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 Africa86 votes
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WheresCherie.COM Quote
"To understand all is to forgive all." -- French saying

278: Thailand: Phi Phi (Days Before the Tsunami)
@ Book & Movie Reviews     Feb 23 2005 - 10:04 PST
cherie writes: Two major events in the last 4 years have brought Thailand’s Phi Phi Island (pronounced Pee Pee) to the world’s attention. First in 2000, 20th Century Fox released “The Beach” starring Leonard DeCaprio which was filmed on Koh Phi Phi. Soon Phi Phi Ley’s pristine Maya Cove became world famous for its stunning and majestic beauty.

Second, on Dec 26, 2004, a few days after Hannah and I frolicked in the islands pristine waters, a tsunami shredded the island’s beauty. Longboats were smashed into splinters and their owners were swept out to sea.

Days later, foreign newspapers published photos of Phi Phi the world would never forget. This time the picturesque beach was covered with dead and wounded people. Surviving Thais and tourists were doubled over in grief.

These photos of Hannah and I are still hard for me to look at. Just a few days before the tragedy, they preserve a snapshot of Phi Phi’s peaceful beauty. No one could have guess the magnitude of the destruction that was about to occur.

I left Thailand on Dec 23rd while Hannah traveled to Ko Pha-Ngan, an island on the east coast of Thailand. If you weren’t in Asia at the time, you might not know this: but one event saved thousands of lives in Thailand. Ko Pha-Ngan’s famous Full Moon Party drew tourists not just from all over Thailand, but from all over South East Asia. Almost every backpacker in Thailand headed for the crazy all-night party which occurred on the same day as the tsunami (Dec 26th.) The Guidebook Lonely Planet wrote: “As the moon reaches its monthly climax, every other corner of Thailand empties out for the massive migration to Ko Pha-Ngan and its famous Full Moon rave parties.”

Koh Pha-Ngan was protected from the tsunami’s devastation by its location on the eastern side of Thailand. You might say this wild blur of a party saved Hannah life, and possibly the lives of the other 10,000 Full Moon Ravers.

Click on each picture to see it full size.

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Cherie and Hannah on Phi Phi Island a few days before the Tsunami hit.

Cherie and Hannah on Phi Phi Island a few days before the Tsunami hit.

Cherie and Hannah in Maya Bay, where the movie "The Beach" was filmed.

Cherie and Hannah in Maya Bay, where the movie "The Beach" was filmed.

Phi Phi Island.

Phi Phi Island.

Long boats lined up on Phi Phi's shore.

Long boats lined up on Phi Phi's shore.

Not even a ripple disturbs the peaceful sea.

Not even a ripple disturbs the peaceful sea.

Cherie near a sea-side cave.

Cherie near a sea-side cave.

They get bird's nests from these caves to make Bird's Nest Soup (which remarkably brings in more dollars than the visiting tourists.)

They get bird's nests from these caves to make Bird's Nest Soup (which remarkably brings in more dollars than the visiting tourists.)

A cave by the crystal blue sea.

A cave by the crystal blue sea.

Here we go!

Here we go!

Hannah enjoying the view.

Hannah enjoying the view.

Exploring the island.

Exploring the island.

Phi Phi became world famous after "The Beach" was filmed there.

Phi Phi became world famous after "The Beach" was filmed there.

There's Cherie!

There's Cherie!

Cherie and Hannah cooling off.

Cherie and Hannah cooling off.

Let's explore on foot!

Let's explore on foot!

Our long boat driver.

Our long boat driver.

Hannah.

Hannah.

You can't help but fall in love with a place like this.

You can't help but fall in love with a place like this.

Hannah by the boat.

Hannah by the boat.

Back in the boat.

Back in the boat.

The water is so clear I could make lemonade with it!

The water is so clear I could make lemonade with it!

Going for a swim.

Going for a swim.

Boats lined up like soldiers.

Boats lined up like soldiers.

Our Thai guide.

Our Thai guide.

The afternoon soak.

The afternoon soak.

Hannah's happy!

Hannah's happy!

Cherie at "the Beach."  Where's Leonardo?

Cherie at "the Beach." Where's Leonardo?

Cherie and Hannah at Maya Bay, Thailand.

Cherie and Hannah at Maya Bay, Thailand.

There's the opening back to the sea.

There's the opening back to the sea.

Is it really a good idea to name your boat "Marijuana?"

Is it really a good idea to name your boat "Marijuana?"

The peaceful sea holds unimaginable violence.

The peaceful sea holds unimaginable violence.

A "spirit house" on Phi Phi.

A "spirit house" on Phi Phi.

A long boat driver zooms by.

A long boat driver zooms by.

A broom-seller in Koh Lanta.

A broom-seller in Koh Lanta.

A little boy looking for crabs.

A little boy looking for crabs.

A little Thai at low tide.

A little Thai at low tide.

Sunset.

Sunset.

A fisherman at sunset.

A fisherman at sunset.

Cherie and Hannah on the beach.

Cherie and Hannah on the beach.

Cherie and Hannah by the water.

Cherie and Hannah by the water.

Hannah with a Thai with an afro.

Hannah with a Thai with an afro.

Thai money, the baht.

Thai money, the baht.