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Phi Phi Island tsunami relief fund
12:05:27 AM
As many are aware, the Ton Sai / Railay climbing area, though the most popular climbing area in Thailand these days, isn't the only climbing area there.

My understanding is that Phi Phi Island is the place where climbing in Thailand kicked off years ago. Phi Phi copped the full-force of the tsunami and the place has been absolutely devastated. Estimates of the number killed range from over 650 to over 1450.

Anyone still interested in donating to one of the relief funds might be interested to know about a small charity organisation (Chance 4 All Foundation) which has set up a fund whereby donations can be made directly and specifically for the "support of the Phi Phi people". More info on their web site

How bad is the damage to Phi Phi Island? Well, if you want to see pictures then I should warn you that these galleries, particularly on the Getty Images site, contains extremely graphic images:
Getty Images

The Railay web site remains a very valuable resource for anyone wanting to know what's going on over there (at Railay and elsewhere).
12:17:35 AM
I find it strange that that post was seemingly about to pass by without comment. Is it just that everyone is too shocked? Maybe I should have posted it in the other Tsunami thread but thought this deserved attention on its own.

BTW, I agree entirely with the idea of visiting the Tonsai/Railay area as way of helping the local economies, etc, for those who are inclined and can do that. I also heard that there might be a fund set up for families of the local long-boat captains who were killed in the Tonsai/Aonang area. If that happens then details will most probably be posted on

Unfortunately I don’t think it is possible to visit Phi Phi Island (even if no longer under quarantine) and probably won't be possible for quite some time. So helping out this part of the Thai climbing community isn’t possible in that same way.

Here’s some more news from Phi Phi Island below. Some of you might have heard of Cathy Beloeil – a French-born woman who lived in the USA for some years and made quite name for herself as a top climbing photographer there. (Respect!). Well, in more recent years she has lived on Phi Phi Island where she’s run a climbing school (I met her there briefly a few years back). I came across this open email from her (on German web site of all places) and have pasted it below because I thought some of you might be interested… I don’t know how many days after the tsunami she wrote this.
12:18:45 AM
Cathy's email:

Dear everyone

Things here are really frustrating. The news are not describing accuratly what's going on here. Especially not what happened on PP.

Some of you have been to Phi Phi. I know you have loved it and loved it's people too. What I am going to tell you is going to brake your heart and it's breaking mine every minute of every day.

On December 26th, a huge wave coming from Lodalum bay, the North of the island hit the beach with such force that it went completely over the whole sandbar destroying everything in it wake. Some people were able to run inland but all the one who could make it to the Thai muslin village were hit by an other wave coming from the South side. The South wave was not as big but it's strength destroyed all the longtails on Tonsai bay and most of the houses and shop on the main street, killing hundreds of people. The Thai village was completely obliterated. The whole sandbar found itself sandwished between too tidal waves and chances of escaping the waves were very slim.

The only people who survived were the ones who started running at the fist warnings and only those who made the right turns...

Then a few minutes later an other wave hit Phi Phi and killed all the people who survived the first wave but were still cought in the low land, often seriously injured and unable to move.

The survivors had fled to the hills but according to witnesses there was no more than 2000 of them. This was during the very high season and we estimate the number of people on the island at this time at about 7000 people. You do the math.

Now Phi Phi is a very desolate place, it blows my mind when I go there. It looks like it has been hit by an atomic bomb. There is no chance that it will ever be what it was. It will take at least a year I think until they can finish cleaning and rebuilding. I don't beleive that tourists will start coming back until the year 2006.

The problems here are enormous and there is very little being done by the government. And it is not because they don't have the money to do it. Unfortunatly, Phi Phi is part of Krabi province and most people think it part of Phuket. There has been a lot of help sent to Phuket and none here. There are about 2000 local people here, they have lost everything and don't even know if they will ever be able to go back to Phi Phi to resume their lives...

With a few friends from Phi Phi, Farangs and Thai, we are trying to put the money we can collect to good use. We are trying to do what the government can't seem to be able to do... Of course our resources are very limited but we have received quite a few donations from people who trust us.

I am not sure what you can do or what Patagonia can do but if you could send this letter and this website address to as many people as possible and get the word around, it would be a step forward. I am putting myself 100% at the service of this cause as well as a few friends. We are not getting any income from this and we are running our association with our own, very slim, savings....

I need to get a contact at the news, which ever one. If you know of anyone let them know what's going on here and give them my contact #.

Hope to hear from you soon.


Siehe auch:

12:24:59 AM
Thank you for the heads up guys.
It is super frustrating how biased mass media reports actually are, as you're finding out here.

Please continue to keep us informed of what's happening there, and how the fund/aid effort is going.

