Head for the Hills
By Ryan Haynes

Many of you have called or e-mailed inquiring about our status in regard to the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia. We're all safe. We (Me, Eleanor, Miles, Eleanor's brother, his wife, and her parents and brother) were all spending the holidays together on one of the islands that got hit. Everyone is fine and we are now back in Bangkok. We were on an island called Railay Beach, which is roughly about 40 miles from Phuket and a 10 minute boat ride from the town of Krabi. Phuket is the beach resort town that has been in the news that got hit very hard. Most people fly in and out of Krabi in order to get to Railay Beach and this is what we did. Krabi is the largest town in the area and it was hit pretty hard as well. In the Krabi area, 128 people were either injured or killed. Railay Beach is a beach that is only accessible by boat and there are no cars/roads on the island. Eleanor was on one of the beaches on the island when the big waves hit. Fortunately, we were staying on the east side of the island that was well protected and not hit that badly. The west side got hammered. People were badly
injured and some people were killed. We had no warning that a tsunami was coming because it is such a freak occurrence. As soon as the waves hit, we were told to get to higher ground. We were on a hilltop from 11:30 A.M. to 9:30 P.M. with about 1,000 other people. It had the feel of a refugee camp, but the spirit was great. People were helping one another out, sharing food and water. Mothers with infants were sharing formula with other mothers; people were giving others spare clothes. The humanity of everyone was such a nice thing to see. The reason we stayed on the hill so long was because people were afraid of after shocks and more tidal waves. Every half hour we were told that the "Big One" was coming! And this was the annoying aspect of the day; there were no credible or reliable news sources. For the 10 hours we were on that hill, we had no reliable or accurate news reports. This lack of information, led to widespread rumors that unfortunately kept a lot of people in fear. At 10:00 P.M. El, Miles, and I decided we had had enough and we went back to our place. By this time, many people had returned to their hotels, but many others remained on the hill. It was great to return to our room and turn on CNN to see what was really going on. But even when we were in our bed at 11 P.M., the manager of our place raced into our room out of breath telling us, “You must return to the hill because another big wave is coming any minute!” El and I just looked at one another and told the manager, “Ok.” I then went outside, looked at the water and the water was pretty calm. I looked at the other guests who had returned to the hotel and they were relaxed, playing cards, and socializing. I returned to our room told El, “I think we should just stay.” El agreed with me. I must admit; I slept with one eye open the entire night on the lookout for water since our bungalow was not far from the sea. Fortunately, the “Big One” never came.

We had a 2:30 flight back to Bangkok today. The hotel arranged a boat for us to get back to the mainland the town of Krabi where the local airport is located. When we got to the airport and we started talking to people, it became even more apparent how blessed and fortunate we were. Eleanor spoke with a woman whose only possessions were the clothes she was wearing. Everything else she had was gone and her hotel was destroyed. I spoke with a gentleman who said the hotel he was staying in was destroyed. He spent the night helping the hotel staff. Both of these people were staying on the island of Koh Lanta, which is also very close to where we were staying. The only things we had to contend with were being displaced for most of the day, hunger (everything was closed), and we were without power most of the day. Other than that we were ok.

It's great being back in Bangkok.. Miles has been a real trooper! He has been wonderful throughout this entire ordeal. He slept, he played, and he wasn't fussy at all.

Thank you for all of the phone calls, e-mails, concern, and prayers. When we were on the hill awaiting the “Big One” I received a few phone calls on my cell phone. That truly surprised me because when I tried to call out; the network stayed busy and the network from the island was intermittent at best. Plus, we were in a pretty remote area. One of the phone calls I received was from my life insurance agent here in Bangkok. I recently increased my policy and my agent was calling to see if me and my family were ok. She promised us good service when I paid my premium last week and it looks like she was trying to keep her word. All I can say is, we are so blessed.