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I can't believe this is happening – beach bumming in Thailand

Left: Aerial view of people sunbathing next to Patong beach, Thailand, four days after a tsunami hit the area. Right: rotting bodies being buried in mass graves. (Reuters)

With 121,000 dead (and rising), people apparently didn’t have a second thought of vacationing in this disaster area. I don’t see how this is safe; there are probably dead bodies still washing ashore, and how is the drinking water and sanitation OK? There is a serious risk of communicable diseases in Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

I don’t even want to talk about the moral issue of being able to vacation conscience-free while people are sick and dying, starving and homeless just miles from you. Yes, these countries count on tourism dollars as an essential chunk of their economies, but this is not the best way to help these people out at this time — by putting additional stress on basic services.

What is predictable is that the governments of these nations are downplaying the impact of of the tsunami because of that dependency on tourists and they won’t care if it has an adverse impact on locals. (AP):

While foreign survivors of the ocean’s onslaught were put up in an international school complete with beds, TVs and Internet connections, Thais from a devastated fishing village slept outside, many without blankets, burning wood to keep warm and keep mosquitos at bay.

…”No one came to help, we just helped each other out,” said 65-year-old Yokhin Chuaynui, whose home in Ban Nam Khem was destroyed. “When injured Thais went to the hospital, if they weren’t about to die they helped the Westerners first.”

…Robert Eunson, 52, from Yorkshire, northern England, said that “the greatest need should be given the greatest care,” but he acknowledged there was an element of self-interest in Thai authorities’ rush to help foreigners.

“Tourism is so important to them so it’s a hierarchy,” he said.

Jeanette Dombrowe, 32, a German native who has lived for years on the Thai island of Koh Payam, agreed.

The villagers are second-class victims, but if we don’t look after the Westerners the nation could lose its tourism – so the villagers have to understand,” she said.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding