Beach Tales

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I’ll probably make this my last triptik-type post. After all, you didn’t come here to look at home movies. But I did want to comment on this idyllic scene from where I stayed:

Gorgeous, isn’t it? That is Nai Thon Beach, on the western coast of Phuket in Thailand. It’s pretty much paradise. That is, until you look closer. Here’s a shot I took, and it’s just like this for the entirety of the beach, wherever the waves are able to reach.

The folks that live here try to clean it up. I saw them, day after day, filling huge garbage bags with all this crap. But the sea keeps delivering fresh tonnage of garbage. It’s pretty damned sad, although my hat is off to the folks trying to beat back the nastiness. It really ruins things, and it looks so much better raked clean, as it was from time to time.

On a more positive note, I had a lot of fun with a little app called PictureThis. As I was on the beach, I kept wondering what different plants were. For example, I saw this on the sand: a strange kind of fruit that fell from a tree, and the fruit looked like gigantic candy corn.

All I had to do was point my camera at it, and bang, it told me exactly what it is. I honestly could hardly believe it. No matter what part of the plant I photographed, it was able to tell me what it was. (It turns out the item above is from the Mengkuang or Seashore pandan tree (also known as “screwpine’), and it’s second only to the coconut as a staple food supply in these parts.

Since I tend to have a fascination with the macabre, I also did some reading about the horrible tsunami of 2004 that struck this area. And when I saw “this area”, I mean it was ground zero.

For those who don’t recall, it took place the day after Christmas in 2004. In your mind’s eye, picture the earth spitting in front of you, with one part thrusting 50 feet in the air. 50 feet is a lot – – that’s like a 6 story building. It takes an ungodly amount of energy to do that.

Now imagine that same split continuing on for one thousand miles. Pretty much the height of the United States mainland. That’s what happened in the span of moments under the ocean, and it released all the energy of the entirety of World War 2 (including those two atom bombs)……..times two. Thus creating thirty foot high waves that traveled at 600 miles per hour onto multiple continents. We are talking about a Biblical amount of energy here.

It was unsettling to look at all the scenic beauty and to recollect what I was enjoying was precisely what many other people were enjoying in the same way during a pleasant holiday season. Except, without warning, they were suddenly swept out to sea. Nearly 300,000 souls. It makes 9/11 seem like rounding error in comparison.

I’m glad the area has largely healed. I was pleased to have made the visit. But it’s so good to be home.