A Message From A Happy Passenger

A Message From A Happy Passenger

Prepared by Harold Stephens,
Travel Correspondent for Thai Airways International

Among the many e-mails I receive each day, I try to answer as many as I can, especially in regard to things like the terrible tsunami and dreadful floods that played havoc in the Kingdom and that had done so much damage. Here is a letter I would like to print to show the gratitude many people have in appreciation for what the Thai people, the government and Thai Airways International did to help in this crisis.

Dear Harold Stephens,

I would like to add a few thoughts to your column Weekly Travel Update and your THAI blog (www.thailandandandbeyond.com) When we listen to the media these days we hear a lot of criticism. Why did this happen or why isn’t this being done. Few media give praise. They are more interested in sensational news, news that sells. I would like to contribute to the news that doesn’t sell.

I am a foreigner living in Thailand. I love it here and have great respect for the people and the government. Sometimes I do not understand why things are done the way they are. Why some local and national officials seem to insist on doing things so differently then the proven way I’m used to seeing them done back home. But, again, I’m the guest here and I don’t get to voice my option. 

That being said let me share an observation with you. I have been around Asia for about eight years. The last three my wife and I have lived here in Bangkok. During these years, I know that few Asian countries have the resources or the roadmap to give the kind of direction needed during a national crisis like the one we have all witnessed with the tsunami and now the recent floods,

I would dare say that Thailand has never had to respond to such a personal crisis before. But here they are doing their best to match the International organizations experienced in giving direction. And doing it well I may add. 

For a country that has never had to perform this kind of all out international search and rescue, and have such up and running within hours of understanding the need, I take my hat off to their amazing effort. 

Let me tell you a true story my wife and I experienced during the tsunami on the second day of this national disaster. We were asked to go to the airport and find a friend of a friend who had been evacuated from Phuket during the early hours of the emergency. She and her husband had been at a resort on Koa Lac beach. They had been walking the beach when the wall of water hit them both and carried them in separate directions. He is still missing. She was hurdled into the jungle and found herself wrapped around a palm tree 25 feet in the air. She was black and blue with bruises when she was found. The Thai rescuers helped her and others, who were huddling together waiting for assistance. These Thai rescuers did their job and got them to the local hospital. After being pronounced movable she was shipped off to Bangkok and put up in a hotel not far from the airport. All this was within 24 hours of the wall of water. 

When we were asked to find her all we had was a name and nationality. Our job was to go to the airport and see if we could find any record of her arrival. Not knowing how to go about this task or what to expect, we nevertheless went to the airport. All we wanted to do was help somehow.  The taxi dropped us at the departures area for the domestic terminal.

Now what? When we go inside we see a maze of moving crowds. I asked at one airline counter for information about returnees from Phuket. They did not tell me I was at the wrong location. Rather the pointed me to the correct information desk. There a Thai girl wearing a pass hung around neck asked us - "How may I help you sir”. These English words themselves are wonderful to hear. I said we were looking for information about returnees from Phuket. She then walked us thru the crowd, through VIP doors and right into the crisis center. She took us to a Thai manager who spoke English. She in turn got all the information from us we had—name and nationally. 

While we were waiting we were offered tea, coffee or something to eat. Within minutes these Thai representatives came back to us with what we needed to do. Again the young Thai woman escorted us through the mass of people and personally took us to the arrivals area to speak to the embassy desks that had been set up along side the tourist police desk and Thai immigration desk. All along the way Thai people were working at desks behind dusted off computers wired together to get some system going to trace and find the information requested by us – the foreigner. 

Everywhere we went they helped, answered and supplied what they could in order to assist us. 

We did find our friend. She has lost her husband. She is now home with her children trying to carry on with her life. And what can we say. We have nothing but praise for the hard work and diligent effort from a nation with little experience in national disasters or relief efforts on such an international scale. 

Fortunately my wife and were spared the devastating floods.

There is a lot to learn during times like these. Thailand deserves praise for a job well done. THAI was there to rescue flood victims, and to take in needed supplies. We guests speak in praise of Thailand and in particular, Thai Airways International. Well-done folks. Well done.

Rick Gillard


Harold Stephens
E-mail: ROH Weekly Travel (hstephens_1@yahoo.com)

Note: The article is the personal view of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the view of Thai Airways International Public Company Limited.