Phang Nga, Thailand: This morning I got up at the crack of dawn to beat the heat and cycle in the environs of Phang Nga to meet the neighbors. I headed north, in parallel to the Andaman coast, through green countryside, past water buffalos and shrimp farms, and through a series of tiny villages to arrive at the town of Thai Mueng. A number of seemingly stray dogs motivated me to keep my pace up.
This is rural Thailand at its best: pretty and friendly, with life stirring — but not too much. Most of the Thais I met (and I met a lot this morning) were very curious about the farang cycling through with camera in hand. I was twice invited to breakfast.
Spirit houses and Tsunami evacuation directions are both ubiquitous in this part of Thailand. Most properties and businesses have a spirit house, and along the roads bilingual Tsunami signs, erected after the 2004 horrific event which claimed many lives in Phuket and Phang Nga, are evident. For good reason Phuket remains on alert and news travels quickly. Yesterday a 7.5 magnitude earthquake occurred off Sumatra in the very early morning. By 6:15am our domestic staff were aware of and deeply concerned about this event. A quick online surf to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center indicated there was no threat from this quake. During the 2004 tsunami, the beach where my home is was spared from the destruction that affected other parts of Phuket and Khao Lak thanks to offshore tin mining in years past which changed the contours of the sea floor and muted the wave’s impact.