To Thailand

Post date: Oct 18, 2012 7:40:21 AM

Journey to Thailand.

What a wonderful 10 days we had travelling through the islands of Southern Thailand to Phuket and Ao Chalong, the home of cruising.

Finally the skies were clear and the weather fine. We checked the boat out of Malaysia with the Harbour master at Telaga Harbour, then we went to Customs and Immigration – well tried to – the Customs man did not arrive at work that day – or the next – so we caught a cab to Kuah Town and checked out with Customs and Immigration there.

When we returned we lifted the anchor, and bade farewell to Malaysian waters. We enjoyed Malaysia, the gentle people and their quiet lifestyle.

It is not far to Thailand. We motor-sailed to Koh Lipe in the Butang group to spend our first night in Thai waters. It was a beautiful calm night and clear sunny morning. The island looked inviting – long tails and resorts scattered along the white sand beaches.

The beautiful island of Koh Lipe

Over the next few days we island hopped through the islands with exotic names and even more exotic landscapes above and below the water. The diving here was superb – the clearest water we have seen since Indonesia. The coral was a bit degraded in some places but the sea-life made up for it – there were fish by the millions. All shapes and sizes. Our best finds were the enormous stingray lurking on the bottom and the moray eels we saw peeking out of their caves. Butterfly and parrot fish were everywhere and the giant clams with their colourful lips ranged in size from small to enormous in a wide range of colours – if they are a litmus test for the health of the reef systems they seem to be doing well.

Some of the amazing underwater life at Koh Rawi

Boat maintenance in exotic locations

Further north the geology changed from granite to limestone and the iconic karst landforms that are the signature of Phang – na Bay east of Phuket, the water became less clear but the scenery was spectacular. Koh Phetra, a limestone ridge 377m high was a stunning anchorage.

Looking north to the island of Koh Phetra as we approached. The anchorage is to the east

A lonely bird nesters hut nestled on the rocks at Koh Phetra. It is one of the main birdnesting islands in the area. Birds nests from the swiftlet are used in Chinese medicines and cosmetics and are very valuable. The collectors fiercely guard their rock.

Our first visit ashore was on the island of Koh Muk where we walked through the local village and were reassured by the signs that let everyone know where to go in the event of a tsunami. This place was badly damaged in 2004. The village and resorts on the sandy spit are on very flat land, although there are some higher hills here too. The main industry here seems to be fishing, but there were rubber and coconut plantations as well, and there is the beginning of a tourist industry.

signs of the times in Koh Muk

Our next destination was the tourist Mecca, Koh Phi Phi Don, again damaged badly in the 2004 tsunami but there is little evidence of it now. Thousands of people arrive there every day and stay at the myriad resorts lining the beaches. It is hard to find a quiet anchorage here now. The dive charter boats have taken up residence along one wall of the main bay and there are hundreds of other fast speed boats and longtails vying for business to take dive tourists to the caves and bays of Koh Phi Phi Le only a few km away. It is a bit sad that there is virtually nowhere on this magnificent island that can be visited without being crowded out by the many tourist operations. But there are other islands. We will find them while we are in Thailand.

Colourful longtails at Koh Phi Phi Don waiting for customers

Then it was on to Phuket to Ao Chalong where we anchored amongst the moorings and went ashore to officially check in to Thailand. We have discovered the Phuket Cruising Yacht Club – a friendly joint where the beer is cold the food excellent and the water there sometimes. The dinghies are safe and the welcome is cheerful. The wet market is nearby, pork is easily available and the food is great

from Phuket Cruising Yacht Club - where did the water go??

Anchorages from Telaga Harbour to Ao Chalong