Monday, March 12, 2012

Taking it slow in Thailand

Rene has decided that he loves riding motorbikes/scooters. He hired one for three days in Chalong and delighted in zipping about on it. He will definitely go for his license when we're back in Australia after getting a taste for it over here where a normal car license suffices.
Look closely at Rene's face - he's loving it!
After the whirlwind of happiness having our good friend Jacqui here, we had to face the reality of cruising alone again. Lots of chores to do. Many loads of laundry (done at the local laundromat and then hung on the boat to dry), big trips to various supermarkets to stock up on fresh food and snacks again. 

Rene insisted that we take a little time out to go on a date up to the big Buddha. This statue is huge, visible from both sides of Phuket for miles. We took our bike up the steep, winding track and enjoyed the serenity at the top of the hill.  

The Big Buddha's view of Chalong harbour.
 Before leaving Chalong, we had the onerous task of filling our water tanks. Unlike Malaysia, the water here in Thailand is not potable. Everyone drinks treated, bottled water, even the locals. We arranged with the local water guy to buy 20 drums of water (at 12cents per 20 gallon drum). Then we moved Anima over to the public jetty and tied up. Rene zipped into the water man and got a lift back with him and all of the water drums. As we filled up, lots of curious Thai's wandered over to look at us. I guess most yachts have water makers these days so we're a bit of a novelty. The public jetty was very rusty and the wind changed just after we'd tied up, pushing us against the large, black rubber fender things it has along the edge. As tour boats continued to zoom in and out of the bay, we bounced back and forth and each tried to keep Anima from getting a nasty black mark on her new paintwork!
Anima tied up at the public jetty in Chalong.
This old cleat needs some serious TLC.
Panwa Beach (meet-up beach)
Just across to the north east of Chalong harbour is a beach anchorage that many favour instead of the busy main anchorage. Just how many favour it we didn't realise until arriving and spending a few days catching up with old cruising friends in between pottering away at boat jobs. We caught up with Dale and Sophia from Freeform, Chris and Julie from Lady Bubbly, Kellie, Youngie and Indi from Molonga, Lady Kay and Tasha D.M. We did lots of little boat jobs that I won't bore you with here. There will be plenty of that to come! We ate at the little beach restaurant a few times here and had some fun making mazes for Indi and playing night boules with Kellie. 
Buddha at sunset from Panwa beach.
Ko Racha Yai 
Time flies. Nearly a week flew by at Panwa beach before we realised it and decided to head off. We sailed south to this island the day after we were battered with strong south westerlies. We collected a mooring and bounced about like crazy as the wind continued to channel in from the west. We knew it was going to switch to the east though, we just hoped it would switch a little quicker! The beach is nice here, though a lot of rubbish was coming in with the tide from who knows where! Africa? India? Could have been a cruise ship even. We ate dinner at a local restaurant, sharing a meal and watching local life. The most fun aspect of this anchorage was the floating jetty which became a fun ride to be on as the waves crashed in!
Ko Racha Yoi - clear waters of the Indian Ocean.
Patong (not again!)
With strong easterly winds honking, we left our mooring under sail. Racha is nice but so busy with tourist boats (as usual around here). As we sailed along, I realised that I was relaxed - in conditions that used to scare me, I was relaxed!! We passed Molonga who were heading to where we'd departed from. Check out the figurehead!! 

Molonga sails past as we head opposite directions.
My new-found bravado melted when we tacked across Patong bay, heeling over quite dramatically as we encountered a strong gust of wind. I screamed and my body filled with adrenaline!

Rene kindly offered to do the shopping chore so that I could do some TESOL study. He found the local wet markets and enjoyed the experience. We had dinner out in Patong that night and set off a lantern, after making a special wish! 
We wish....... oh, sorry - that's a secret!
As I write this, we are slowly drifting north toward tonight's destination of the 'airport' anchorage. We must be getting close as I can hear the planes taking off every now and then. The wind mysteriously disappeared as we left Patong but we didn't have far to go, so we have just floated along in light winds. Rene is studying maths. I've been studying English! 
Tomorrow we plan to sail west across the sea to the Similans. A small group of rocks and islands that are supposedly the clearest water around. There are only a few spots to moor and the anchorages are quite deep (I read 35 metres today!). So I'm a little apprehensive about it but keen to check out a beautiful spot too. Wish us luck! I'll hopefully nab lots of pretty photos while we're there. 
Exhilerating photography!
Well. We didn't sail to the Similans today. There was no wind when we woke up so we delayed our departure. Instead we walked the beach here and decided it's probably the best we've seen in Thailand so far. For the first time we also saw locals enjoying the beach rather than just tourists. The serenity of this place is interrupted regularly by planes arriving and departing. We're right next to Phuket's International airport! I had a great adrenaline rush perched on the sand directly below where the planes fly in to land. It feels as though they're going to land on your head! The water here is crystal clear so we had a swim until the sea lice annoyed me too much. We were going to sail further north this afternoon but our dinghy started deflating so Rene has spent a few hours assessing the problem and regluing the rubber. We still might head to the Similans tomorrow.... we'll see!

Thailand's best kept secret.

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