Kimi B Ley

From life as a beach bum scuba instructor in a bounty ad., to the joys of englandshire-upon-sewageville...Hugs and I'll blow some bubbles for ya

Monday, January 31, 2005

Phi Phi viewpoint - Bounty Advert or what?

December 26th - Tsunami

I was working the night shift when the news broke about the tsunami in Asia. News 24 was on. I think it was about 04.00 that I noticed. At that time news reports were still quite vague, but did include that Thailand had been hit after Indonesia. I looked at the footage in utter horror, disbelief and shock.

It's difficult now over a month on to remember what went through my Mind, and exactly how I felt over than complete fear. As the night progressed, it became apparent that the West side of Thailand had been hit hard, which would include Ko Phi Phi. Boxing day. My whole community, my island, and so little news about it.

I can remember praying and praying and begging for M. Boucher to be alive, to be safe. The thought that most of my friends could be gone in an instant would not leave me. The high probability that most of them would be diving did occur.

I remember thinking to myself and promising myself that it didn't matter even if I never saw him again, that he could be with whoever he wanted, he could even open his own bar full of prostitutes, anything as long as Boucher was alive, was safe.

From the minute the news broke here, I tried to call him, I tried to text, to email. All phone lines were down into Thai networks, and later I was to learn within the country too. It was utter helplessness. I could not process the sheer number of people I personally knew and loved that would have been involved, the Thai children I used to play with and babysat, the longtail boatmen, too many. And on Christmas day I had spoken to almost all of them, except for M. Boucher. I had remained steadfast and determined that as he wanted no contact I wouldn't phone him. It is immensely odd the regrets that go through your head at those moments. We just never know what our last words to someone may be, or may not be, things said, things left unsaid...

It is all slightly hazy for me now, the waiting to hear. It felt like forever, and the whole time, the scale of the disaster was becoming clearer and the fear and despair increasing. I could not move from the TV screen and internet reports, it was as if I were trapped in some trance like state, somewhere other than then. I remember finding it hard to breath, visibly shaking, my legs being like jelly, feeling convinced I would vomit.

A few hours later, at around 9am (uk time) my friend west called me. West lived on pp, had bought her own house there and been living and working on the island for 4 or 5 years, but had been in dub visiting family for Christmas. She had recently split from her longtime boyfriend, anan, a thai muay thai fighter, and boatman. She had just heard the news. I can't remember specifics, just that we broke down, sobbing on the phone, scared, guilty, helpless.

I couldn't sleep that day. I couldn't take my eyes from the tv, or move from the phone. More and more friends from when I had lived on pp but who had also left were getting in contact. I had phoned Boucher's parents but they were away for Christmas, I phoned his english friends, anyone I could think of who may have heard.

I went to work that night, still having heard nothing from anyone on the island, and having seen helicopter footage of the destruction to pp, which remained cut-off.

It was 04.13 that I received my first text message from Boucher, quickly followed by him phoning. Over 24 hours since the event. I am still unable to find words that can adequately describe that moment, the joy, the relief, the thanks.He was alive and safe, but very shaken and obviously in shock. He had seen most of my close friends, and they were alive although some had sustained terrible injuries.

Boucher had been diving when the waves hit. PP was hit by 3 waves. Diving was probably why he had survived. He almost hadn't gone that day, having a dodgy stomach that morning following the Christmas day festivities. He said they could feel 3 immensely strong currents, and that some divers had been hurtled past him and our friend the gayer. As they returned to the surface the dive boats broke the news to them. Some dive boats had received warning a few minutes prior to the event from other boats further out, and had managed to shelter and turn into the waves. None of the dive boats were effected. It was only as the boats headed back to the island that the nature of the disaster had confronted them. The buildings were gone, the corrugated iron shacks that many of the locals lived in were nowhere. You could see through to the other side of the island. And everywhere you looked there were dead bodies, people screaming, people searching, people in shock, debris, entire buildings like kindling for a God's bonfire.

I have since received many first hand accounts of my friends separate experiences of the waves, which in time I shall share. These are the only photos I have been able to access of pp during the tsunami although am unsure how long they will remain here
As can be seen from photos the main stretch of pp is shaped like a dumbbell, at parts less than 100 meters wide from Ton Sai Bay(on the left of the pictures) to Loh Dalum Bay(on the right). Due to the direction of the waves, the topography of the sea bed and the cliff faces, pp was hit almost simultaneously from both sides, 3 times. One of my friends started to run from it to see it surging towards her from the other direction.

For those on pp, helping the sick, getting to high ground and starting to collect bodies was the priority those first 24 hours.Survival.With communications down, they didn't know whether the mainland was even aware of their plight, what they were meant to do. Most people spent the night up at the viewpoint, on high ground, with those who were brave enough going downhill to collect bottled water and supplies from any shops left standing for those in need. At that point in time, there was no choice other than to loot from shops still standing for simple survival.

M. Boucher told me of 2 friends that had had to be airlifted off the island as soon as the emergency services could access it. One was the turtle and one bex, both in a pretty bad way. As my friends and Boucher headed to what became the evacuation point he was speaking to me on the phone. It was so wrenching to hear him speak, then stop midsentence saying there's another body, and another one, lines of them. But I was so fortunate personally, we were crying over the phone to each other in relief.

West and I had spent the entire night instant messaging each other, trying the emergency lines, searching through the internet, waiting for news. I messaged her that I was on the phone to him , and this way we managed to ascertain that anan was alive, and uninjured. It felt so good being able to give her that relief, for her wait to be over too.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Our lil bamboo bunglaow

Monsieur Boucher et moi


Welcome, bienvenue and sawadee ka. So I guess that at some juncture I shall have to fully introduce the players in this blog, but it feels like a slight chore at the mo., and don't really know where to begin. In brief resume of current and not so very past situe, I am Kimi, 28 yrs old, already married and divorced by age 25 (shameful and somewhat embarrassing...more the fact that I was that stupid, and with that c**ting f**kpig). This slight change in circumstance lead to a dreamlike existence of moving to Thailand and becoming a scuba samurai/dive ninja, also known as a PADI diving instructor on Ko Phi Phi...much more to come on that (really was like a bounty advert). It was on pp I met my compass star, Monsieur Boucher, fell in a big way, lived in a beautiful bamboo bungalow with thatched palm leaves for a roof and joined the community there. Obviously being real life, well my real life, things didn't continue to be dreamlike, and I have returned to englandshire-upon-sewageville(not the biggest fan ever) to be a responsible adult and pay off debts accrued whilst married to forsaid ex-husband.

My relationship with M. Boucher however, will bring hours of entertainment to readers, it reads somewhat like a photo story from The Sun. My lack of resolve, generally hopeless causeness is no doubt highly laughable when not engaged in it. Love that Boucher, we are not together anymore, he lives 6000 miles away but doesn't change a thing. As they said in the land of smiles Boucher and me are same,same,but different. Hugs and smiles xx