Please give 10% (and travel to Thailand)

I am still dealing with limited online access in New Orleans, but I wanted to post a quick couple of items:

1) First off, in light of the enormous scope of the south Asian tsunami, I’d like to encourage everyone who reads my blog to donate 10% of their December earnings to tsunami relief efforts (a list of aid agencies can be found here; if you’re not sure who to give to, the Red Cross is always a good bet). Ten percent of one month’s wages is a modest amount, and it can make a difference for people in countries who — while comparatively poor — have been so kind and curious and hospitable to us vagabonders over the years.

So this means you: Take ten minutes and make an online tithe to an aid agency that is on the ground in the disaster area. It can make a difference.

2) To everyone who’s written me asking if they should still travel to Thailand in coming months, my answer is a resounding yes. And I say “yes” for several reasons, the first being that most of the country, such as Bangkok, the north, Isaan, and the Gulf of Siam coast, is unaffected by the disaster. Secondly, Thailand is still a good staging area for the rest of Southeast Asia, such as Cambodia and Laos. Thirdly, I have many reports that even Phuket is 95% intact (most of the damage being on the coast), and locals are already encouraging tourists to return. Fourth, you may well be able to turn your Thailand trip into a private charity mission, bringing money or supplies directly to the people who need it. Marc Gold, for example, has already made a lifestyle of this type of travel, and his website can be a good example of how private giving can be implemented by travelers. (As you travel, just take care to identify true victims, and avoid the local cons who invariably surface to profit from such disasters.)

My last reason for why you shouldn’t cancel your Thailand travel plans is somewhat counterintuitive at a time like this — and this reason is that travel to Thailand is fun and amazing and life-changing. Despite the sorrow of the current situation, one very tangible thing you can do is travel there, spend money in the local economy, and have a good time. This will help support all the people (not only in Phuket, but in Bangkok and Chiang Mai and Koh Samui and points in-between) who make their living from travelers, and might suffer as travelers are scared off because of the disaster. So keep those plane tickets and go to Thailand!

3) On a final item, I encourage those of you who are in Thailand, particularly the Andaman coast (and, if possible, Ranong, from where I still hope to receive more news) to post here with reports of the human and travel situation in the area.

Posted by | Comments (7)  | January 4, 2005
Category: Rolf's News and Updates, Vagabonding Advice


7 Responses to “Please give 10% (and travel to Thailand)”

  1. Rolf Says:

    Here’s a press release from the International Ecotourism Society, which reiterates the importance of post-tsunami travel in south and southeast Asia:

    Washington, DC — The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) sends deepest condolences to its many members in the areas devastated by the Indonesian earthquake and Indian Ocean tsumanis and calls on tourists and tourism businesses around the world to support the relief efforts TIES, the oldest and largest organization dedicated to socially and environmentally responsible travel, joins calls for the international community to generously and swiftly respond to what is described as possibly the worst humanitarian crisis ever.

  2. Rolf Says:
  3. justin Says:

    I think it’s amazing that Amazon has collected over $14 million.

  4. AJ Hoge Says:

    I visited Ranong on the 27th of December… and also “Andaman Koh Chang”. While there was some damage, both Ranong (the area immediately around the town at least) and the islands (Koh Chang and Koh Payam) seemed to escape the worst of the tsunami…

    I asked several folks (Thai and tourist) and all reported that damage was nothing like further south. I did not notice any damage at the pier when I boarded a boat to Koh Chang.

    On Koh Chang, there was some flooding of buildings right on the beach, but I was told by the Thai workers at our resort that no one died on the island.

    Hope this brings you a little bit of good news (though my information is quite limited).

    –AJ Hoge

  5. Rolf Says:

    AJ, that is great information to have — thank you!

  6. Dave Cullen Says:

    Rolf,

    Thanks SO much for the idea of travelling there. Can’t believe I didn’t think of it, can’t believe I haven’t heard it promoted more in the news coverage.

    (Lots of areas aren’t ready for tourists yet, but lots of people are planning summer vacations now. It’s the perfect time to get people interested in the idea of getting over there.)

    I just posted a long piece on my blog, linking to your post, and to Lonely Planet, etc.

    By the way, Lonely Planet has a Responsible Travel to Tsunami-Affected Regions page up, with advice on deciding when it’s OK to travel, with links to the various countries’ tourism boards to let you know when it’s OK and when it’s not:

    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/tsunami/responsible_travel.htm

    Still looking forward to meeting you one of these days. Let me know if you get to Denver or Chicago. I’m living 50/50 at the moment.