Thursday, February 22, 2007

Khao Lak


In many people's minds, the region of Phang Nga Province known as Khao Lak will be forever linked to the events of December 26, 2004. That fateful day saw the biggest tsunami in living memory sweep over the coastline up to 4kms inland, taking thousands of lives and livelihoods in its wake.

The official tsunami death toll for Phang Nga stands at 4,225 out of a total of 5,395 victims throughout Southern Thailand.

The 2005/06 high season saw visitors trickle back into the region, but predictably numbers were well down on previous years. There have been reports of unscrupulous travel agents in places such as Phuket and Ko Samui saying the region was completely destroyed, no doubt hoping to secure more tourist dollars for themselves. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Those who do stay away are missing out on some of Thailand's best beaches, world-class diving and some stunning hinterland. Perhaps more importantly, they're missing out on supporting the people of a region that came to depend on tourism and will face economic hardships until people come back.

The beaches are clean, the shops and nightspots are mostly open. There's tonnes of accommodation and plenty more on the way. The message Khao Lak's locals want to scream to the world is that they're still there, and by the 2006/07 high season the region will be better than ever.

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