Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Greetings from Thailand!
We’ve been in Thailand for 5 days now and took the ferry back from Koh Phi Phi this morning. I thought my first post on this blog, could not have come at a better time, or place than Thailand. One of my favorite parts about traveling is meeting new people and gaining a better understanding of the culture and challenges people face in the country I’m visiting. While in Phuket, we made friends with a taxi driver from Lopburi, located 150 km north of Bangkok. Ya Ya’s house was devastated during the recent flooding, so he moved down to Phuket to work and live with his family until his home could be repaired
During our conversation, he asked us what rate we paid at the Hilton, since his sister is a travel agent and could possibly get us a better rate. I told him our night was free because we were using Hilton points, but we would have had to pay 7,500 baht ($250) otherwise. He laughed and said, “Wow, you know how much the government is giving me for my flooded house? 5,000 baht!”
I was floored. While I can’t say I’m surprised that the government would provide such little support for citizens affected by the flood, especially after their woefully delayed response, which bordered on negligence in some cases, Ya Ya really put the disparity between our country and many others into perspective. After hurricane Katrina wiped out many parts of New Orleans, FEMA provided a very expedient response, at least compared to the Thai government in this instance. Many residents of New Orleans were given a healthy amount of support either through FEMA, the Louisiana State Government, Habitat for Humanity, and other charity organizations. Despite the current issues our country faces, and the growing support of the occupy Wall Street movement, I think our country is in comparatively good shape compared to many places in the world.