Hello Dear friends,
I am finally calming down after this extremely shocking global catastrophe. Please forward this on to anyone who is not on this list, internet is difficult here and I apologize to anyone who is not this list. You have to imagine what the Adaman sea is like: calm beautiful, blue and virtually waveless, in fact almost silent, more like a lake than a sea. The day before we did a four island snorkle trip and it was gorgeous. Our group of friends and family had a blast. Sunny, Leslie, Julia, Suzette, Colleen, and the teenagers, Sashwa, Jasmine, Raliegh, and Dylan.
Around eight oclock in the morning I was lying in bed when I felt an earthquake. It was so strange because it went on for almost for five minutes or more. After about three minutes I said to Colleen,”This can’t be an earthquake, a worker must be doing something to our bungalow.” I even got up and went outside to look and then decided it really was an earthquake and thought maybe Tokyo got hit.
A few minutes later I reached Michael by cell phone and was telling him how safe I felt snorkeling and that I hoped we would come here together and rent a boat and sail around, I forgot to mention the earthquake and wished I had as he would have advised us to get to higher ground.
We asked Julia and Suzette if they felt it and they said no. About forty five minutes later Suzette came running over to our bungalow saying there is this surf wave coming down the beach and we should hurry up and come and see it. My first response was tsunami! We are having a tsunami lets get moving and grab our stuff. Suzette and Julia and Sunny and Leslie had beachfront bungalows, so we all ran out to see the ocean retreating and coming in but the waves were small, the first one almost reached the bungalow but was very shallow, the second time it was a bit bigger, by then we were scrambling, waking the kids up and getting them to help.
The third wave came in and splashed off the steps, the next one crashed against the door with Suzette in inside. By this point it was clear we really had to move and fast. Sunny and Leslie were on the other side of a small river and could not get back over. The kids were up but clearly did not understand the scope of what was happening and although we knew it was dangerous we could never have imagined how huge this cataclysm was going to be.
Forget our stuff just save our lives! I was saying. I looked out and saw the ocean suck out and this wave started to form a couple of hundred feet out and it just got bigger and bigger. My heart stopped and I stood there saying Oh My God!
The locals who had all been stunned and confused, as they had never seen anything like this, looked horrified and so did we. We all started screaming run! run!
I had no idea how big this wave would get as it was still growing when I turned my back and started running. I had a cell phone and reached Michaels message service telling him what was happening and to go on line and find out what was happening and how long it would go on to. I am afraid it was a terrifying message to recieve. I was describing to him this twenty foot wave that was bearing down on us and we were running for our lives. My worst nightmare was coming true like a bad movie and then we were cut off.
I was praying please don’t let this wave just roll over us, please let it stop, let it break behind us and let us survive. I turned around once and saw the wave breaking between the trees and the two bungalows and just kept running knowing the water could still knock us down. We reached the resort reception area and people were in shock. And we all knew we were really still not safe.
At that point we ran back to our bungalows and grabbed our passports and money and fled towards the highway. Julia, Colleen and Jasmine and I were now seperated from the Suzette, Sashwa, Dylan Raliegh , Sunny and Leslie. Jasmine last saw Sahswa grabing the camera and saying he was goiing to get photos of it! we knew another one coming for sure.
The locals were all saying go go go. We headed towards the highway and waited and waited. Local Thai people were picking people up and heading up into the mountains. A pick up came by and they said Get in and we jumped into the truck and they took us up into a rubber tree plantation. We were all freaking out around the rest of us not being there. We ended up driving a bit further to a nice house and about fifty of us were there like refugees, Some injured, some in bathing suits, no shoes, some separated from family, children, loved ones.
From the house we could see the ocean and the water sucking out again. We now knew it was a huge quake in Indonesia. One English man was on our beach and he was tossed out of a boat, he was badly cut all over and he said seven people on the boat died. He saw his wife and baby on shore as the wave swept thru. He was in shock. Another woman down the beach from our place said she was in her bungalow and held onto the pole in the bathroon as the wave came thru and it destroyed her place miraculously she was left uninjured. The bungalow next door to hers had a wooden long boat crashed on top of it. It was occupied by a couple with an infant. They were not in the cabin and had made it up on the mountain with the rest of us.
Rumors flew around. more waves, more aftershocks, ferrys sunk, divers lost, resorts gone. We were worrying about the others did they make it Colleen and Jasmine and I decided to walk down to wear we heard there was another refugee camp. The Thai people had already showed up in truck with food and beer, donation only. They were so kind! We got a lift over to the elephant camp where many people had fled too, hoping our friends would be there and sure enough cheers and tears and hugs they had made it too!
Towards evening we decided to go back and get our stuff, hopefully, and seek accommodations somewhere up higher. We went back to demolished bungalows on the beach and found our stuff stashed in our place. Suzette and Sunny and Leslie were so lucky this did not happen in the middle of the night.
I was riding inside the pickup talking to the driver who was trying to find us a place up high to stay and I asked him if he was Buddhist or Muslim. He said Muslim. He asked me where I was from I said America. He said America hates us. It broke my heart, here was this man risking his own life to help us and thinking we hated him. How do you explain this all in broken language I did my best with a very pained heart.
We ended up at the most expensive place on the island and got to watch BBC and begin to grasp the scope of this disaster. We knew we were in the biggest natural disaster possibly ever. The stories came in from all around us of death and miraculous escapes lost children, husbands wives.
We were all humbled and as the night went on and over the next day to realize that there but for the grace God go I.
Before leaving we gathered on the beach and did a ceremony and prayers for all and the spirits of all those who left, the rich, the poor, the royal grandson, the animals, the children…..
Two days later we took a speed boat back to the mainland to fly back to Bangkok. There we saw our fellow travelers bandaged, injured, wheel chairs, greiving.. It was very shocking and very emotional. We are all still in shock I think.
In Bangkok as we exited customs all the embassies were there, so many countries looking for their people and doctors and nurses were there to help people. It was again very emotional for all of us. The Thai people we were with are mainly Muslim. They were kind, generous and literally risked their lives to help us.
As I watch the news and realize the enormity of what we went thru I can only thank the Fates and our guardian spirits. It is hard to face how some die and others live and that all of us escaped uninjured when so many died around us. We are so thankful to be together, to have lost none of the kids or one another. This kind of tragedy simply breaks one’s heart open to life and how fragile we all are. How can we wage war on another becomes even more impossible to contemplate. My love to all of you and I give thanks for the protection that surrounded us.
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