Indians in Thai crusade

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  • Published 4.03.05

Krabi (Southern Thailand), March 4: A group of Indians is leading a quiet battle against nature?s fury in a picturesque province of southern Thailand, two months after the tsunami crashed ashore.

Surinder Kumar, Ivan Lopez and Krishna Narayan are among 70-80 Indians who have not only survived the tsunami in Krabi but have taken the lead in putting it on the world tourism map.

?I have seen the killer waves smash shops and destroy hopes. A lot of people may have left but we decided to hang on and fight,? says Kumar, the owner of the only exclusive Indian restaurant here.

?We have seen that most Indians scout for Indian food and culture when they travel to other tourist destinations in Thailand. So we decided to cash in and promote Krabi,? he said.

Till the other day, Krabi, 814 km from Bangkok and bordering the Andaman sea in the west, was the locale least ventured to mainly because of the proximity of Phuket (180 km from here) and Phi Phi Islands (90 km away).

Krabi?s fate changed after the tsunamis devastated Phi Phi, Phuket and the Phang NGA islands as people began scouting for other exotic locations. Krabi, full of sandy beaches and coral reefs, is now touted as Thailand?s safest place.

Kumar from Ludhiana and Lopez from Bangalore, along with their Indian friends here, have been in touch over the last month-and-a-half with tour agencies in India and other countries to promote Krabi.

?Most Indians love to feel at home when they travel abroad. No wonder, many Indians have now expressed their desire to come to Krabi,? said Anil Punjabi, chairman (eastern India), Travel Agents Federation of India.

On Thursday, Calcutta couple Payel and Aloke Ganguly arrived and went straight to Kumar?s Navrang Mahal. ?We heard about the beauty of the place and Kumar?s efforts,? said Aloke, a mechanical engineer from Ballygunge.

Even Thai nationals are appreciative of the Indians? efforts. ?With Indian restaurants opening and this unique battle of the people to bolster tourism, things have been significantly better,? said Saha Saisanan Ayudhaya, general manager, Pavilion Queens Bay hotel.

Thai Airways, too, has pitched in. ?We are offering connective flights to the people of Calcutta from Bangkok to Krabi,? said Satish Kapoor, the airline?s district sales manager.