Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Tsunami: Nice to see that having dead bodies lying about doesn't stop some tourists from having a good time. "Stefan Johansson, a 41-year-old air force officer from Sweden, is hoping that tonight is the night. He is not concerned about aftershocks hitting the beach half a mile from here, or about the haphazard rescue operation finally under way in southern Thailand. Nor is he worried by the deaths of several hundred compatriots. Mr Johansson is anxious that the bar girl he has his eye on is going to keep holding out on him. "I'm having a good holiday," he said. "I went for a walk along the sand this morning, did a bit of swimming. Now I'm off drinking, and then we'll see." Mr Johansson is not alone. Four days after the tidal wave hit, normal life has returned to much of Phuket and surrounding resorts such as Patong. The "girlie" bars are reopening, the bazaars selling rip-off Rolex watches are busy, the tourists are streaming off flights and on to the beach. Here Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's request for the country to wear black and forego New Year festivities seems likely to fall on deaf ears. "I heard what was going on with the wave and so on, and I just thought it was a bit of an exaggeration," said Peter Anstiss, 48, from Sydney, as he shared a beer with his brother in a bar off Patong beach's main drag. "I didn't think too much about it." "....One new arrival at the Diamond Cliff, who flew in with her family from Moscow on Tuesday, relaxed on a lounger beside the pool. "We are here on holiday, not to be sad," she said. "I know bad things have happened, but it's nothing to do with us." With many beaches still covered in debris, and corpses still being brought in by the tide, most tourists are staying in their hotels. And though many of those in Phuket when the tidal wave struck have left, others are seeing out the rest of their holiday. "

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