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We were rocked gently by waves coming around the corner into our anchorage on the northwest side of Phi Phi Don due to the prevailing winds at this time of year. On the morning of July 24, Jerry, Jennifer and Antonio paddled the kayak to Phi-Phi village, a classic "tourist trap" with no businesses except those necessary for tourism. After walking around for an hour they returned with a few groceries and a new mask and snorkel. We dropped our mooring and motored around to the protected bay on the south side of the island. This was a busy scene, with all moorings taken and many boats taking tourists for outings. We continued around to the east side of the island, past a few resorts and eventually anchored on a sandy strip beside a small reef. We did a little snorkeling and saw a few fish but not very good coral. After a dinner of chicken and vegetable sandwiches on French bread, Jennifer, Nico and Stephanie went ashore to the resort for karaoke until 1am. Nina got very tired keeping Antonio entertained until he finally fell asleep.
The next morning started slowly, but eventually everyone was snorkeling. The most interesting sighting was a big banded sea snake, which continued quietly about its business but made us keep a sharp lookout for other creatures. All four of our guests got aboard the kayak and went to the resort to use the pool. They returned with ice cream. We feasted that night on shrimp scampi, broccoli, carrots, rice, salad and Jennifer's fudge for dessert.
(view Ko Phi Phi Don photos)
On the 26th we sailed to Ko Dam Hok and Ko Dam Khwan, known as the "Chicken Islands" because of a peculiar rock formation which looks something like a chicken's neck and head. We took a mooring off the southern island and snorkeled from the dinghy. There were many lovely fish along the edge of the reef, including a Lionfish, a school of Razorfish and Beaked Coralfish, all of which are exceptional sightings even for us. Nico, Steph and Jennifer also went to the sandbar between the islands and found some nice shells. Nina made two pizzas for dinner.
(view Chicken Islands photos)
The next morning we saw several jellyfish so decided against snorkeling here again. We sailed around the north end of these islands and passed through a little squall to moor at Ko Hong before noon. It was a very calm anchorage on the southeast side where we had a quiet lunch. Nobody was interested in exploring the lagoon, so we sailed to the northeast end of Ko Yao Noi and anchored near the "Paradise" resort. Steph and Nico pulled each other to the top of our mast for a good view, and then all our guests went to the resort to try the pool and other facilities until after sunset. Nina named and organized many of Jennifer's photos, and we backed them up onto CD-ROMs. Nina fixed lentils, chicken and tortillas for dinner. We all ate outside in the front cockpit on a very pleasant evening.
In the middle of the night there was a sudden rainstorm, which lasted for only a few minutes but caught us with all our hatches open so we had to run around and close everything quickly. We didn't get too wet. Nico requested pancakes for breakfast, so Nina made them for all of us. When we motored around the top of Ko Yao Noi we found a westerly wind of 20 knots blowing in our face. We motored across the flats into the wind at nearly high tide, and passed just south of Ko Boi Noi. In deeper water we turned more to the south and raised sail. Nico and Steph helped us tack up the narrowing channel for a while, but we eventually took the easy way by furling the sails and simply motoring into the wind to Yacht Haven Marina. Once tied to the dock we all indulged in long showers and a session at the email cafe. We walked down the road to "Mama & Papa's" restaurant for authentic Thai food overlooking the harbor.
July 29 was the last full day in Thailand for our guests, and there were a few specific things they wanted to do. We rented a car, and stopped first at the airport to confirm the reservations which seemed impossible to confirm by phone. Then we went to Bang Pae where they rode elephants through a rubber tree plantation for an hour. With gentle elephants and competent drivers it was not frightening, and even Antonio ended by sitting on an elephant's head. We visited the Bang Pae Waterfall and the Gibbon Rehabilitation Center nearby. We had Pad Thai for lunch there, but it was too spicy for some. Sunny had directed Jennifer to a pearl shop owned by the parents of one of his classmates, so we went there and made a few purchases. To complete the necessary shopping we went to Tesco/Lotus for some less costly presents for other friends and relatives back home. They decided to eat aboard one last time, so we bought cooked chickens and vegetables to steam and ate in the front cockpit after dark. Before going to bed we made two full copies of all Jennifer's photos on CD-ROMs, and they packed their bags.
(view Phuket photos)
Sunday morning found us all awake and busy before 7:00, and we were in the rental car by 7:40. There was almost no traffic, so we arrived at the airport by 8:30. The "departure tax" of 500 Baht was a surprise, and Jennifer had to visit an ATM after spending all her local cash the day before. Nina and Jerry were not allowed in the passenger lounge, so we said our goodbyes outside and drove back to the boat through heavy rain and strong wind. This was supposed to be the "rainy season" and we were fortunate that we had so much good weather while we were all on the boat. Their flight was delayed by the bad weather, but finally took off and they spent the night in Kuala Lumpur. They had hoped to visit the Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest buildings in the world, but tickets were limited and all gone early in the morning so they did not have that chance. The overseas flights home were long, but they all arrived safely with souvenirs, photos and stories for their friends and families. Nina and Jerry resumed a quieter lifestyle, and moved towards Ao Chalong to check out of Thailand after a wonderful, busy month with guests.
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