Tag Archives: Sumatra

Tsunami or not Tsunami, that is the question….

11 Apr

Just when you think you’re safe in your luxury villa with your swimming pool and your two wooden statues of cross-legged soldiers who don’t even look Indonesian, and your croaking geckos and your plans to go to the Gilis…

There has been another earthquake, which has shaken Sumatra and consequently lots of people I know.

This is not something to be taken lightly. As we all know, “Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines that makes the vast island nation prone to volcanic and seismic activity. A giant 9.1-magnitude quake off the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people in 13 Indian Ocean countries, including Thailand, Sri Lanka and India.” (The news)

We’re in Pemuteran, north of Bali, which is considerably less at risk than say, Kuta down south, which faces the Indian Ocean. Everything is normal here, like it was last October when the earth shook off the coast of Aceh; like it was  back in 2004 no doubt, before anyone saw it coming.

Just as you sigh that little sigh of relief that everything’s OK in your direct vicinity, you can’t help but swallow that sickening feeling that one day it’s gonna be you that’s swallowed whole in a ginormous wave that just appeared from nowhere. You’re probably going to be doing something like you’re doing now, when it strikes. Like, looking at a nice photo your mate has put on her blog of BEAUTIFUL, safe Bali, such as this. I took this three days ago on a hill in Munduk in the mountains, which would have been safer than where we are now, by the sea:

You might be laughing, or eating a sausage, or petting your dog or procrastinating about doing your laundry and scrubbing that sinful chocolate stain off your duvet which CLEARLY advertises the fact that you eat between the sheets, when it happens. You might be reading the live Twitter feed about tsunami warnings, thinking, fuck, I hope that never happens to me. Surely it won’t though, right? Things like that don’t happen to ME.

But you’ll be wrong, because you’ll already be slammed against the wall like a pancake tossed a little too hard by a child who has zero experience holding a frying pan, because sometimes things like that DO happen to you.

The Indonesian government has been known to play down the risk we’re at, here on the Island of the Gods. If they told us the truth, people might not come. We might not stay in all these lovely, posh villas. Scaremongering is pointless and no one wants to do that, but we are very much AT RISK from tsunamis and earthquakes in Bali… something I looked into for the upcoming Bali book. Not that I’m plugging it at a time like this, but it’s true. I did some research BECAUSE it’s a scary fact when you live here that you’re probably gonna have to deal with at least something like this, at some point. Anyway.

My friend who’s holidaying in Phuket has just been evacuated to a safe place on a hill. She says the airport is shut. My friend in Singapore felt her building shake. My ex is in Jakarta, where he felt nothing but the urgent desire to leave again, as soon as possible. It seems that no one can deny the wave of fear surging through them, even if the waters stay still.

Bali has been declared safe for now, and I’m glad to say all my friends in other places seem to be safe too, if a little scared. But it’s not very nice to think about what could happen. BE SAFE YA’LL!

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