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The Adventure ....

ships log
Saturday 14th February 2009
Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Happy Valentines Day to all our readers.

Hope you didn't waste money on cards, and instead shared a nice bottle of wine with your paramour (or if single, drank it all yourself:-).

We've just enjoyed cruising Phang Nga Bay (between east coast of Phuket and mainland Thailand) and it's been a bit of a change for us - the first time in a long time that we haven't had a fixed schedule, so there's nowhere we need to be - result is when we find an anchorage we particualarly like we can be lazy and stay as long as we like - we've never read so many books and have enjoyed a real 'chill out' time.

A stitched together photo - these are the stunning panoramic views in the Phang Nga Bay - our current playground

Before we get into the itinerary, a couple of answers to readers questions - firstly, many of you wanted more detail on the motor bike stack on Pangkor. Suffice to say the huge power of the Honda 110cc moped was just to much for Brian to tame! Actually we came a gutser going up a mountain on a hairpin bend, ran out of steam in second gear with another yachtie trying an overtaking manouevre, so dropped the beast into first gear and gave it everything - result was a very impressive reverse somersault. Happy to report that all wounds now fully healed, pride restored and we're back in the saddle - braved the insane Phuket traffic on a bike the other day and lived!

Next item for clarification is regarding the pic on the December page showing us provisioning by dinghy - YES, that was 10 cases of beer, reason being that in Langkawi it's cheap at around AU$ 40c per can, so it makes good financial sense to buy as much as we can carry! And everytime we have a beer we're actually saving money! How good is that - the more we drink the more we save! (By the way regular readers might have noticed that we alternate in writing the blog - Gill does one, Brian does the next. If your wondering whose turn this is, then the topics of beer and motorbikes plus vague ramblings could be a clue! Expect a sensible detailed account next month!)

But, back to the main plot - we've been wandering around the Andaman Sea and Phang Nga bay areas of Thailand for the last 4 or 5 weeks. Many of you who have holidayed in southern Thailand will be familiar with this area, which is dominated by stunning limestone sea mountains that rise vertically out of the milky green sea. Over 100 islands, with plenty of tropical beaches that are often extolled as the finest in the world. Here's some pics with commentary:-

These are typical of the entrances to caves and 'hongs' (hong is Thai for 'room'). Hongs are lagoons within the islands, open to the sky but sometimes with no visible sign from the seaward side. Some of them were only discovered by aerial survey.

Hours of fun exploring delightful hidden places

Destiny at anchor under the immense limestone cliffs

One of the things we're really enjoying here in Thailand is the food - we're spoilt with excellent thai food - loads of fresh seafood and chillies! And this area is a fantastic cruising ground, not just because of the spectacular scenery, but also because it's easy to sail to a town or village if we fancy a restaurant meal, or if we're doing our 'antisocial' bit and hiding away somewhere with no tourists, then the friendly local fisherman are quite happy to sell us their fresh catch - we've had many a 'prawn fest' on Destiny ( so those of you who thought our cruise was going to be all beer and prawns - quite right!).

Local fisherman offering us a 'killer' prawn!
A different take on "one for the road"

Lunch wagon - Thai style!
Mobile restaurant comes to Rai Leh beach for the tourist market
Sail Thailand rally gala dinner - ate like kings, thanks to Thai Tourist Authority - lovely water front restaurant. The Pier, Ao Chalong, Phuket

Interesting things you see - this cat was not on the menu,
just prefers to spend it's time snoozing in the fridge. I guess this
breaks a few health codes, but the meal we had in this Phi Phi Don restaurant was one of the best ever

Sometimes the Thai script (also known as 'Spaghetti" writing)
can make chosing from a menu a lucky dip - no problem here tho". 'Civilisation' has reached Ao Nang

The Thai language is, quite frankly, almost impossible for people like us with diminished brain capacity. Don't quote me on any of this but there are something like 44 consonants and 48 vowel and dipthong options, not to mention the different tones, but on the plus side the people here are really, really friendly. So, attempting a few basic phrases usually results in hysterical laughter, but not in a way that makes you feel stupid - it's all treated as good fun. They say Thailand is the land of smiles, and it's true - the locals smile a lot, even when they don't know you're watching! It's a very refreshing and inspirational way of life - we certainly notice a huge difference from Malysia and Indonesia.

But back to exploring. One 'hong' we entered was through a tunnel about 200m long. A couple of bends in the middle made it pitch black, with the chattering of roosting bats making it quite spooky. Sea kayaks are the preferred mode of transport, but we managed to get our dinghy in with a little difficulty - first thing we discovered is that paddling takes both hands, so you can't hold a torch as well! Just before coming out of the tunnel into the lagoon the roof came so low that we had to both lie on the floor of the dinghy and push through with hands on the ceiling. Good adventure stuff and needs a careful watch on the state of the tide!

Colourful stalactite formation inside a cave - the "moon" is actually Brian's torch on the back wall

More cave exploring !
This rock in the middle of nowhere caught my eye,
amazing that trees can get a hold

Impressive overhangs underneath the sheer cliffs - to say the
geography in this area is spectacular is an understatement.
Intersting uses for caves - this one has a film crew in action
- shooting what we think is a local TV drama about pirates!

A sizeable fishing village, built on stilts in the shallow water around
a stunning rock pinnacle - apart from fishing, the community seems,
to do quite well from the many restaurants that attract dozens of
tourist boats for lunch. We went late in the day and virtually had
'Koh Pan Yi" island to ourselves..
Beautiful views and beautiful name - this place is called "Chong Lat"
but we prefer our name version of "Choc Lat'!

We've come across a few fisherman shrines in our travels through Thailand, all displaying numerous carved wooden phalluses, of all shapes and sizes and beautifully decorated. The most impressive shrine was at Tham Phra Nang (Princess Cave) at Railay Beach. As per the Lonely Planet guidebook "it's believed that an Indian Princess was lost at sea around the 3rd century BC, the spirit of the drowned princess inhabited the cave and granted favours to all those who pay their respects. Muslim and Buddhist local fishermen place the carved "willies" in the cave as offerings hoping that the spirit will provide plenty of fish".

Fisherman shrine at Tham Phra Nang (Princess Cave), Railay Beach
Another fisherman shrine at Koh Rok Nok, enroute to Phuket

Local boats all have colourful "good luck" pennants & scarves on the bow

Fantastic scenery no matter where we sailed (or motor sailed!)
Getting ready for sunset (and maybe the green flash!)

Another brilliant anchorage
Kho Roi - a crowded anchorage - we had to share with a power boat!

And to finish off, a couple of sunset shots - the weather has been fantastic and we get spectacular sunsets everyday,
so naturally we have many, many pics of sunsets !

Next destinations for us are (roughly) back to Phuket for Chinese New Year celbrations, then up the West Coast of Phuket, including checking out the night spots of Patong beach and it's infamous 'ladyboys" - standby for the next update!

Until then, drop us a line, stay well, and very best regards from Destiny III.
B & G