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The Adventure ....

ships log

Sunday 5th May 2009
anchored outside Yacht Haven Marina, Phuket, Thailand

Oops - it's been a while since we updated the website but in my defence (Gillian's turn to update), it's been a flurry of activity since the last update - we've celebrated Chinese New Year, explored the western coast of Phuket, sailed from Thailand to Langkawi for Destiny's much needed antifouling, sailed back to Thailand where we holidayed for two weeks with Gillian's mother and stepdad, and now we're reprovisioning and doing repairs prior to checking out of Thailand for the sail back to Langkawi (this is what's commonly referred to as the "visa run" - we get a 1 month visa on arrival in Thailand, unless we've pre-arranged a 2 month visa in Penang (with option to extend for one more month, for a fee of-course); we get a 3 month visa on arrival in Langkawi - so if we're going to spend a bit of time in SE Asia (which is looking to be the case) we'll constantly be shuttling back and forth between the two countries).

Anyway, back to the update ................

Chinese New Year in Old Phuket Town was brilliant and we were so pleased we'd made the effort to go - we'd been listening to adverts broadcasting from the local radio station (Bluewave 90.5FM) for weeks whilst cruising Phang Nga Bay. The main roads through Old Phuket Town were closed to traffic with both sides of the streets full of street vendors mostly selling food - there was hardly enough room to walk but it was great fun shuffling up and down the street sampling traditional and local delicacies - half the time we had no idea what we were eating! It was great to see that the majority of participants of the arts & crafts exhibitions, cultural dances and food stalls were Thai school children who'd obviously been practicing and preparing for months - young dancing girls looking absolutely beautiful and so proud to be all dressed up and showing off their talents; lots of rivalry and laughter as youth from the food stalls competed with each other to tempt tourists to try their food; a cacophany of sound with street performers competing with crowd noise, stall banter and music. Our senses were overwhelmed and we wouldn't have missed it for anything.

Previous 5 images - Old Phuket Town Chinese New Year

45m high Big Budda, Ao Chalong

The Big Buddha is another "must see" - it's 45m high, sits atop the mountain ridge of southern Phuket and can be seen for miles out at sea. Our photo doesn't quite show the scale of the statue nor the complexity of putting it all together. Sadly, most of the information about the Big Buddha site was all written in Thai, and the official website is all in Thai too, but I've managed to find some info - check out this website .

Lately shopping for food isn't quite the big deal that we became used to while travelling through Indonesia - mainly because there's plenty of western type supermarkets, loads and loads of restaurants, not to mention that it's way too hot to cook onboard. It's reasonably cheap to eat out and Thai food is absolutely delicious - much better than anything we can rustle up! But while we've been out shopping, we've come across some unusual sights - like, how many varieties of rice can one stall have for sale? Could you guess the name of the spice you're smelling when walking through the local market? Why would there be a container full of fresh meat where everyone helps themselves (note the ungloved customer helping herself, while there's a masked store employee about - conflict of hygiene standards here), and why would a supermarket have a container full of fresh meat when there's refrigerated shelving with pre-packaged meat in the background? How does a restaurant work out how many chillies they need for the day? Do you know where the meat you're eating has been cooked?

Never seen so many varieties of rice or curry pastes and powders

In the evenings, street vendors pop up all over the place
Self-service fresh meat counters

Preparing Chilli for the day's cooking
Open spaces at a premium - BBQ lamb on the side of the street

