Two years ago, I spent Christmas in the South of Thailand, but not on the coast. I heard Phuket, on the Indian Ocean, got hit hard. I had stayed several days mid-December, 2002 at a place in Kata, which was very nice. I was curious if I could get any news of Kata. Well, the Seattle Times has a dispatch from a tourist. The destruction in Thailand’s tourist areas has been severe:

Tonight I went to Patong again. It’s the largest beach and shopping area and where the largest group of tourists are. It’s about a mile long and four blocks deep and full of big stores and small shops. Big hotels. The Sheraton and everything — and I mean everything — is destroyed.

The author is visiting ex-pats in the local hospitals. Thailand’s public health system is not the greatest, and being in a foreign country in bad times just adds to the stress. And there is plenty of tragedy to go around:

The first room we went in was a young Swedish man with a major cut all the way down his leg. His Thai wife was sitting next to him with a large bandage on her chin. We asked him how he was doing, and he said that this was nothing because they had lost their 3-month-old daughter. Just washed away. The woman just started crying uncontrollably. It was heart wrenching. We gave them a hug, and they were very appreciative that we came by.

Read the article. Thailand, America, wherever, we are all so many peas in the same pod.

We got shocked on September 11 because a handful of crazies managed to fell two skyscrapers, kill nearly 4,000 people, and shut down air traffic across the United States for several days, and make us all paranoid and confused, but humanity deals with crazier natural catastrophes all the time. Just a year ago, it was several thousand dead in Iran. The United States has reportedly lost hundreds of citizens who happened to spend Christmas on the shores on the Indian ocean, and the locals, who are poor and don’t have the public services that we have, are faring worse still. Tens of thousands missing . . .

We waste our time with bluster about our War on Terrorism, when more of us are killed each year in car accidents and by smoking. The real ennobling effort is doing what we can to take care of all of us. Earthquake in Iran, Epidemic and Genocide in Africa, Tsunami is Asia . . . 9/11 was a taste of “normal” for America . . . a reminder that we, too, are subject to the same flavors of fate as everyone else in the world. There is plenty of sadness and tragedy for us all.

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