Monday, April 18, 2005

Phuket Summary

Phuket was a good experience for my family. We got away from normal life and spent a huge amount of good quality family time together. My observations of Phuket:
  • It is more expensive than Chiang Mai, but a bargain compared to Singapore;
  • It is full of tourists;
  • It is a huge island;
  • The tsunami damage is still evident, especially in the Patong Beach area;
  • In another 10 years, it will have out-grown itself;
  • It is a great place to visit, and I wouldn't mind living there.
We were amazed that Patong Beach has come so far in rebuilding, but it still has a LONG WAY to go to get back to normal. You could see rock or concrete block walls still laying on their sides, having been knocked down by the wave. The McDonald's on Patong Beach is still in ruins. I didn't have my camera with me, but I took a picture with my friend's camera. As soon as he downloads it to me, I will post it here. There are many businesses still boarded up. We were surprised that the McDonald's sign hasn't been removed. (Bad for corporate image, we thought) The Starbuck's on Patong Beach was completely destroyed, but had been rebuilt and restored. They had pictures on the wall of the damage it had sustained. I showed my 9 year old daughter and she thought they were too distressing to look at. Pictures from Dec 26 here.

I spoke with some of the locals there and asked them about the tsunami. Several had seen the wave; several had been "caught" in the wave. The waitress at our hotel restaurant said that it completely destroyed the hotel where she was working that day. She said she was at work when it hit, but you could tell she didn't want to talk about it, so I let it drop. There was a T-shirt for sale in the street market that listed the different tragedies like SARS, Bird Flu, Tsunami, etc, since 1999. The last line begged the question, "What's next?"

It was a strange experience "enjoying" a place that has had such devastation. Everyone there, however, kept saying "thank you" for coming and helping to support their economy. Still, as we played in the ocean, we couldn't help but to think of the untold numbers who lost their lives on that dreadful day. I hope they never have to experience that again.

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