Another interesting place is Bangla Street, Patong. By day, Patong is the usual tourist beachside town - the beach is full of "pink" bodies of all shapes and sizes sunbaking on beach recliners and having Thai massages, the taxi and tuk-tuk tout for business, street stall owners compete with one another for the passing trade but it's really very late at night when Patong comes alive. Bangla Street which is the main bar and club area, is closed to traffic and and the bars and clubs spill out onto the street. Music pulsates, girls gyrate on poles, alcohol flows freely. But the main attraction is spotting the "ladyboys" referred to as "Kathoey" in Thailand. Quoting The Lonely Planet "Almost all kathoey are male-to-female transsexuals and most adopt a feminine persona from a very early age. Many take female sex hormones later in life to reduce male characteristics or undergo sexual re-assignment surgery. Although foreigners tend to see kathoey as either cultural curiosities or sexual objects, in Thailand they are usually simply regarded as a third sex. Many kathoey have high profile jobs as entertainers, actors, game-show hosts and business owners. Performers in kathoey cabarets, such as Calypso in Bangkok and Tiffany's in Pattaya often become big stars. Most of the time, you may not even know you are meeting kathoey. The female persona adopted by kathoey can be very convincing to a Westerner, but a Thai knows that too much swish isn't the genuine dish. The Third Sex by Richard Totman is an interesting and sensitive exploration of this phenomenon".

Patong's Bangla Street infamous 'ladyboys" and pole dancing (probably very different behind closed doors)

And how can you come to Thailand and not get up close and personal with an elephant? We met up with a beautiful baby elephant Lucky and his stately mom while walking on the beach late one afternoon. Lucky has been trained to do a lopsided type of headstand (which is why in the photo below he's got sand on his forehead), give a kiss on the neck (which is what he's doing with Gill in the next image), hold tourist's hands, and he responds to the word "banana" with much shaking of his head and trunk and almost doing a little dance by shuffling his feet - banana's are obviously his favourite food. Some people might feel that parading elephants on the beach to tout for business is exploitation but it's really mind-blowing interacting with elephants and we couldn't get enough of them. Actually, the elephant trekking industry has really saved the elephants in Thailand as (thanks again to The Lonely Planet for the explanation) "when the Thai government banned hardwood logging in 1989, many hailed the move as a victory for the environment, but Thailand's many working elephants were an unexpected casualty. Huge numbers of elephants suddenly found themselves out of work, and Bangkok was inundated by desperate jumbos and their handlers begging for small change and food. They were banned from the centre of Bangkok but this did little to solve the underlying pachyderm problem. Then someone had the bright idea of moving the elephants to tourists centres in southern Thailand to provide tours for tourists. The treks are a massive hit, and most tourists centres now offer elephant treks to virgin-forest areas or waterfalls and scenic caves."

Amazing to see elephants on the beach - Destiny anchored in the background

Elephant Temple, Nai Harn Bay
Fishing port of Ban Thap Lamu, north of Phuket

We've had a sample of how the other end of the scale travel around the world - while at Yacht Haven Marina, we met the skipper and crew of the super yacht Jamasa and were invited aboard for a tour of the ship. Wow, how the other half lives! Stately lounges with deep pile carpeting, large lounge suites and moveable chairs, walls to hang pictures, surfaces to display art and ornaments, mega size LCD TV electronically raised/lowered within it's own cabinet (now you see it, now you don't); media on demand (music, TV, video, internet) throughout the entire ship; all cabins have marble floored en-suite bathrooms and their own large wall mounted LCD TV; 12 full time crew; "Starship Enterprise" doors (electronically open/close with the same swish "Starship Enterprise" sound - impressed Brian!); helicopter landing pad; full gym; outdoor jacuzzi; multiple outdoor sitting areas; massive 5 star restaurant-standard kitchen; 2 washing machines and tumble dryers, 1 full time laundress (imagine, someone just to iron! Our clothes haven't seen an iron in months!); waste water treatment; water making facility; huge spotless engine room with every conceivable piece of equipment and all types of tools; large aft "garage" full of scuba gear, windsurfers, jet ski's, canoes; and other superyacht that tags along with all the other "play" paraphanalia. We were advised that the ship costs approx. US$ 3 million a year to run and maintain. We walked around with our lower jaws hanging on the floor. Poor Destiny, she seems sooooo small in comparison when we returned back to her :-)

Fishing traps made at Ban Thap Lamu, north of Phuket
Superyacht Jamasa berthed at Yacht Haven Marina, Phuket

