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AA And Thailand TSUANMI

Thailand in December is a good month to visit, great weather the holiday mood is in full swing, and so many tourists are here from all over the world. Most of the tourists including the Americans prefer the south east area of phukett a bit more expensive then other areas, but who cares? It's still a cheaper deal than America and especially Europe, with the dollar so weak at this time. There is just so much to see and do, from beach bumming, snorkeling touring the various islands, parasailing, to fine dinning, smoking Cuban cigars and of course the night life, it's all here. And that's pretty much what people where doing here on Dec 26, 2004.

The day started off as usual, with many people hanging out on the beach or visiting the surrounding islands. Then came the first sign of something out of the ordinary, the ground began shaking, then a short while later the tide, rather then rolling up onto the beach was rescinding out, further and further, until people watching noticed a massive wave building, then the shouting started: "Tidal wave! Tidal wave clear the beach!" But at this point it was too late; the massive force covered the beach and crushed into the beach front property and hotels. Many people in Phukett - mostly American and Europeans - where killed instantly. The kings oldest daughter's son while in his hotel, was killed, his father an American and in the States at the time was notified.

While all this was taking place, I had just returned home from the noon AA topic discussion meeting, here in Pattaya the topic was making amends. Our area was not affected much for that we are all grateful. My phone rang from various AA friends and neighbors telling me what had happened. I tried calling AA friends in that area, the phone lines where down, on the computer, I was able to reach two English friends living in Phukett, they mentioned how they where on there way down to the beach when they where encountered by a massive crowd returning in panic saying go back it?s a tidal wave, next came all the emergency vehicles. They said the horror and panic felt was overwhelming and they joined in running back to higher ground. Many people were not as fortunate they lay trapped within the structures that collapsed. Watching the CNN and BBC news stations here in Pattaya it appeared to be a hopeless situation.

So much destruction and death. What struck me the most was the children wandering aimlessly looking for there parents. An amazing thing occurred in all this confusion, people saw what needed to be done and in a combined effort did what they felt was necessary. Women gathered up the wandering children and provided them with comfort, others began the search for survivors within the damaged buildings, and Thai people came from the surrounding communities bringing food water blankets and clothing. A survivor reported to CNN that she was overwhelmed by the kindness that the Thai women displayed to her, with her hotel destroyed and all her possessions lost, she was approached by a Thai woman that had given her 500 Baht( equal to $12), which is a lot of money that she needed for her own family, this Thai woman said "I only wish I had more to give you". In response to this wonderful gesture, she began crying and said how ashamed she felt; for this type of kindness would not be received in her own country, and she said when back home she would do all she can in helping others.

Many countries sent relief teams here to help, and from the Thai communities like here in Pattaya many of us foreigners gave blood, food clothing and money, and many of the Thai people did as well. AA people from the Phukett area have been visiting with us her. In the meetings, you can imagine how grateful they spoke of being alive and a power greater then them selves providing another day of life. The AA meetings in Phukett did not stop but rather increased, some to different locations. I was please to hear that the king of Thailand declared all the children orphaned by this tragedy will be provided for with a safe envoirment clothing and food, o be relocated with relatives or placed in an orphanage.

Discussions and planning are now taking place with the help of the USA and other countries regarding advance weather warning systems. As you all can imagine the effects of this tragedy will be with us for always, but moving on in a positive direction, grateful for that of which was not taken and to appreciate it all the more.

In closing I can say Thailand is a wonderful country to enjoy for all of us foreigners living or visiting here. Of the many attractions we do get to enjoy here, the AA meetings found all over this country, and the comfort of feeling welcomed by the people of Thailand is to me the absolute best of all!

Regards in the Fellowship

Chicago Mike


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