Looking at Khao Lak today it is hard to imagine the devastation and chaos, the unimaginable horror and terror that the 2004 tsunami left in its wake. Despite the flood of compasssion and the hundreds of international volunteers that poured into the area, it seemed that the disaster that brought this small area of Thailand to the world’s notice would destroy the community.
Today, if you gaze down from the hilltop walkway overlooking the Andaman Sea you can see the triumph of a resilient community that has conquered the worst that nature could throw at it.
Thailand, Khao Lak – Post-Tsunami Educational Programme for Young People
Alongside the efforts of big name relief outfits, the locals themselves showed a strength and determination to overcome the tragedy. Out of the tragedy came The Ecotourism Training Centre whose mission has been to help young locals in Khao Lak gain new job skills in environmentally based tourism and protection of the natural environment, helped in its second year by the French Red Cross.
The nine-month educational programme consists of English language instruction, computer skills and professional level scuba instruction which earns them certification as PADI divemasters and instructors. The second group of 11 divemasters and 5 new PADI instructors graduated on 21 July last. These are now guides and instructors to the new tourists who are flocking to Khao Kak.
Thailand, Khao Lak – what to do:
Khao Lak features many trails winding through the ancient rainforest where hidden waterfalls and swimming holes wait to be discovered.
Elephant trekking into the jungle is a wonderful way to see the area – especially the spectacular views out to sea which you get from high up in the hills. These elephant treks are run by an environmentally sound company dedicated to the animals’ well-being and happiness.
Guided tours of the Khao Sak National forest will reveal a fantastic array of Thai wildlife including rare birds, reptiles, mammals and plants.
Visits to Phang-Nga Bay for sea-kayaking adventures in and out of the caves that are under the huge limestone cliffs that rise sheer out of the bay. Some caves are deep in the centre of these huge karsts and can only be entered at low tide. As you paddle silently towards the inner lagoon inhabited by hornbills, sea eagles, fruit bats, and monkeys, flashlights reveal sparkling walls.
Khao Lak is also the gateway to the famous diving sites of the Similan and Surin Islands.
Thailand, Khao Lak – Where to Stay.
Private bungalows right on the beach are always available. Many are five star resorts have rebuilt and many more are coming along.
Guests can stay in floating bungalows by the lake in the Khao Sak National forest and travel to various places in the park by boat.
Thailand, Khao Lak – What the Future Holds.
Khao Lak was once considered a remote getaway, an alternative to the bustle of neighbouring Phuket, and the population would like it to remain that way. Natural beauty was always the area’s great attraction and even with the new luxury resorts springing up, the tranquillity of the area remains. Most of these resorts are tucked away, offering a private atmosphere to their visitors on the serene Andaman coast.
Diving companies are back on tract, hotels and guest houses are reporting strong bookings for the coming season, and restaurants and shops have reopened. People are flocking to Khao Lak despite the area’s recent history, and the community that was nearly destroyed, has grown back stronger than before.