Phuket after the Tsunami. How is it possible that the people on Phuket island that tell us about a certain tragedy — that they still are ready for a new start, while the news only show destruction and ravages?
This question in mind we leave on a Wednesday morning with an early flight from Bangkok to Phuket. the boeing 747 thai airways is full. there is no seat more Friapproximately one hour after we land at Phuket. blue skies, sunshine, warm. Our destination is a hotel patong beach where we have booked for the next day. Patong Beach is one of the most famous seaside resorts, and, unfortunately, hard hit by the tsunami.
Travel by taxi from the airport to Patong Beach takes about three minutes. We cross a large part of the island, and look out the window at the tropical landscape, looking for signs of the devastation. vain. The inner part of the island life as usual as if nothing has happened.
Arrived on the promenade of Patong Beach we detect the first signs of the tragedy which happened on the morning of December 26, apparently a morning like any other, has played. The beach is clean and open to the public, but there are few swimmers (who knows the island knows that at this time full of people should be).Here and there we see a bulldozer to remove the last sand accretion. the pavement is occasionally interrupted because a concrete slab fog. phenomena that give you some idea of the incredible force with which the sea on the boulevard is pounded.
Across the road along the sea carries, many shops, bars and restaurants opened their doors again. in some classrooms a lot of building, but overall you get the idea that this thread has already been arrested. and we also believe, because if you know the Thai people, you know that after the disaster literally worked four hours a day to get everything back as quickly as possible in order.
Some restaurants are just reopened, others are about to open again. We walk a little further in patong, away from the coast and find that it is as if nothing happened. the tsunami has shops, restaurants and houses along the coastal road directly severely affected, but a little further, leading to the center, everything is intact. and here is all as before. despite the image we got through the media. completely destroyed the image of an island.
Apart from the tsunami, it is mainly the images of the media that a devastating effect on the island had, at least if we may rely on the few tourists, a handful, that the trip to this once-popular holiday have ‘dared’ . it is understandable that few tourists have chosen to do this island. yet until recently there was talk about epidemics, and many have complete devastation of the earth gevaagde hotels, resorts and beaches. and tourists are no longer – if it is at least at this moment – despite the fact that most of the hotels operate as usual, even if they are dramatically low.
We walk through the streets of Patong. everywhere we see restaurants, bars, shops, everything is open, and we wonder why the media places us the horrific images of death and destruction showed, but did not tell us that life goes its own way again, that life goes on. maybe it’s not news, at least not for the news bulletins, that life goes on.might not attract positive coverage to the attention of viewers, may not sell such messages … maybe.
Gionata, a good friend of ours who lives in Phuket, drives us to different beaches. we visit Karon, Kata, Chalong, Rawai … and over again we find the same situation: sunny beaches, in perfect condition (the residents have really worked incredibly hard to get everything in no time to clean up) but almost deserted. the restaurants are empty, the hotels for the most part empty, the shops we only shop assistants. despite the fact that everything works perfectly.
Jeff we meet in Rotterdam. He lives and works since years on the island. Jeff tells us about the morning of December 26, apocalyptic scenes. his personal experience gives us goose bumps, despite the burning sun. he too can not understand why the media have deliberately contributing to the worsening of a situation which in itself is tragic. He also confirms us that tourism is virtually zero, while the island is already totally ready for it, or almost over.
We put ourselves into the interior of the island to Phuket City. Since it is anticipated salvatore us. He also lived for years on the island, he is most well known and respected Italian restaurant in Phuket. salvatore also tells us that the island is again 100% working, but there is not much for tourists to be found.
At the table next to ours is a Swedish delegation visiting the island. Sweden has mainly caused by the tsunami suffered heavy losses. sweden but come again. A first flight with Swedish tourists, landed a few days ago, and in the coming days more are expected. Life goes on, but the media do not seem to notice.
One thing that virtually all foreign residents of the island which we have spoken to their great dismay, noticed, and that is that some foreign television channels (which the people of Phuket via satellite to see) had established themselves at the landfill north of Patong , where the beach begins, where bulldozers and dumped the waste.
Images of the landfill, just outside Patong, were also the days and weeks after the tsunami patong transmitted as it were. a way to an already dramatic situation is even worse to appear … and in order to attract viewers, at least, a different explanation for this, we can not find it.
Phuket is ready for a fresh start, and the best way to local populations as cruel by the tsunami to help is to go on holiday. to return to give oxygen to the economy which largely relies on tourism. if you already have, you can return with confidence. You’ve never been there, maybe this is the perfect occasion.