7:04:49 PM
i met a guy here (tonsai) last night that had visited there recently and he said that the wave hit from both sides and smashed in the middle destroying everything. nothign much left standing.. Another guy i spoke to (shamick - rebolter) wentto phiphi recently to check it out and climbed too apparently. he reckons it will be good to go back there and climb soon once the survivors get their lives back in order. apparently it has been rebolted recently too.

1:29:34 AM
Does it sound like it's possible to go to Koh Phi Phi at the moment?

Guys on location - what's the latest?

11:23:40 AM
I've made many trips to Thailand, and have climbed at Railay, but unlike most I prefer to spend my time on Phi Phi, where I have many friends both in and outside the climbing community.

Phi Phi has been devastated by the tsunami, people I knew have been lost, including a friend's three year old daughter, and many friends have lost their livelihood. So I have some personal insight into the tragedy.

The charity mentioned by Simon is doing great work and is well worthwhile donating money to. Their overheads (the amount of money lost in administration) is much lower than that of larger charitable organisations, and working at a grass roots level they can respond much quicker and provide help that is specifically requested by those in need.

The post following this one was originally circulated by me on the Yahoo Rhum Dhu news group for Sydney climbers. As you'll see it details the plight of a Thai climber who has suffered because of the disaster of 26 Dec.

I'm putting this up in the hope that some of you will be moved to help. If you think of yourself in Soley's place, devastating for a fit and active person, I'm sure you would appreciate a bit of help from others.

Simon also referred to Cathy Beloiel (better known as "Cat"), whom I know well. She and Shamick Byszewski, a guy well known I'm sure to regular Railay visitors, have done fantastic work to help Soley and other Phi Phi survivors.

Please read the following post and if you can spare a little money for those in need, it would be appreciated.

BTW, currently the village area of Phi Phi is being cleared of wreckage and a time period for rebuilding is not yet clear. For one thing, much of the previous development there was ad-hoc, unauthorised and inappropriate, and the Thai environmental authority are keen to prevent, limit or at least tightly control any redevelopment.

Although it is probably possible to make a day trip for climbing, I don't think it's possible, and would probably be unpleasant, to have an extended stay.

11:25:40 AM
Rhum Dhu Members

This is a long post, therefore I'll summarise first so that any who are not interested can ignore it. The background to the post is that in the last twenty years I have travelled widely in Thailand, in recent times mainly for climbing, have come to know and love the Thai people, and have many friends there.

[Summary: One of my Thai climbing friends was badly injured in the tsunami disaster. His health care in the Thai private system has been expensive. I and a few others have been supporting him. I'm now asking for help from climbers like yourselves.]

The full version...

As climbers, I'm taking the liberty of telling you about this situation. I thought that relating the story of one individual would help people's understanding of the human impact of the recent tsunami in Asia.

I also hope that some of you might be moved to help this person, a friend of mine, especially those who have climbed in Thailand and have known the hospitality of the Thai people. Obviously many or all of you will have contributed in various ways to the large charities, but to spare a little bit more will really help this particular climber recover his health and livelihood.

Soley Onbut was one of the original Thai climbers in the early 90's at the Railay area near Krabi. In 2000 he moved to Phi Phi Island and helped to redevelop climbing there, which is when I met him. Popular and well-known for his ready smile and gentle, friendly nature, Soley is one of the most pleasant, genuine people I have ever met. He is also a climber of great strength and technique, skilful at Thai boxing, and a masterful exponent of fire-spinning.

Soley was badly injured in the tsunami. His pelvis and hip were crushed, and only his strength and tenacity enabled him to survive the wave. You can read the full story of his ordeal and subsequent treatment at (start from the bottom and work up).

As is common in Thai society, Soley's work supported not only himself, but a large extended family. Thus he did not have a great amount of savings. To cut a long story short, Soley's treatment has been very expensive. He has required two major operations, there have been complications, and he now requires one month of bed rest in a hospital to ensure that his pelvis sets.

A few of us, his Western friends, have paid the bills so far, and will continue to do so. At last count the total expenditure was $US6,200. The hospital alone costs $US120 per day.

Special mention must go to Shamick Byszewski, a Polish/Canadian ex-pat who has resided in Railay for many years. Shamick has been helping and organising things full time for Soley since the disaster.

If the treatment and rehabilitation is not followed through, Soley may not walk properly again, let alone climb and do the other things he used to enjoy. This treatment is something we take for granted here in Australia, but is not freely available in Thailand.

For some of you who have climbed in Thailand and may recognise him, I have put a picture of Soley on Rhum Dhu at The photo was taken in hospital after his first operation. The cage-like contraption you can see was affixed to the bones in order to keep them in alignment.

That's it folks. I'm asking you, if you are moved by Soley's situation and would like to help, whether you could spare a few dollars. If you can, let me know and I'll give you details for sending the money. We are trying to organise a Paypal account, as international bank transfers are relatively expensive - my financial institution charges $26 even for small amounts.

Soley has become very depressed in recent days. If anyone knows him and wants to know how to contact him, let me know. I'm sure any words of encouragement, even from caring strangers, would give him comfort.

