Eight Years after the Tsunami
Finally, a post by Dave!
When Jill and I were first discussing our trip we made the decision to spend a good chunk of time in each of the places we visited. We didn’t want to be rushed running from place to place and, if possible, wanted to immerse ourselves in the cultures of the countries we were visiting.
Our trip to Thailand was somewhat last minute so we won’t be spending as much time here as some of the other places we’ll visit. And, truth be told, the places we’re staying here, while relatively cheap by American standards, are far beyond the means of most Thai people so we haven’t had much one-on-one time with natives other than service people, who are incredibly nice. So today we decided to visit the Tsunami Memorial in Baan Nam Kem. The memorial honors those killed in Thailand in the 2004 South Asian Tsunami, which was triggered by a huge earthquake in the Indian Ocean. More than 200,000 people were killed by the tsunami, most of them in Indonesia.
The Baan Nam Kem memorial is a short 2 km walk down the beach from where we are staying. It contains a wall in the shape of a wave to honor those killed in the area, which was one of the hardest hit in Thailand. According to the wall’s pictures and descriptions, a large number of the dead outside of local Thais were German tourists on holiday, not too surprising to us since most of the tourists we’ve seen in Thailand are Germans.
It’s most fantastic feature is a large Buddha that faces the memorial and has its back to the sea.
While much of our stay in Thailand has been spent enjoying its parks and beautiful beaches, the Tsunami Memorial was a good reminder of the hardships people have suffered in this part of the world. Much of the tourists area, particularly to the south heading toward Phuket, has been rebuilt. But the particular stretch of sand near us on the Andaman coast is eerily calm and lonely. Our resort is the only one for miles and the only other signs of life are the occasional fishing boat pulling into Baan Nam Kem.
Since 2004, Thailand has been installing a high tech warning system to alert people of a potential tsunami – something that didn’t exist in 2004. Luckily for us, it was completed just a few weeks ago.