I am incredibly saddened by the unspeakable devastation being faced today in Southeast Asia. My wife and I visited Sri Lanka last year, and we were struck by the resilience of the population—they had enjoyed their first year of peace after a 20-year civil war when we arrived. Tourists were just beginning to trickle back to the country, and the supporting infrastructure was just starting to be built (or re-built). This tragedy that occurred yesterday is a heartbreaking setback for a country that was just beginning to turn a corner towards a better life for its people.
I was especially annoyed by our local ABC affiliate’s decision last night to lead it’s local news with a story about the possibility of New York receiving 3 inches of snow. Then, "in other news…" they mentioned the 20something thousand people who died. 3 inches of snow trumps the deaths of 20,000 people. Well, I think it trumps the deaths of 20,000 brown people. White people would probably lead the news.
Anyway, for those who have travel plans to the region, keep in mind that not every area was affected equally. As this article notes, there is no reason to cancel trips to Bangkok or to beaches on the east coast of Thailand such at Pattaya or Ko Samui—these areas are unaffected. In fact, you may have these places all to yourself.
You can make donations to the relief effort at Redcross.org.