Wednesday, December 29, 2004
I don't often do serious on this blog. MarkCity is a fun, frivolous place, where reality TV is of greater import than elections; where the antics of a pair of rats take precedence over discussions about the meaning of life. This first post-Xmas post was supposed to be all about what presents I got and the amusing things grandad/small nephews did on the day. But the tsunami has made me feel as if all that's pretty unimportant.

My concerns are centred in Phi Phi, where Butter and I holidayed a couple of years ago with Sue and Darren. You can see our pictures of this beautiful island by clicking on the left. The hotel, the bamboo huts, the swimming pool, the rows of dive shops and cheap restaurants; the little cafe where I befriended the 'lemon shake' girl; the jetty from which we embarked on a near-fatal snorkelling trip; the deckchairs where I read Harry Potter books and tried not to get sand in my iPod. All gone, including many of the people who lived and worked there. Phi Phi was the place where The Beach was filmed. After that, we all thought tourism was going to wreck that tropical paradise. Nature got there first.

I've just dug out my journal from that holiday. These were my first impressions of Phi Phi:

"It's heaven here. Sand as white and fine as castor sugar; water that's so warm you could bathe a baby in it. Phi Phi is beautiful. Full stop. The sea, the sky, the sand, the rocks and cliffs that frame the horizon. I keep expecting to see Leonardo DiCaprio turn the corner; for a boatload of bounty hunters to fetch up on the shore, looking for paradise.

We're staying in the PP Princess Resort: shamelessly package-touristy; a collection of wooden bungalows crowded into a mini village that touches the beach. Our bunglaow is great, with a big white bed and matching drapes that make it look like something from the Save a Prayer video..."

It goes on for pages, and is pretty mundane, typical-holiday stuff (well, apart from the near-drowning and watching a girl get attacked by monkeys). Now, though, it seems imbued with pathos. You don't know what you've got till it's gone. All that kind of stuff. I just hope that the people we met while we were there are okay. I'll never know, though.