Ben Atreu Flegel, 25, a German survivor of the Asian tsunami who lost his grandparents ten years ago in this very beach, stands facing the sea in quiet reflection during a commemoration and religious ceremony for German, Austrian and Swiss victims of the tsunami, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014, in Khao Lak, Thailand. Dec. 26 marks the 10th anniversary of one of the deadliest natural disasters in world history: a tsunami, triggered by a massive earthquake off the Indonesian coast, that left more than 230,000 people dead in 14 countries and caused about $10 billion in damage.
We watched the tsunami coming from thousands of miles away.
Kinfolk were visiting for the holidays and one of them – a science teacher – had an app on his iPhone for global alerts of planet-affecting events. We knew of the tsunami alert before the poor buggers on the beaches of Thailand.
What the beach looks like – minus oil
The oil spill from a leaked pipeline in Thailand has reached one of the country’s popular tourism islands, officials have said.
The authorities have warned tourists to avoid oil-slicked water on Koh Samet.
A pipeline operated by PTT Global Chemical leaked on Saturday spilling an estimated 50,000 litres of oil.
Hundreds of people, including navy personnel, environment officials and villagers were battling to clean the oil from Samet’s beaches.
“The top priorities right now are to get rid of the oil on the sand and the seawaters, and to make sure the spill doesn’t spread to other shores,” said local deputy provincial governor Supeepat Chongpanish.
“This is a very beautiful, white, sandy beach, so we want to make the spill go away as soon as possible.”
Some hotel guests were cutting their holiday short because of the oil spill.
“…It’s chaotic right now. Many people and officials are on the beach dealing with it,” a hotel worker told AFP news agency.
Not so pretty for a spell. I don’t know anyone this side of Royal Dutch Shell who thinks the sight of oil on the water makes any place more attractive to tourists. Or to the folks who live there.
Buddhist monks pray at the Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok on Makha Bucha Day February 25, 2013. Makha Bucha Day honors Buddha and his teachings, and falls on the full moon day of the third lunar month.
Human composition, pattern recognition.
Thailand is not an easy country in which to be vegetarian. But once a year the country’s avid meat eaters lay down their spicy meat stir-fries in favour of vegetables and meat substitutes.
During the annual ten-day “Tesagin Kin Pak” vegetarian festival, yellow flags representing Buddhism and good moral conduct flutter in the wind above entire neighborhoods, while tiny mobile street carts with a lone yellow flag advertise vegetarian-friendly food.
Glistening tofu, noodles with bean sprouts, desserts made with sesame and ginger and steaming hot vegetable broths abound…
Every year during the ninth Chinese lunar month, the country’s Thai-Chinese community…observe ten days of abstinence.
Eating meat, having sex, drinking alcohol and other habits thought to be vices and pollutants of the body and mind are cut out entirely by the truly devoted, who also wear only white. The belief is that nine gods come down from heaven to inspect the earth and record the good and bad deeds people commit…
The festival in Phuket starts out sounding just as tame.. Although meat is not on the menu, the rituals involved in the event are unusually bloody. During the celebrations, many of the devotees go into trances and have the flesh of their mouths pierced…all in the name of ritual purification.
A British man has been arrested in Thailand after being found with six foetuses that had been roasted and covered in gold leaf as part of a black magic spirit ritual.
The corpses of the unborn baby boys were found packed in a suitcase in his hotel room in Bangkok’s Chinatown district.
Chow Hok Kuen, 28, who holds a British passport but is of Taiwanese origin, confessed to police that he had bought the foetuses several days earlier for almost £4,000. The source of the foetuses is unclear.
He said he intended to smuggle them to Taiwan where they would be sold for as much as six times what he paid on the internet to people who believe that their possession would bring wealth and good luck.
The man told police that that he was hired by another Taiwanese man, named Kun Yichen, who regularly travelled to Thailand to collect the ritualistic foetuses. Worship of the foetuses — observed by some on the Chinese community — is a Buddhist-animist practice known as Kuman Thong that is described in ancient Thai manuscripts…
Lore has it that if the owner reveres the ritual foetus, its spirit will warn and protect its possessor of danger. In practice the foetuses have been replaced by wooden effigies…
Officers made the gruesome discovery in the hotel in the Yaowarat district of Bangkok, where they found that the foetuses had also been tattooed and were adorned with religious threads.
You have to love transubstantiation.
In an effort to prove that no flood damaged vehicles will be sold to customers, the Honda factory in Thailand’s Ayutthaya province began destroying over 1,000 cars. The factory was one of the hardest hit by the several months of record flooding, which only receded a few weeks ago. The devastating floods were the worst the country experienced in 50 years and left over 700 people dead. According to AFP, the scrapping process is expected to take one month.
Honda’s production was disrupted from the floods and only recently returned to normal. According to AP, American Honda Executive Vice President John Mendel says it will not be until March that dealers will be fully restocked.
Aerial images of the submerged cars in the Honda lot provided powerful visuals of the effects of the severe flooding on businesses…The area is home to large production centers for global car and computer industries. According to Bloomberg, Toyota had to suspend local production of its Camry and Prius lines, and Apple faced delays in parts used for Mac computers. Western Digital shares hit a year low in October and is now working to regain their losses, according to Reuters.
Not that anyone in the United States would have to worry about buying a car leftover from a flood, eh?
As some of Thailand’s worst flooding in half a century bears down on Bangkok — submerging cities, industrial parks and ancient temples as it comes — experts in water management are blaming human activity for turning an unusually heavy monsoon season into a disaster.
The main factors, they say, are deforestation, overbuilding in catchment areas, the damming and diversion of natural waterways, urban sprawl, and the filling-in of canals, combined with bad planning. Warnings to the authorities, they say, have been in vain.
“I have tried to inform them many times, but they tell me I am a crazy man,” said Smith Dharmasaroja, former director general of the Thai Meteorological Department, who is famous here for predicting a major tsunami years before the one that devastated coastal towns in 2004.
The monsoon season this year has brought disaster to Cambodia, the Philippines and Vietnam as well as Thailand, where 283 people are reported to have died.
Thousands of people have been displaced as typhoons have battered the Philippines, and the country’s steep rice terraces of Banaue are reported to have been damaged by mudslides.
Floods have spread through Cambodia, where the city of Siem Reap is reported to be knee-deep in water, with floodwaters reaching the nearby temples of Angkor.
Thai officials are warning that, in the next few days, Bangkok could be inundated by a combination of heavy floodwaters from the north, unusually high tides and monsoon rains. People in some of the most threatened neighborhoods are building sandbag barriers around their homes and emptying shops of food, drinking water, batteries and candles…
Once the floodwaters reach Bangkok, they will pour into a city that has lost its natural defenses: a huge network of canals that have been filled in — or clogged with garbage — as the city has become an overcrowded behemoth.
As ye sow, so shall ye reap. It doesn’t require warnings on a biblical scale to explain that stupidity and greed combine and grow over time to produce an almighty disaster.