Sunset over P.P. Long Beach with some longtail boats (ruea hang yao) parked for the day. This shot was taken just about a month before the 2004 Boxing Day or Indian Ocean tsunami wiped out everything on the island sadly including almost all of the beautiful people there. Phi Phi Don is a rugged limestone island with development confined to a low sandbar isthmus separating two main wings of the island and did not stand a chance. The waves up to 30 metres (100 ft) high ended up taking the lives of approximately 280,000 people across 14 countries.

The shot was taken in front of a thatch hut that we stayed in. At the time we were recovering in Thailand after a photo assignment in Nepal which required 5 weeks of trekking in the Himalayas. I stayed in the very same hut 7 years before during the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and had always wanted to return to the island. Back in 97' I had taken 3 months off to travel when I finished high school at age 17, and spent one of those months in Thailand with the rest of the time in Indonesia and Malaysia. The island of Ko Phi Phi Don is part of the Ko Phi Phi Archipelago in the Andaman Sea off the west coast of Thailand. I took this shot on Fuji Velvia Slide Film with a very simple but reliable EOS 300 film camera that was well traveled by this stage.

As a side note I was also in Japan and flew out two days before the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami wiped out much of Japan in 2011. So the time gap seems to be shrinking !


If you would like to learn a little bit more about my background in photography you can read the interview @photofeed did with me here

Robert Downie
Love Life, Love Photography

All images in this post were taken by and remain the Copyright of Robert Downie -