I have weighed up whether it was appropriate to post this, but in the end decided to wear any criticism for the chance of helping out my friend. So, if you think along the lines of "why should I help this guy as opposed to all the other people", well, forgive me, I understand and I'm sorry for wasting your time.

Niall Doherty

12:44:58 AM
>I have weighed up whether it was appropriate to post this, but in the
>end decided to wear any criticism for the chance of helping out my friend.
>So, if you think along the lines of "why should I help this guy as opposed
>to all the other people", well, forgive me, I understand and I'm sorry
>for wasting your time.

No mate, you've made a good call in posting this. It's a fair question everyone must ask ("why should I help this guy as opposed to all the other people").
One thing I've mentioned to Simon is that you have to figure out what you're called to do, where your heart leads you. You tend to be pretty ineffective if you try and spread all your energy and resources amongst every single worthwhile cause you come across.

There are many good caues and hurting people in the world. Rightly or wrongly, we tend to feel most drawn to help people and things that are close to our hearts - in this case, a climbing destination, a beautiful island, a dear friend. Personally I think this is right. Maybe the only improvement on this notion is to have more things close to your heart... But that's for each of us to figure.

By the sounds of Soley, hey's a fighter. Perhaps by getting him back on deck, he'll be able to do even more for the cause. Just food for thought.

9:50:11 AM
On 3/02/2005 cheesehead wrote:
>By the sounds of Soley, hey's a fighter. Perhaps by getting him back on
>deck, he'll be able to do even more for the cause. Just food for thought.

Thanks for your thoughts cheesehead. You've expressed my philisophy on these things. And yes, by helping Soley get back on his feet (literally in this case) he in turn can resume being productive, and he will then be able to go on supporting his extended family.

I've had a pretty good response to this from Rhum Dhu, to the tune of $500 or so. It all helps.
2:11:00 PM
Hi Niall,
I met Soley on my recent trip to Thailand and in the short time i knew him realised he was one of the sweetest, gentle and pleasent people i have ever met.
I was devastrated when i heard the news of the Tsunami and heartbroken thinking of Soley and many others on Phi Phi Island. I searched for weeks to try and find some news on Soley when i finally came across a website set up by one of his friends Shamick. I was so relived to hear he had survived but saddened to know what he went through.
I would love to contact him but only have his email adress ( which i dont know whether he has access to) If you have an address or any other contact for him that would be great.
I am sadly not able to help financially at the moment but if i can help in any other way with fundraising or anything please let me know

Look forward to hearing from you

4:39:00 PM
Hi Hayley

Sorry, have been busy and not visited the forum for a week. Shamick is monitoring Soley's e-mail for him, so the address you have should be ok. You can also write to him via Shamick's e-mail <>, I think Shamick prints them off for Soley.

Shamick is very busy so is sometimes slow to reply, but he does read the e-mails.

Shamick's mobile number is at the bottom of his web page
you can SMS him, perhaps ask him to SMS you back when he is with Soley, and you could then ring up for a chat.

BTW I ended up collecting $1520 from the Rhum Dhu climbers group in Sydney.

If you need any other info drop me a line, to get me directly click on my name link to see my e-mail address.


3:59:50 PM
I tried to make a donation on and it wouldn't work. Does anyone know a way to get donations through?

Also, does anyone know if there is useful volunteer work we can do there at the moment?

4:53:10 PM
Not sure what's happening with phiphi-releve-toi. This charity is based in Krabi town and is doing good work over there. Another, Australian based, outfit is The advantage of the latter is that donations will be tax deductible. Both are concentrating on the island of Phi Phi, and the two are co-ordinating efforts so that aid is not duplicated.

Also, check the web site for updates on Soley Onbut's recovery. He recently took his first steps unaided and is well on the way to recovery. This is due to the generosity of people who have given of their money, time and effort to help. Charity does work!

I'm sure that if you turned up the the Hi Phi Phi organisation at Krabi you would be able to help out. Skills such as building and logistics are always in demand. Why not drop them a line and see?

Best wishes and thanks for thinking of those in need.


4:27:23 PM
I've been in touch with Shamick at Railay and Sophie Clay on Phi Phi and there's plenty to do for anyone wanting to volunteer some time in between climbing etc. I'm planning to head over in May/June.

Niall's post above has contact details.
5:42:59 PM
Rock and Ice Magazine has come up with the goods yet again. In issue 141 (April 2005) they have a news report from Sam Lightner Jr. Among other things he says:

"Michelle Garbet (michelle 'at' and I (lightner 'at' have put together a localised relief effort for individuals and small businesses that were damaged or destroyed. Please contact us if you wish to help pay hospital bills (such as for Soley Ombut), help restore businesses and give aid to survivors. Our relief efforts will be climbing-community specific.”

There are 16 messages in this topic.


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