12 March 2011

No Tsunami in Vietnam

As I walked back from a late, fish lunch two days ago, I received a frantic text message from a Vietnamese friend in Ho Chi Minh City. She told me of the Japan earthquake and tsunami. Since I am at the beach, she urged me to run for the hills as fast as I could.

A little freaked, I got to my room and turned on the CNN and BBC. Tsunami warnings had been issued for the entire Pacific Basin, but I didn’t see Vietnam on either the maps they were showing or on the countries listed. I flipped to the Vietnamese channels where no broadcasts were being interrupted with tidal wave warnings. I text-ed my friend with this news. She wrote back to say that Vietnam had no tsunami warning system and I needed to get away from the water.

Still a bit nervous, I went to the lobby area and spoke to the owner. He more or less laughed at me. There was no problem in Mui Ne and never is a problem here. Apparently, because of the geography of the area, it is where ships are told to come when there is any sort of storm at sea. He told me that the name Mui Ne means Safe Harbor. OK; I was mollified for the moment, but did keep a close watch on the news and the sea level. If I saw the water suddenly retreating, I was ready to make a run for it.

The internet had been on and off for most of the day so I thought it best to email folks and let them know that all was ok here at the beach. Back watching the news I find out that Northern California is on a tsunami watch. What was up with that? I’m not that far from Japan, and all is well, yet San Francisco was busy preparing for destructive forces from the ocean.

I stayed up long enough to see that Hawaii got a slight hit but couldn’t stay awake to watch the California events, although the waves were to arrive within the hour. How could that be happening so soon after they left Japan? It takes 12 hours to fly from San Francisco to Taipei, yet the tsunami made the trip from Japan to California in seven hours? Next time I travel, I am going by tsunami.