I am writing this entry for my blog from Kata Beach, Phuket, Thailand. The day after the tsunami struck. I was lucky. For once in my life I was glad I had had a bit too much to drink the night before and despite waking around 08:15 I drifted back to sleep with a mild hangover I hoped would go away before I had to get up at 10:00. Around 09:50 I did get up, went for a shower and some time between 10:00 and 10:15 came back out, opened the curtains of my hotel room and looked out over the the bay. Thankfully we are staying at the Orchidacia hotel, I would guess some 100' above sea level. It was really weird. Usually the bay is a beautiful blue colour. On this day it appeared to have all sorts of debris in it. I called my wife over and she was just as puzzled as me. I thought maybe there had been a ship wreck; my wife guessed some garbage had drifted into the bay. The full horror of the situation only became apparent much later.
Our understanding is that the tsunami struck about 10:00 local time. After locating my binoculars it soon became apparent that the floating debris was a combination of linos, plastic chairs, capsized boats. It was difficult to make too much out as we must have been about 1/2 a kilometre away form the bay.
As we watched it became apparent that the sea was behaving very oddly. Waves were not breaking as normal. The sea appeared to be surging. One such surge practically emptied what we could see of the bay. This was followed by the sea moving repidly back into the bay and reaching right up to the promanade area (and possibly beyond). Usually the sea is a good 50M away from theis area. At no time could we make out any people.
The whole scene had a surreal feel to it. There were people, like my wife and myself, gazing on the scene from our balconies. There was no panic. No one seemed to believe what we were seeing. Around 10:40 I went down to reception and asked what had happened. Again there was no panic, just puzzlement and the explanation of a 'big wave'. It just seemed as though this was something that happened every now and again.
We were booked on a trip to the 'James Bond island' around 11:00 and until around 10:50 the travel agent thought this was going ahead. However, it became apparent around 11:00 that this was not going to happen and so we agreed to go the next day and thought we would wander around Kata Beach town. This when when we began to realise what was really going on. As we walked the 50m down the hill into Kata Beach town people suddenly came sprinting up the hill. There was confusion and we discovered 2 more tsunamis were expected and that everyone was advised to seek higher ground. A british tourist with first aid experience was trying to find where people with injuries were being taken. However, I have to say the atmosphere was more one of mild worry rather than terror.
I currently live in Sri Lanka and seeing the CNN & BBC world news coverage I am unsure exactly what I will be going back. My heart goes out to the people back home in Sri Lanka. From 12 months of living out there I know of the wooden shacks that are built right on the beach and I can imagine the devestation that must have followed the impact of the waves.
I will post some more details either later on today or tomorrow. Currently things are rapidly returning to normal. Buses appear to be running. Our hotel was completely unaffected. My wife and myself still feel as though we are living in a slightly surreal world.
Edit: Link To Part Two