The beautiful anchorage of Nai Harn Bay - in our opinion, one of the nicest anchorages in Phuket

I've already mentioned that we eat out a lot for a number or reasons - there are loads of very good restaurants and street vendors, it's way too hot to cook onboard, it's reasonably cheap to eat out (often cheaper than buying fresh ingredients and cooking our own meals) and of course, as everyone knows, Thai food is absolutely delicious. We've really enjoyed looking out for those restaurants that have something else to offer besides good food and prices - here's a few images of the restaurants we've been to that also have stunning views. We've also been blown away with the ingenuity of the Thai people putting up eateries with not much more than what's available on the beach - give or take a tarp or two, and without stripping the beach of all vegetation !

A variety of great beach restaurants we've had the good fortune to come across - food's been good too!

Someone has to take time out !
A squadron of squid around our anchor chain - where's the net ?

Our good friends from Brisbane (Debbie, Ian, Jake and Armelle) were holidaying in Laos during March, so we made some "on the spur of the minute" internet bookings and got together for a weekend in Kuala Lumpur (apologies to our KL friends whom we didn't see during this trip which was way too short and very busy - next time, promise :-) It was great to catch up with Debbie and Ian getting all the latest goss from home (and all our mail!). We all stayed at Anjung KL Guesthouse in the Golden Triangle of downtown KL - a great central location and we could easily walk to shops, eateries and sightseeing places. Petronas Towers were high on the sight seeing agenda (especially if you've seen that jewel thief movie (can't remember the name) where Sean Connery and Catherine-Zeta Jones (or their stand-in stunt actors) do some amazing acrobatics on the walkway between the two towers). It's a very slick operation even though Brian and I queued for at least 2 hours to get tickets for a midday viewing. The views from the walkway are stunning - sadly we couldn't go higher - the view from right on high must be amazing.

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
View from Petronas Towers - suburbs of KL sprawling into the distance

Catching up with the Beveridges in Kuala Lumpur
Couldn't resist this one - the two "Maxies" at the Telco "Maxis" stand

Chinese Temple, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Old Lanta Town, Koh Lanta, Thailand

When we returned to Phuket, we immediately checked out and headed south again towards Langkawi for Destiny's long overdue antifouling at Rebak Marina. It took us about 10 days leisurely sailing along the Thai mainland, visiting new islands and anchorages. We especially liked Ko Lanta and the surrounding area as it reminded us of how Krabi and Phi Phi Island were about 20 years ago. A very relaxed place as it's a bit out of the way with not much tourism (although it's starting to change - lots of hotel building on the go, and now there's an airport at Krabi, 1 hours drive away). As long as we're cruising in this part of the world, I'm sure that we'll return.

en-route Phuket to Langkawi - limestone cliffs soaring out of the sea
A flip-flop tree - made from flip=flops that get washed up onto the beach

More wonderful anchorages - Ko Muk, south Thailand

And then there was the antifouling. A full on week of hard slog in 30+ Celcius temperatures, not to mention the humidity and daily late afternoon thunderstorms. Actually, the antifouling (for those not in know, antifoul is a paint which helps prevent marine organisms attaching and growing on the hull of the boat. A "reef" growing on the hull slows the yacht considerably. We were pleasantly surprised at how "clean" the hull was after last antifouling in Bundaberg 18 months ago - the "before" (straight out of the water) and "after" photos say it all. But despite all the hard work, it was really nice staying at Rebak Marina, which also has a 5 star hotel attached - one of our favourite past time was collapsing into the swimming pool each afternoon and catching up with the other cruisers.

Before and After - antifouling at Rebak Marina, Langkawi, Malaysia

And again, to finish off, a couple of sunset shots but all the more spectacular due to the daily thunderstorm activity

Wow, that was a mammoth update - hope all our "followers" have had their fill. It's Brian's turn to next update the site - I'm sure he'll be more timely with the update than I've been :-)

Until then, don't forget to drop us a line (we love getting emails and "meeting" new people who've found the website), stay well, and very best regards from Destiny III.
B & G