Friday, January 29, 2010

World Traveler Part 10: An island in Thailand

Bangkok is amazing and wonderful and beautiful and interesting and full of history and food and shopping and lovely people.

It is.

I can't say it enough.

HOWEVER, despite being totally in love with this city, and having a great time, we still wanted to see more.

Something different. Just for a few days.

Which is how we ended up in a taxi barreling down the highway at 8am, headed for another airport, once again with absolutely 0 advance planning. At least when we left for the airport to go to Thailand, we actually HAD TICKETS. This time, notsomuch. We were going to an airport that mostly provides service for flights within Thailand. We didn't have tickets but we had big plans and I was pretty sure we had enough room on the credit card.

So we were going.

To Phuket, specifically.

I should pause and back up, and say that the reason we did not plan this portion of our trip ahead of time is that we were not 100% sure if we were going to go. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go. And the root of my hesitation was an old nagging worry - 5 years old, to be precise. The last time we had started to plan a trip to Thailand over the holidays, and discussed visiting a beach resort, we had ended up cancelling the entire trip. And that was 2004/2005 Holiday season. 5 years ago.

The year of the tsunami.

I remember settling into bed one night that December of 2005, pissed off that I was at home and not in Thailand, and turning on CNN, and overhearing someone on the TV say something about.......Thailand. That was odd. My ears perked up, because of course we were supposed to be there, and our friends were there, and I was bummed to have missed our chance to be with them, celebrating the holidays.

And then as I put down my magazine and turned up the volume, I caught a glimpse of......something......on the screen.

"Tsunami" crawled across the bottom of the screen.

But really, what were the chances that my friends were affected by the tsunami. Thailand is a big country, They could be ANYWHERE. They were probably in Bangkok, right?

I was awake for hours, on the verge of panic. This was post 9-11, and I felt, eerily, as though I had already been through something like this. On 9-11, I spent hours desperately calling and emailing everyone I knew in NYC, making sure they were all accounted for. And they were. And I was sure this was going to be the same sort of deal - me worrying myself sick, for no reason. Except, I just couldn't let it go.

And the silence from Thailand was deafening.

I emailed. I waited. I called. I waited. And waited. And waited. I found an old picture in an album of my friend and I, and while I waited to hear from her I put it by my bed. I brought it to work. I waited for her to respond, to tell me that of course she was fine. I emailed her husband. I waited.

And then he emailed me back.

She was alive. She was fine. The resort she was staying at was gone.


It's not my story to tell, but suffice to say that it was enough to put me off visiting small islands in Thailand. I sure wasn't interested in sitting on the beach. Which is why I just wasn't sure about this trip to Phuket.

Now, looking back, I am so glad that we struck out, explored another part of Thailand. But we had to do it this way - last minute, no real thought or consideration. I refused to think about the tsunami. Which allowed me to just experience the area as it is today - without considering how it was 5 years ago.

It's beautiful.
It's sad.
A lot of it is newly rebuilt.
A lot of people are survivors.

It was a wonderful time, and I will write more about it later, but suffice to say: If you go to Thailand, and you do not head south to the islands, you are missing out on something really important. Go. Live a little - don't waste a moment.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it