Monday, December 27, 2004

SURVIVING THE TSUMANI - Part 1 - First Letter

Monday, December 27
4:00 in the afternoon. 28 hours after the Tsunami hit Phuket, Thailand

This email was sent from Phuket from an internet café. I walked around for hours finding a place that had electricity and that would let me use their computer.

Dear Family and friends - I don't know how to even begin this.

In case you have not hear - two thing:
1. Because of an earthquake in Indonesia - tidal waves - or a "tsunami"
hit major beaches in the India Ocean
2. Phuket, Thailand is one of those areas.
3. And yes - I am here.

Ok. where to begin.

THE SETTING NOW: It is about 4:00 in the afternoon here in Phuket, Thailand. It was about 28 hours that the Tsunami hit. For the first 24 hours - we didn't have any electricity. Little by little - the electricity is being restored. I have walked inland about a mile where it has not been affected - and for a few minutes - am at an internet cafe – typing this email.

BASIC OF WHAT HAPPENED: At 7:00 am in Asia - in Sumatra – an earthquake happened - registering 8.9 on the rictor scale. As a result - hours later - all over Asia - it caused a phenominon called a "Tsumami." It is basically a large "rolling water" situation - and as I am on the coast of Thailand - in the Indian ocean - we saw this happen. As a result - the swell after swell of water rose above the walls of the beach here in Thailand. The water rose about 18 feet / 6-7 meters - and bascially destroyed everything below that mark for the first 3-4 blocks of the towns it hit.

BOTTOM LINE: I am fine. I was not in the wave - but passed by 4 minutes before it hit - and went up the hill to my hotel. Within minutes - the tsunami hit - and people shrieked. People ran up the hill - and last night - we had hundreds of refugees at the hotel. My room became the home of five people. We didn't have food, electricity. We had water. And beer from the mini fridges of hotels that were destroyed. Today - everyone is waking up to the reality of what happened. The shock is wearing off - and everyone is trying to deal with the realityof it all.

WHY IN THAILAND? I had decided to stay around Singpaore this holiday - having taken 20 business trips this last year - and just needing time and a place to think - be alone - and get ready for a new year. I decided to split my time off between a nice beautiuful beach - and Singapore. I left early yesterday morning - and arrivedon Dec 26 at about 10:00 am. The last time I stayed here - I stayed a a hotel on Kata beach. It isa nice place - and I nearly stayed there again. But this
time - I wanted to be closer to the larger beach - if for no other reason - to be within walking of the new Starbuck's that opened on the beach.

As I woke this morning, I realized two things. The place I would have stayed in Kata - was now wiped out. And secondly - the Starbucks is completey gone - only a few letters in the sign still standing.

I will tell you more about the story in some upcomign emails - but I want to send this off in case the power goes off or something happens.

I am well - and happy to feel safe. I will hopefully send more emails soon.



At 11:20 AM, Blogger Yeah! said...

Rick, you have your luck with you on this trip. Your life sounds fascinating, yet somewhat lonely, except not with 5 people in your room that night. What a memorable event in 2004, and speaking of 4, 4 minutes later, may not have been so memorable. To witness, and not experience the running from the sea, is so fortunate, and very very interesting perspective. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

At 4:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rick, Thanks for your Good account. Try to recall, the earthquake should be around 9am or 8.58am in Thailand. The Tsunami hit maybe about 1 hr later. Try to think a little and reflect in your life.....the 4 minutes make so much different..... You are born with some past experience that have put you so close and yet so far from that moment.... Please help yourlsef to search for your true purpose in life. Try to look for "Tze Chi" maybe you have more .... in your life than u can imagine...

At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God,Rick, you ARE a lucky man to have been there and still here today! i would very much like to here from you, of how you are, how you find yourself emotionally.
God blees all the victims and all the survivors.

At 3:48 AM, Blogger Billygoat24 said...

I was in Thailand in 03', in Krabi, and b/c of the monsoon season didn't get out to Koh Phi Phi and now I wish I had seen this area before the disaster. I have a friend in Thailand right now and just found out that because the "waves" weren't good on that side, he survived while surfing in the Bay of Thailand area. I can't even imagine what everyone went through, but I'm glad there are survivors sharing their stories in this sad hour. Thank you.

At 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I Dont Know How People Survived It I Would Have Died Straight Away Im So Scared Of Everything Well Its Good To Know People Stayed Strong On That Terrifing Day XxX

At 2:38 PM, Blogger Samantha Lau said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 2:07 AM, Blogger sherill said...

Hey Rick! Do you have a downloadable/printable version of your story? I'd like to print it out for my students to use for a class project....

Sherill (from Seaman...)


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