Would it not be for the Tsunami Memorial, the big ships that had been transported by the tsunami waves onshore and the construction site for the new tsunami museum, one could never imagine the devastation that the 2004 tsunami had brought to this place. New and/or rebuild hotels and guesthouses line the beach, probably more than ever before, and tourists are all around and enjoy their holidays in bungalows and hotels less than 20 m from the beach.
Khao Lak and the neighboring villages along the Andaman Sea coast are rather nice places, with long sand beaches and rolling hills with dense vegetation towards the east. The sunset is spectacular and can be enjoyed without the crowd populating busy Phuket.
Given the large number of tourists here, it was surprising to see that so few people visited the two ships that had been washed ashore by the tsunami waves, or the memorial park, which had been built close to the beach. The park is a nice and quiet place with a huge Buddha figure, a beachfront walk, and a long wall containing plates with the names of people who had died and disappeared. A small museum shows pictures of before and after the event.
The wall commemorating some of the women and men, boys and girls, who died on December 26, 2004 is a very touching place. Plates commemorating those lost in the tsunami wave are engraved along the wall. Some plates contain pictures, some only engraved names, and on some the names had already disappeared. Watching a couple, who had lost their 11 year old son placing flowers around his picture, made the devastation and aftermath of the December tsunami very real.
On my way to the little museum I met a young boy, who looked at me, said something and then pointed towards the sea. I did not understand what he had said, so I asked him what he meant. “Tsunami, tsunami”, the little one shouted and when I turned my head towards the sea, he laughed.
Our memories are short and if we don’t manage to convey our memories to those who are younger, memories will be even shorter.