Some may disagree with me & think it’s morbid however I think there are beautiful & interesting Tsunami Memorials to discover in Khao Lak. I believe it helps you to understand part of the horrendous recent history the area has had to deal with and they are also sympathetically done. The memorials not only serve as a place to remember lost loved ones, but some are beautiful places to spend some time. Khao Lak was one of the worst areas affected in Thailand by the 2004 natural disaster and it is only right that the devastation is remembered.
We visited three such places as part of a few days out on our motorbike which we hired. Some are touching and others are fascinating due to the location.
Baan Nam Kem Tsunami Memorial Park
This tiny village once hosted a variety of hotels, the tourists who visited flooded the area with life and let the local economy thrive. However over 1400, yes 1400 people lost their life here during the tsunami of 2004. The park consists of five areas; Resting Area, Health Area, Playground Area and Tsunami Memorial Area, which is the highlight of this park. A curved wall representing the wave has been built out of clay, decorated with ceramic tiles, the names of the dead carved into the side.
It may sound morbid but it is far from it, the memorial park is thought provoking, peaceful and the surrounding park and beach is stunning. Pure white sand overlooking a clear blue sea, the picture of calmness when we visited. Far from the horror people would have experienced that day. A huge golden Buddha stands at one end watching over the park, worshipped by the fishermen before and after ever voyage.
There are still a few restaurants and stalls around the park selling food, drink and souvenirs. The park is well signposted and there is plenty of parking, well worth a visit and a spot of lunch on the beach.
Police Boat 813
A very famous sights in Khao Lak is the police boat which was anchored one nautical mile from shore. During Christmas 2004 members of the Royal family were at a hotel in the area. Now the boat is displayed over two km inland in the centre of Khao Lak; where it was washed and deposited by the tsunami. It has been left where it landed and kept as a memorial. There is no admission charge at the moment, although the boat is kept behind a low wall. A museum is at the site too if you would like further information. We didn’t go in to (it was lunch time, I was getting hangry) but it has great reviews.
Naval Base Tsunami Memorial
The final tsunami memorial to discover in Khao Lak is further south on the Naval Base. This was quite exciting to go and see as you literally go on to the Thai Royal Navy Base! If you are doing this solo then you will need to have some form of ID with you. Luckily I saw a review on TripAdvisor before we went or it would have been a wasted journey! No ID, no enter!
Anyway, I digress!
Near Tap Lamu harbour is a huge naval base where there is a turtle conservation centre and another boat which was washed ashore. This is now a memorial to all of the naval base staff and their families who lost their lives.
It is right outside the entrance to the turtle sanctuary so you can visit both.
This is not the complete list of memorials that you can discover in the area. We passed signs for several on our motorbike travels, keep your eye out! These are the most well known and are definitely worth a visit.
Other things to do whilst in Khao Lak are:
Thailand was not the only country to be affected by the tsunami. When we visited Sri Lanka we saw the remains of a cafe on the beach & another touching memorial. Read about Yala National Park here.