I have been receiving a lot of e-mails, asking me if I am okay, as the news from the worst earthquake in recent history unfolds.
I’m on the small island of Boracay, in the Philippines, far away from the affected areas, and apart from the news, there is nothing here that would indicate that such an immense catastrophe just took place. As most of you will know by now, the epicenter was off the coast of Aceh, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, which I visited a little over three weeks ago. I was planning to visit the areas in Thailand in a couple of weeks, that now have been badly hit, so naturally I will have to decide if I still go there. For now, I will stay here in the Philippines, and I’m planning on flying out to Bangkok, in Thailand, around 12 January 2005.
In some restaurants or cafes here on this tropical island, there are televisions with continuous coverage of the news by BBC World or CNN. A lot of tourists and locals are watching the horrible images in disbelief, unsuccesfully trying to comprehend the enormous scale of this natural disaster. The thought of the tens of thousands of people who have died is immensely saddening. Most of the affected areas are very poor, and it will take them years if not decades to recover, not to mention the difficulty of overcoming the grief of a lost one.