The 26th of December marks ten years since since a tsunami caused by an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra devastated the region surrounding the Indian Ocean and beyond. Although local resorts and government officials like to pretend it never happened in order to not “frighten” potential tourists, remembering the terrible loss of life has deep meaning to many long-time local residents, including myself. It’s unfortunate (and, indeed painful to the families involved) that – in order to keep the actual death counts for Phuket low – many victims are still officially listed here as “missing”. In fact, Phuket originally wasn’t planning to mark this year’s anniversary (and spent the intended budget on the recent Asian Beach Games) but an outcry from family members intending to visit on Boxing Day seems to have taken care of that.
Yesterday was a rather rainy holiday in Phuket – the 64th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. A mid-afternoon break in the rain gave me the chance to take a short walk up the tree-lined Narisorn Road in northeastern Phuket Town. This is where most of the province’s government buildings are located and so is relatively free of development.
The most notable of these buildings is Sala Klang Changwat Phuket, or Phuket Provincial Hall in English. Construction on this beautiful building, the first in Thailand to be made of reinforced concrete, was finished one hundred years ago during the Governorship of Phraya Rasadanupradit Mahitsaraphakdi (Kaw Simbi na Ranong).