit at the back of the boat - all of us simply assuming Rick and Neil were too heavy at the front(!) or the current was going to be strong. Bearing in mind we haven't really seen a current or wave around these parts since our arrival we found it odd. Then, in the distance, we could see a rather large wave, again, figuring it was breaking over a coral. Fishermen had a flid, made some calls on his phone and in broken english simply said 'accident' and promptly turned the boat round. We figured we were returning to where we started but oh no, we were stopping virtually straight away. You'll see in the video to be uploaded in Bangkok the water turning from a nice peaceful inlet to a torrent moving fast.

As he stopped the boat, they basically told us to get out sharpish so we did. Some random stranger told us to follow him to the hills, at which point we thought something odd was going on. We decided against following him for fear of being dragged to a shop to buy something.

Found our fishermen friends and he called Nok (back at our Bungalow) who was on her way. When no-one arrived a friendly local stopped and we jumped in his van. He dropped us high in the hills at a normally desolate restaurant - today it was rammed. Now we knew something wasn't right but again, didn't know anything. 5mins later a very distressed Nok arrived and took us to the top of the hills where everyone was. It was at this point we heard the island had taken a fair hit and we had lost our stuff - nothing compared to what we were to later find out. I ran up a hill looking for Nial figuring he was still sleeping when whatever it was had struck. Sweating and panicking I saw his ugly mug coming down the hill. I think he summed it up quite well "Never have I been so happy to see Dan's ugly chump coming at me". I'll leave it there. Needless to say, a lot of hugs and tears went on through the day as we found out more and more.

Within half an hour, the mountaintop restaurant was jammed - all the people from our bungalows (located on the beach) and staff were together which was the most important thing. The next 6 hours were spent listening to several different reports from worldwide mobile phone contacts - my uncle's friend in italy is a seismologist, my friend is in so and so - the list goes on. The worst thing we found was the fisherman who we are genuinely in-debted to forever, had lost his son. He was on the water somewhere and hadn't heard from him (we later found he was safe and well on another island thank god), but Diao (Zebadee as he's been nicknamed) had not heard from his wife and children who live on Ko Phi Phi - an island devastated. As time went on the surrealness of this situation just got stranger. All our friends with us eventually got contact with missing family which was great. We later found that the place we had left a couple of weeks ago - 'Where Else' - had taken a huge hit. A boat in the water flew into the restaurant and bar and destroyed it. Unfortunately, two lads from the place there, who were all fantastic, tried to stop the boat and ended up being airlifted to Krabi that night. Both are still seriously ill with a broken back and various injuries so thoughts are with those guys. Half a dozen tourists a little further down the beach from us had celebrated the previous days festivities and stayed in bed in the morning. They couldn't be woken and unfortunately didn't make it.

We got moved later that evening to a place to stay at in the mountains which was a concrete shack, with about 40 of us sleeping there. Not a lot of sleep that night.

The next day I went back to the bungalows with the other guys to see and help the clean up - our place of paradise was ruined. The bungalows were okay, but the front was trashed. It can be repaired compared to some other places and compared to the value of life (which we have learnt to appreciate recently) was irrespective.

Mid-way through the afternoon, Ton came through the place on his scooter sharpish - another wave en route. It had just hit Phuket so we had about 50mins to grab some bits and leg it. Again, later on we came down again to try and get some food. Dan offered to help put the electric back on which was trashed - no electric to the site meant people couldn't return. We sat in the remains of the restaurant and ummed and arred as to whether to stay in the mountains. Ton made that decision for us telling us another quake had just gone off. So, off we went again.

So, yesterday afternoon Dan came back down with Ton and Nok (the owners) and managed to fumble the electric back onto the bungalows which was a good start. Bit by bit, while others were helping the clean up I eventually got the electric back onto the whole site. Despite what the others think, yes I was chuffed (although I think they're aware!). I could help with something so I did my best and succeeded. I owe those guys more than some wiring anyhow, they were unbelievable. After spending the nights in the mountains, they continued to supply us with food and water and blankets.

What really hit home yesterday afternoon, was when the aid truck arrived at our place. World Vision turned up with aid bags for each of us - fresh water and sweet food for energy which is the most heart wrenching thing we have ever seen. Hearing of aid trucks all over the world and watching television, you tend to de-sensitise yourself to events around the globe, but when it turned up they were lovely. They just wanted to quickly check for injuries and feed people. They do a fabulous job.

The British Embassy phoned yesterday to check what our plans were now as they're advising to move onto the Bangkok or the East Coast. I think it's a bit of a shame if they're not aware of anymore waves as this will only serve to make matters worse by taking away the only thing a lot of the islands rely on, being tourism and money associated with it.

Most of the tourists have left the island now as have our contingent. Us pair are due to leave tomorrow morning which will be a gutter. We are changing our trip to ensure we spend a few days here in a couple of months to see how things are.

We've seen some TV pictures of places all over the world hit by this catastrophe and words can't describe the feelings we have. Bangshem the fisherman, his wife, Nok, Ton, Ken, Yelly, Nork, Diao - we will miss you all very very much. The last 96 hours have been some of the most surreal and touching in our lives and will remain with us for a long time.

I hope everyone had a nice christmas and looks forward to new year. Looks like ours will be in Bangkok, so I will update to say we got there safely in about 2 days.

In the meantime, thanks for the messages of support and the volume of enquiries we got to check if we were okay. The offers of help and such like were great and if any of you do want to do something - please contact World Vision. Without being cliched, a few pence will go a long long way and as we've said they do a fantastic, fantastic job for few rewards.

Speak to you all soon

Dan & Cath
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