Ten years after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami devasted communities and their livelihoods all the along the Andaman coast, ecotourism is booming – and bringing the area back to life
Like so many villages on Thailand’s south-west coast, Ban Talae Nok – “faraway village of the sea” – was engulfed by the Indian Ocean tsunami which devastated the area 10 years ago this 26 December. About 20 houses were swept away and 46 people died, 16 of them children. But this Muslim community is resilient and adaptable. Their ancestors first pitched up here 100 years ago, looking for tin on the golden beaches. When that was gone, they turned to fishing.
Since the disaster, the villagers have set up an ecotourism business with Andaman Discoveries, a social enterprise born out of tsunami funding which has several projects in the area. It has created a sustainable income for the village and opened up new areas and experiences to respectful travellers, which is why I’m here. To enjoy a homestay with Bang Hem and his wife Dae, a friendly, relaxed young couple with two kids – Farit (a cute but overtired toddler who pummels me with furious little blows) and his older sister, Nadyawa.