Thursday, January 20, 2005

Email From Phuket

Hi Mom,

Late last week, I learned that Friday, Jan 21st is a public holiday in Singapore. I decided this week, that I wanted to go to Phuket and see if there was anything I could do to help. Many people around the world have donated money and that is great, but Phuket is located in my region of the world and is only 1:20 from Singapore by plane. I spent over two hours on the phone on Tuesday trying to contact aid agencies to see how I can help. It was a very frustrating process. They all want you to donate money, but when it comes to donating your physical labor and presence, they don't know how to handle you. I called the Singapore Red Cross thinking they could refer me to their counterparts in Thailand. The lady told me that Thailand doesn't need anymore help, which I find hard to believe. I sent out numerous emails to heads of agencies and social groups, like the Rotary Chapter president of Phuket. All my emails went unanswered.

I went ahead and booked a flight for today (Thurs) and came anyway. Figured I could get here and see how best to help. I will go back Monday morning to Singapore.

So far I can't believe the progress that has been made in just shy of a month here. All the streets are re-opened in the large resort community where I am staying called Patong Beach. On my stroll along the beach front, many hotels and shop fronts have been severly damaged, but reconstruction is in full swing. A large percentage of places are even advertising that they are up and running and open for business. The scale of the clean-up along the beach road must have been daunting, as I can still see massive piles of debris and locals are cleaning up and sifting through the damage trying to salvage what they can.

The number of foreign tourists is way down as you would imagine. I was approached by two young Thai girls today who were part of a hotel promotion plan to have the tourists that are here, go back to their home countries and tell everyone that Phuket is open and wants their business. It is an interesting word-of-mouth campaign and quite original. The locals here can't have the tourists stay away for too long, as the bulk of the local economy depends on it.

Tomorrow I am going to rent a motor-bike and travel around the island. I have a list of the local beaches and towns here in Phuket that have been affected. Maybe I can help somehow.

I will call you and Dad tonight my time and tell you more. Hope you are doing well and I will talk to you soon.




At 8:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yankee... thankyou for doing what only many of us around the world can wish we could do- physically help those in need xx


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