26 December 2012 – Phuket Island, Thailand
Phuket locals along with visiting surfers from around the world paddled out on this beautiful sunny morning at Patong Beach, Thailand to honor the victims of the devastating Boxing Day Tsunami which struck the island 8 years ago today.
On December 26, 2004 Patong Beach along with many other areas along the West coast of Phuket and Thailand were struck by a massive tsunami generated by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The wave caused a great deal of destruction along the waterfront and, in some areas, up to a kilometer or more inland. Thousands were killed in Thailand alone. Patong Beach was one of the worst affected areas of Phuket Island, although the destruction was not as bad as nearby Khao Lak. Patong, along with other effected areas in Thailand, have largely recovered since the tsunami
Around 30 surfers joined in the event put together by the Surfing Thailand organization. The surfers paddled offshore and formed a large circle by sitting on their boards and holding hands. Participants observed a moment of silence as flowers were set adrift within the circle to honor the dead.
“When I paddled out, all the memories from that day came rushing back to me. That feeling will never leave my mind,” said Decha Sitthidej, vice-president of Surfing Thailand and one of the Patong locals who were fortunate enough to survive the tsunami. “I hope we can continue to do this surf circle every year from now on,” Decha added, “This ceremony truly touched my heart.”
After completing the surfer circle the participants enjoyed a delicious lunch on the beach, promising to return again next year.
PHOTO: Iskandar Chehtae