Living through the tsunami
Truth be told, like 95% of Phuket's population, we did not see anything that day. I felt the quake at about 8:30am, and thought about where the epicenter might be. My wife felt it too. We thought nothing of it. I went out to Tesco Lotus at 9am. When I came out into the carpark, I saw many ambulances racing towards Patong. I thought maybe there had been a bad traffic accident. On reaching home, we saw something on the Thai TV news about a tsunami hitting Phuket. I called my office in Karon Beach. The boss was there and said, yes he'd heard about it too, but did not seem too concerned. Later we realised that Karon was probably the least affected area on the west coast of Phuket.
So, I decided it couldn't be too bad and headed off to work at the dive shop. Took me a loooong time to reach work. Police had blocked the road to Patong, but I was able to go around the long way via Chalong, and saw no damage, no evidence of any panic or anything to suggest a major disaster. I guess that people (like me) were not aware of the scale of things yet. So I reached Karon and immediately headed for the beach. We could see something had happened. Not huge damage, but water had come 50m up our road and knocked over a tshirt stall, and broken windows in some shops. The beach road was covered in sand and bricks, and in some places there were cars and bikes that hd been thrown around. A restaurant at the far south end was destroyed. But all in all, the damage was not bad, so we headed back to the office. By that time, my wife was calling and telling me she had heard on the TV that thousands had been killed. I said "rubbish, we're here and the damage is not bad". We did not know about Khao Lak.
It's all in the past now. But is in our minds. On Christmas day, we had been on Kamala beach with some friends. Our daughter just 3 years old playing in the sand, and my wife 9 months pregnant. The next day, the restaurant we were sitting in was wiped out. We spent a lot of time thinking "what if". When our son was born, for us he was a miracle, and still is.
It's not easily forgotten.
Continued in Part II....(click here)
Updated Tsunami thoughts written in 2008 - 4 years after the tsunami.
Everything is hunky dory now, we hope to see you in Phuket soon.