Thailand - Oct-Nov 2012

Post date: Jan 21, 2013 1:58:15 PM

We were really busy most of our first month in Phuket, removing rust and painting the deck and we are very proud of the result. To protect the deck from chipping and us from slipping we found some great non slip mat at a very reasonable price from the inflatable dinghy shop just across the road. 480 Baht or $16 for a sheet 8'x4'. It has made the cockpit look very neat and easy to manage and hopefully protect it from chips in the paint.

We have travelled around on motor cycles ( 150 baht for a day).

Some of the places we have been

The Big Buddha dominates the skyline of southern Phuket. The Big Buddha is huge and the complex, when it is finished, will be enormous. The original form was made in concrete and now, through the donations by tourists and the devoted it is being covered in small marble tiles. The view of Chalong Bay and Phuket town from here is spectacular. You can see as far as Phi Phi island. The whole edifice has been made through the donation of money by Buddhists.

As we were riding up the winding mountain road we saw elephants grazing from one of the elephant trekking business. They were not wild but it was nice for a moment to think that they were. It was so cool to see elephants just being elephants.

Promthep Cape is the southern-most point in Phuket. It is stunning and thousands of people go there and face west to see the magnificent sunsets over the Andaman Sea.

The lighthouse on Promthep Cape

Rawai Sea gypsy village. Here there are many seafood and souvenir shell stalls. We were saddened by the number of shells that were not in the water being houses for their builders or for other sea creatures, but to be bought as souvenirs of a good time in a tropical paradise. The fish you can buy and the barbecue restaurants across the road will cook them for you to your liking.

Kata, Karon and Patong Beaches. They are beautiful beaches. The sand is white, the water clean and warm and there is very little of them to see as the crowds of tourists take up much of the sand with their beach chairs, rented by the day. The street life behind the beaches revolves around bars, souvenirs and massage parlours –

The Phuket Aquarium. (100 Baht for foreigners) This is a tourist facility with an ecological message ( Don't mess up the ocean with rubbish or pollutants)– the displays were sparkling clean and the occupants were active and alert, but there were no labels on many of the displays as they were renovating. One of the best displays was a tank with several large grouper . . .very large grouper.

There is an interesting environmental walk along the beach to the jetty where the research vessel is tied up. We walked past the hatchery where exhibits for the displays are reared and a turtle nursery where hundreds of miniature turtles are growing big enough to be returned to the wild. There is a reference collection that you can visit that preserves thousands of specimens. The aquarium was established many years ago to research and monitor the marine resources and to establish a centre in Phuket to communicate and promote environmental awareness.

Wat Chalong – the main Buddhist temple in the southern part of the island is beautiful, sparkling and a serene place to visit. It is a shame that everywhere you go there are stalls selling tourist items. The temples are varied and the climb up the pagoda reveals a lovely view of the beautiful, elegant Thai style roofs of the whole complex.

Fantasea This entertainment extravaganza took our breath away. The scale of the production was immense and the setting for the show was magnificent. Elephants, trapeze artists and a story based on a Thai folk legend. It was very well done and a great show. You can book to see the show only or to have a buffet meal as well as the show for a bit more. The “park” opens at 5 and the main show is at 9 pm. Sometimes there is an earlier show at 7. What do you do before the show? Shop of course! The park is a shopping mall for Thai souvenirs. Many of the shops are selling high quality and expensive items of porcelain and jewellery but others have items that can be bought outside in any market as well. Apart from the restaurants serving the buffet meals there are few food outlets, so a quick snack is hard to find. There are only a few other activities to keep restless patrons occupied.

A transfer service is available from most hotels in Phuket at varying prices, or if you have a car there is parking available too.

The show ticket gives you entry to the park, and a seat in the Theatre to see the show. No cameras, phones or recording devices are permitted in the theatre and there is a place to deposit them at the entrance.

We thoroughly enjoyed the show but if we went again we would probably go later and eat before we arrived.

Phuket Zoo We went to the zoo hoping for a great experience to see Thailand's native fauna displayed in appropriate enclosures. We were disappointed. They were mostly in concrete and wire cages with little for them to do but sit and look bored. The apes and elephants were the saddest. The range of wildlife was not huge and many of the displays were inadequate for the animal's needs. There are a few animal shows for entertainment,– monkey, crocodile and elephant but they were not enjoyable or entertaining to watch. The place smelt and the enclosures were not very clean. There is the opportunity to spend even more money and buy food so that you can feed the animals yourself.

The entry ticket price was larger that we expected (B500) compared to other attractions here in Phuket . We were not impressed.

Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre This is a wonderful volunteer operation to try and return gibbons that have been taken from their parents to be used as props for photographers (an illegal operation) in the tourist strips or as pets to their natural environment. Many of these animals have been traumatised and diseased because of the drugs they have been given to calm them down, so not all of the rescued gibbons can be returned to the wild. It takes many years to prepare a young gibbon to return to the wild and is progressively done through a series of enclosures on the side of the hill at the site near the Bang Pae waterfall and rainforest. The volunteer guides are well informed, speak excellent English and give a detailed account of the work that they do. They are very passionate about this cause. There are local workers too who go into the site every day and prepare food for the apes.

At the centre you can only see a small part of the operation because the aim is for them to “forget” about their human contact. There are souvenirs to buy which help to raise funds for the project and you can “adopt” animals which helps with their upkeep and rehabilitation.

The entry to the project is free but there is a fee for entering the park for visitors.

Tour of Phangna Bay. We chose PPT tours to take us to see the amazing topography and sights of Phangna Bay and we were treated to a wonderful day. The cost (B 1400) included hotel pick up by mini bus, refreshments at the pier, the boat tour, an English speaking guide, transfers to James Bond Island by long tail, lunch, guided canoe adventures into the hongs of Hong Island and Panak Island and soft drink and water and return to hotel, tired and happy.

The crew on our particular boat were fantastic, the guides on board and the canoe boys made for a fun-filled day. The lunch, prepared on board as we were sailing up the magnificent waterway, was wonderful and plentiful.

The scenery was magnificent. The stalls on James Bond Island were unnecessary and none seemed to be very busy, even though there were many many tourists there. An hour here was more than enough. It would have been good to have spent more time in the amazing hongs, but we were aware of the number of people who were visiting these enclosed structures and everyone is entitled to their turn. The state of the tide is an issue for some of them too too high or low and you can't get in or out, but we were so glad that we saw them.

We will definitely return to explore further.