Kampungkayell

Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"

A friend's firsthand account of her time on Boxing Day on a beach in Sri Lanka

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

The account below is from someone we know. She's a lovely person and while we have not had the opportunity to spend more time with her, she is a friend. She went to school with some of my cousins. This is her story.

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Hi everyone,

First of all let me wish you a very Happy New Year, and also wishing that none of you and your future generations ever have to experience what I did in Sri Lanka on the morning of Boxing Day 2004. Here is a full account :

Woke up about 8am that morning to head the Morning call to the loo. Stepped back into bed later and heard this crow, crowing away very loudly rite outside the window. I thought that was a bad omen as mum has mentioned before, so still in bed I thought to myself...Hmm.. Flight has been confirmed, passport with me, everything's ok, just need to pack as I was leaving for Colombo that nite to catch the 7am flight the next day. I got up, shoooed the bird away & continued reading "In the mind of Serial Killers" and then heard this woman screaming outside followed by a loud crash of the waves... That went on 3 times before I was actually curious to know what was going on. Opened the door and the water was at eye level. My Cabana/Chalet is on stilts and about 3 meters from the beach separated by a 3 foot wall. The water was above this wall spilling fast onto the surrounding area of my place. I shouted at my friend to grab the backpack with the passports as I thought the full moon had made the ocean wild and to lets get out of there and she said "calm down Pris, its just high tide". Within seconds water was coming in and as she was trying to get the bag and I was for some reason looking into the cupboard trying to see what I should take. Suddenly the cupboard split into half and so did the bed and the whole Chalet started vibrating and water was inside all over. The wooden floor started to pop up one by one and I grabbed my boots, till today I don't know why coz I lost them within the next few seconds. I opened the front door again and the verandah that we had been being bums on for the last week was not there anymore. Instead the ocean moved in closer and was rite in front of us. We couldn't get out and I told my mate, I cant swim, I'm gonna drown and she said jump, and I said but I cant swim and she said just f%$#$%@! jump! And so I did, with her having a strong grip on my collar. As I jumped I looked up and the wave was about 7 feet high. We lost contact almost immediately after I jumped cause according to her, the front wall collapsed on me while she was swept away.


I was underwater and I couldn't come up for air coz the cupboard, the bed and roof of the chalet was rite above me. I was trying to move the debris over my head desperately and I could feel at the same time my lungs were about to burst.. Finally I had to take a breath...of water, I did, and I was still trying to remove the debris. The water was like 7 feet high. After breathing in water like 4 times, I heard this voice that said "Don't fight it Pris, 10 seconds tops, and it'll all over". So I stopped wrestling underwater and started to sink down while still breathing in water. At this point, few things flashed past me and it certainly wasn't life like what everybody says ..."Oh, This is how it happens in CSI"... ok, and then, "... my mate will take my body home and my parents will deal with it bravely.." I could see my palms open wide, then the feeling of the fear of dying hit me and then the knowledge that I am gonna die enveloped me and towards the end I felt very calm...all this in like 10 seconds. My eyes was closed because suddenly I opened them and thought to myself, "but this is not how I am supposed to die". I have always believed that terrorism will catch up with me sometime during my travels especially after I missed the Bali bombing. Rite then a huge and heavy wave landed next to me forcing me and everything around me to be thrown up. Suddenly I was trying to stay afloat and my legs couldn't feel the ground. Turned around and saw this 10-12ft wave charging, all I could do was wait for it to hit me and when it did I was slammed against a coconut tree. I wrapped my legs and arms around it and looked at the ocean and there was another wave coming...even higher. That wave ripped me off the tree and dunked and dragged me underneath again.. When I surfaced next, I had just grazed another coconut tree with my finger tips. I remember saying 'Nooo.." and then I saw this nylon rope that locals use to tie to trees to dry their laundry. I grabbed it and hung onto it while my body was still in a superman position. Tried to stand and could not feel the ground so went down and kicked the ground to come up and there comes another bigger wave. At this point I was pleading with God "...no more.." and just as soon as it all happened, it ended. The suction of the water back to the ocean actually forced me to stand up and very quickly I fell to my knees, gasping, panting and frantically tying the rope around me so that I don't get sucked out...I was standing at the tip of a railway track. My mate was near the caretakers house and she lost her bottom half of her PJ's.

Noticed then, that I was topless, shorts and underwear, were down to my ankles, and the destruction was total carnage. Unreal!!! Locals were clinging onto each other, parts of buildings and trees. Horns were blaring and car lites were blinking, women were screaming, men were yelling and running trying to get the tourists out. The ocean dried up almost immediately. I saw corals and reef that I never saw in the last week and then like a snake, water started to trickle in back, looking up, you can see the ocean filling up and the waves generating again....and then all hell breaks loose, everybody is scrambling for higher ground. The locals were excellent, their main concern was getting the tourist out of there. My mate and I were determined to find that backpack that contained our passports, plain tickets, wallet with various currency in it. After wading in shit water (for real), knee deep salt water and not knowing whats at the bottom, stepping on possibly live wires, concrete walls, glass pieces, chunks of wood and more concrete, we tried and tried to look for our bag for 4 hours. By this time everybody knew that 2 very shocked Malaysian women, were desperately looking for this infamous black backpack. And suddenly out of nowhere, comes along this local..."Excuse me, Madame, is this your bag..?" I was like, no way, you found it!!!. It was washed into another village bout 2-3 kms away, still padlocked and everything intact. It was the day of miracles and everything that could go right, went right for us. We're still trying to come to terms why it didn't for about 150,000 other ppl. I had cuts and bruises on my head stomach, leg, feet, arm, back and all my stud earrings were ripped off my ears but ears were intact, my rings all gone. I lost everything cept for my passport, wallet, plane tix and believ it not, I found my Ray-Bans... unscratched and intact under some
concrete rubble. I came home in borrowed clothes and an ugly pair of slippers..I still have it as remembrance.

So, that's what happened, I still hear and see the ocean, the 7 roaring waves that whacked the shit out of me and am starting to accept it slowly. My family and friends have been remarkable, constantly being there for me and I havent really had time by myself cept when I am hvaing a shower or driving. My HR in the office have just offered me counselling services. For
me, I think I just need to head to the ocean soonest and to face it again. I did that when I was still in Sri Lanka right after the incident and I refused to be afraid of the ocean as I love the beach too much. Cant let me retirement plans go haywire now can I..

Have a splendid 2005 folks.... Luv ya

2 Comments

She is so. Damned. Lucky.

But then, so was my friend who was there at the same time. In fact, she didn't even realize there'd been a major disaster til a friend back home sms'd her to ask if she was alright.

God. Is. Great.

Actually she was interviewed on radio and also in the papers. She's Priscilla Patrick, the producer who also does the traffic reports et al on the Astro radio stations.

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