For the last couple of weeks or so, I have been unable to talk to Sam and have missed him sorely. Bob and I have been away, in Thailand, and due to the intense heat, our overcrowded schedule, a lack of internet security, and a dose of heat sickness, I had neither the time nor the energy or inclination to write a great deal.
From what I have been given to understand by the Thai people who live there, Thailand does not have four seasons as do we in Australia–Spring, summer, autumn, winter–but three seasons instead: the Hot Season, the Cold Season, and the Wet or Rainy Season.
We literally rattled across the skies to Thailand in a seriously old Boeing 747 and arrived slap bang in the middle of the Wet Season, and about a month before the tourist season began. Despite this particular aircraft’s age and state and the high turbulence we suffered, we arrived at Bangkok airport safe and sound, all in one piece, and immediately changed planes to travel on down to Phuket Island. There, we were picked up from the airport, and driven in style and comfort to the Surin Beach boutique hotel, the Manathai Surin, directly across from the beach. So what was this hotel like? It was absolutely beautiful, and the staff was wonderful to say the least. They were friendly, very happy to see us, always smiling, looked out for our safety and welfare, and were always most anxious to please. In fact, a number of the staff, and their friends, as well as some of the locals have become our good friends, even joining in with us to celebrate Bob’s birthday, and have said they will write to me. We stayed there for almost two weeks, and I’m afraid I was a BIG SOOK the morning we left for Bangkok, and cried when the staff came out to the front of the hotel and stood there crying, waving us goodbye and calling to “please, please come back!” As one tour guide remarked to me, “Jo, you have a family.” Strangely, I really feel that I do.
Even though it was the Wet Season the rain did not bother us, and it not deter us from doing what we planned to do, and did, each day. Rain is just Nature, and there is nothing one can do about nature other than carry on, and take things as they come. The heat and the intense humidity was another matter, but had to be tolerated nevertheless. Where we were, was, after all, almost right on the Equator.
Unlike Patong where the tsunami of 2004 did so much damage and took lives, Surin Beach did not feel the effects of the tsunami as much, but it was still affected. No-one in Surin was hurt though, all the residents ran up the hill and were safe. Below, on the left, is a photo of the tsunami evacuation procedure sign on a corner of the street up the road from the Manathai Surin Beach boutique hotel. On the right, is a photo of the solid concrete building directly across the road from the shops three or four doors and less than a minute’s walk down the road from the hotel. This building houses the tsunami coastal warning system.
When the tsunami hit Surin Beach, the sea roared in and covered much of the strip along the beach opposite the hotel precinct and some of the shops, sweeping away buildings, and wrecking a lot of the gardens. Later, the government issued the order that other buildings, shops, and restaurants, that had sprung up after the tsunami, be removed from the beach strip. Now, at long last, this beach-side strip is being cleaned up and made presentable, and readied to be turned into beautiful gardens. Now, at the present time, though, it’s still early days, and the signs of the tsunami and its damaging effects are still very visible.
Below: the small “lake” situated near the building that houses the tsunami warning siren is by courtesy of the tsunami–the water dug itself a sizeable hole and became trapped. Now, coconut palms grow around the edges and drop their coconut fruits into the water. The grand building visible through palms in the bottom photo was a former King’s holiday and week-end house. I will discuss this in a later post.
Even though the strip along Surin Beach that is waiting to be turned into gardens and beautified is in a bit of a mess, the beach is patrolled. Surin Beach can be a dangerous place to swim–strong rips, rogue waves, small tsunami-like actions, rocks, turbulence–yet people still surf there. The life-guards take their job very seriously. They are very strict with people on the beach and in the water, and keep a sharp eye out for everyone’s safety. In fact, so seriously do they take their job that they have set up their camp on the beach, next to the life-guard watch tower, and are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every week of the year.
The life-guards review the beach and surf conditions constantly, moving the flags to swim between accordingly, but the flags are not widely spaced apart and swimmers are only allowed to swim in this narrow, marked area. Still, Surin Beach is very beautiful and very appealing.