Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Xmas and New Year

The  days leading up to Xmas drifted into one another. I went with Behan one morning to the local markets where we filled a plastic tray with herbs and veggies and the total cost was a couple of dollars. There was none of the hype and activity that surrounds them at home, the preparations for the big meal and the arrival of family. It was all very ho-hum. We had arranged to have our Xmas lunch with our friends Behan, Jamie and the kids from Totem. They also had family out from the States, so a table of 10 took our seats at a lovely restaurant overlooking Ao Chalong harbour. It was a beautiful setting under the shade of huge trees with Xmas music playing softly in the background. We had opted for a Thai meal rather than western food and had a wonderful afternoon drawing out our lunch for nearly 3 hours. So lovely to have shared it with friends though missed my family all the same.

Shopping with Beham (Totem) at the local markets at Ao Chalong

Xmas Day luncheon with Totem and visiting family overlooking Ao Chalong

A couple of days before New Year, we headed up the East coast of Phuket to Yacht Haven Marina located on the north of the island. We had arranged to catch up with some rally yachts for dinner and to welcome in the New Year at one of the local restaurants in waking distance of the marina. It was a fun night with lots of laughs, good food and company. What a year it had been and we had accomplished so much. The next day it was low key getting over a very late night - thank goodness it's only once a year.

Myself and Pete with Irena (Footloose) getting in the mood.

John (Footloose) and Pete celebrating the end of a great year.

Soon it was time to push off again and now it was to head north into the 'Hongs' of Thailand. Many of the islands have a  'Hong' meaning 'room' in Thai, and can usually only be entered on middle to high tide by dingy or kayak. Often through a narrow entrance it opens into a large lagoon like area surrounded by lush vegetation and rock formations. We had arranged to meet up with Robyn and Craig from Gemini and together were amazed at the landscape of the area, with its hundreds of islands scattered around and making it a spectacular place to cruise. Sheer cliffs dropping down to white sandy beaches pocketed throughout, some full of tourist laden 'long tails' (Thai boats) dropping dozens of sight seers for a couple of hours, some beaches without a soul in sight. Many of the beaches are full of monkeys. They can be curious to a point then they can show aggression - .I do not like monkeys !!

A family of four monkeys coming close to check us out.
The spectacular rock formation of the 'Hongs' area.

Overhanging rock with Kittani and Gemini anchored in the background.

We spent a night at a Sea Gypsy Village built mostly on stilts. A popular destination for the tourist boats - the books say that up to 3,000 visitors per day over the lunch period. That's a lot of mouths to feed, and the chaos of long tails arriving and departing with tourists had to be seen to be believed. We went ashore and wandered amongst the markets - heaps of clothing and souvenirs along with men making fishing nets - interesting. That evening we went back to one of the restaurants for dinner and had the hottest Thai food I have ever had. By the end of the meal, all we could do was suck on ice cubes to stop our lips from burning, laugh and wonder how we would pull up the next day !!! The smaller the chilly, the bigger the burn !!!!

                Sea Gypsy Village built on stilts over the water

Looking between the houses

Pete watching the fishing nets being made - a monotonous job.

Horse Crab on the menu - they get their 'b' and 'p' mixed up !!

We spent the following night anchored in a lagoon between 2 outcrops of rocks with hardly a noise or boat around. We purchased prawns from a local fishing boat, so fresh that later that day when I went to peel them, I had to ask Pete to deal with the ones that were still waving their legs in protest. That evening dinner was on Gemini, and after Robyn doing a Thai cooking course the previous week, she excelled herself with a fantastic meal. A good nights sleep was had in the perfect quietness of  our surroundings, not even aware of the boat changing direction with the change of tides. Next night was at a popular tourist beach with the clearest of water we had seen in a while. We spent the day onboard leaving the tourists to enjoy the island. Once the last boat had gone, we headed ashore with Gemini for a swim in sheltered bay and sundowners having the place virtually to ourselves. The white sand, the blue water, the lush vegetation, the cliffs, the peace - this is what it is all about.


The beach at Ko Hong (Krabi) before the long tails start arriving
The start of the tourists arriving - boats wall to wall in no time.

Me testing the water for a swim - it was so clear and cool.

Local long tail arriving into through the entrance to the Hong

View from the beach at Sundowners with Gemini

Pete loving it all.

Time to head back down to Ao Chalong. We have just dropped anchor back in the harbour and need to get ashore and provision before heading off tomorrow making our way up the west coast of Phuket and Thailand towards the Burma border.

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