Wednesday 9 January 2008

Tsunami Volunteer Centre, Khao Lak

This post is for all my lovelies that worked at the Tsunami Volunteer Centre in Khao Lak and haven't seen it would blow your mind!

It's been 2 years and 9 months since I left the centre and I've only managed to see a few of you since then but thanks be to the internet you're still in my world. On Monday I was on a quick day trip with a group of 60 housewives (and a sprinkling of fellers) from my village. While everyone was eating lunch at the National Park I went to visit our old home since it was only 100 metres up the road. What a ghost town its become! Only one person was on site holding down the fort.. was truly bizarre. The centre looks great though on the top level with heaps of pictures on display (I assume they are Mike's) and info boards around. The lower foody, meeting areas look like they haven't been tread on for millennium. The lovely Thai girl brought me up to speed with everyone and said the only project still going on is the English curriculum in a few of the schools and there's only a dozen or so people still actively involved.

The main drag of Khao Lak is incredible... it's like nothing ever happened. Clothes and souvenir shops selling all the same wears line the road with a gazillion restaurants, resorts, massage places and bars filling every available space. Down on the beach front is mainly privately owned with little beach access unless you walk through a restaurant or resort.

What I find daunting was this restaurant on the right (click for larger view)... they even had sand bags because of high tide. This is in the area where the 100 day memorial was held. It beggars the question as to why are they allowed to repeat the same mistakes? Why are there no building restrictions within a specified limit of the shoreline? Two answers come to mind: this is Thailand and mafia. I can only imagine what Phi Phi Island has turned into. That island was flattened by the tsunami but I'm betting it's 'bigger and better' than ever and buildings are probably even closer to the beach then before. I mean who wants to pull up a towel on the beach and have restaurant patrons gawking down on you? I'm stoked that the locals have been able to rebuild their destroyed lives and make a lucrative living again but why why why is there no balance between making money, environmental concerns and safety standards. Do they not learn from the devastation? All too often it's just about the money. The resort next to this restaurant was one of the only ones left standing, although it was a mere shell with barely any 2nd or 3rd level roof left intact. It is MASSIVE now. Insurance must have been a lottery win. It's like a tropical rainforest with enormous Thai style buildings.. it's actually gorgeous, just defies reality of what was left a couple of years ago. Unfortunately couldn't take any photos in town cos the people were on a mission to eat so we didn't even get off the bus to look around.

It was fabulous to be able to see the place again as it's where I made so many life long friends.... collective awww.

3 commentaramas:

Carol said...

I am really quite stunned that they have been able to build that close to the sea again!!

I am going to be going to Ban Talae Nok village at the end of February (That's where JJ Visited) so have been reading about the devastation - I can't even imagine what it must have been like to live through!!

C x

Unknown said...

there will be another tsunami someday...
people will forget that one, too.

mataho on koh lanta

Mel said...

Yep, I was shocked to see how close that place was with the sandbags in place. People only see dollar signs until the next disaster. You'd think they could have made a park with lots of trees or something in that area, but I guess parks don't pay...