I'm on a beautiful island just south of Krabi. About an hour and a half ride by speed boat which was not much better for sea sickness as the boat I was on yesterday. I think I'll wait a couple days before getting on the water again!
Phi Phi Don has a narrow piece of land with beach on both sides that was lined with bungalows and resorts. The North side was completely wiped out by the tsunami. The South side has some remaining stores. What happened was a wave came from both sides, covering the entire piece of land in water, with the 2 waves crashing into eachother in the centre. A poor fishing village was destroyed. Bungalows were washed out to sea, with traces of floor tiles and small shampoo bottles still embedded in the sand. Palm tree roots are exposed. Almost 40% of the islands population was killed. I couldn't believe what I was witnessing first hand, and almost 6 months after the fact. All day, all around, people are hammering, building, constructing cobbled pathways, painting and digging holes for septic tanks. Yet even though so much is destroyed, a lot has been rebuilt and cleaned up and the cliffs and water and scenery is probably the most amazing place I've ever been. Many tourists are volunteering their time to help, yet there are still many enjoying the resorts and beaches. Tourism is so important right now to get things up and running the way they were before.
To think where I am sitting at this moment was covered in that wave is so hard to comprehend. I met John today who was here on that day and survived the tragedy by seconds. He asked me to take his photo infront of a hill. I didn't think the hill was anything spectacular, but that was his place of refuge with others who ran up for safety, thinking another wave was approaching. Later they came down to look for people buried beneath several feet of debris. John heard a small cry below a destroyed house. He rescued a small girl and put her on a helicopter. He is now back on the island in search of where she went. And here he is alive to tell his story and half a year later, finding the answers to another story. It's been a solem day and there is so much more to say, but I will end here. P