Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tsunami In Penang (26th Dec 2004)

The Beach I used to jog in my younger day

Chooi Im in Tanjong Bungah, Penang
( "Chooi im " in hokkien dialect means flooded

On this day, my family would be enjoying snorkeling in one of the beaches in Krabi, Thailand. We normally go there for in Malaysia it is a long stretch of holiday. Well, we did not take this trip for one of my niece will be getting marriage on 31st of December 2004 and we decided to change our trip to Kuala Lumpur. Anyway, we still have our holiday today for it is Sunday and one day after Christmas
My younger son and us decided to go to Town after our breakfast and as we reached Fettes Park, mid way to town we decide to drop by a stall that sell pork roll ( Lok bak). Half way eating this delicious food, we heard ambulance with the siren on passing through. Oh, that must be another accident again. All of a sudden, another passed again, and thinking to myself, that accident must be bad!. After finishing our food, we went to a shopping complex, One Stop, in Pulau Tikus. As we were entering the complex, my cousin called and asked me to help them to clean her house which was beside the beach. I told her not a problem but by that urgent. She told me over the phone that the sea water has reached the main road of Tanjong Bungah. ( Koh Koh, High Chooi Im Cow Law Liao) I got a shock and asked her to repeat what she has spoken and the same words were heard over my Siemen ME45 ,mobile phone clearly.

Turning to my wife and son, I told them of the incident and we decided to go straight to my cousin house. On the way there, I told my son that we should change into our swim trunk since the house was flooded. My wife asked me whether the sea water has reached that high during my younger day and I answer her NO, never happen before. Well, during my younger day, my dad,mum and all of us have stayed beside my cousin house before we shifted over to my present house which was on higher ground.

We parked our car at the new , Maybank Office, just diagonally across the road and walked over to her house. Upon reaching her house, I asked her where was the water? She asked me to trust her and took me to the sea front and look at the beach. Wah! no water and surprising no mud at all on the sea bed and strange I could see that the sea water has retreated to abnormal far distance and this has never happen before in my life along this beach. She pulled me by my hand and we went straight into her house. Mud every where and hopping through to avoid my feet getting soil we reached the front door of her house. She pointed to me the mark that was left over by the sea water and true enough the sea water has reached a height of approximately 2.1 meter., the top of the door jam.

Suddenly, I heard a cried that we have to get out of the house for the sea water has returned. I quickly left the house and headed straight to the sea front. Standing beside my wife and son, I saw for the first time of my life the water was returning from horizon very fast.(I found out that water was traveling at the speed of 160km/hour the following day on the Local Newspaper). This was the (2nd) Aftershock. I turned around and pulled my wife and son and headed for the road which was on higher ground. Upon reaching the road I turned around and saw that the sea water has hit the low wallreached an approximately height of 1 meter as indicated by the height of the low wall. The reason why this house was still standing there was due to the perimeter constructed low wall. It could have been gone.
All of us stood there and was amazed by the sea water for within a few minutes it started to retreat back to the sea. My son who was standing beside me mentioned a simple statement: Daddy why are you afraid of the sea water? You are wearing the swimming trunk for what.
I did not answer my son but this has never happen before in this place where I was born, Tanjong Bungah, Penang.
All of a sudden, everybody was concentrating on a new issue that was an old lady who was leaving next door was still in the house and not coming out. I asked my wife whether she was there to collect her jewelry or money. and she uttered she was not sure. I quickly went into the house and immediately ask on the guy of this house to turn the main power for it could be dangerous as all the electrical appliances were flooded. due to the speed of the water retreating, everybody was able to get the old lady out of the house and asked her to lock the door as an assurance for her that nobody can go inside and steal her thing!

My mind rushed through the discussion of my colleague, Ooi Say Chin, with his friend of going out into the sea for fishing today. I picked up my phone and called him. He answered my call and asked why and I told him of the sea water flooding along the coast of Tanjong Bungah to Gurney drive. He told me that he was already back home sleeping at this moment. Very Very glad to hear this. He told me a few day later that the captain of their boat was very uncomfortable with the sea condition and decided to head back for home early that day.
After helping to clean up the house, we left and during the walk back to our car we could still hear the public announcement coming from the public services patrol asking everybody to leave the sea front and be on higher ground for there will be an aftershock again. After our dinner, my wife and I decided to drive up to Batu Ferringhi and checked for more news. All along the sea front, there were ambulance, and army personnel ensuring that the public were given help. Sad to say there were those searching for dead corpse with their torchlight. No to forget, my Eldest brother called me on my mobile to check that all of us including his in law were okay in Penang.
He has just landed in Taipei after their trip to Phuket,Thailand. As usual worry for the family in Penang.

Thailand (Krabi)

Went to Krabi for a short holiday with my relative and asking people around there, I found that
Tsunami hit hard at certain beautiful places. Upon looking carefully around, I found that they have put up signages showing the way to run in case the Tsunami Siren goes off.
Go this way, Tsunami Signages, 24th December 2006

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