Today, the rain finally stopped halfway through the afternoon. I was beginning to think it was going to carry on for the rest of our holiday.
Yesterday morning, we were booked on a “June Bahtra” cruise, which would take us across the Phang-Nga Bay in a traditional Junk boat, from where we would transfer to a long tail, to see the Grotto Cave, Sea Gypsy village and James Bond Island, arriving back at 5-30 in the afternoon.
We rose extra early and had a quick breakfast, dubiously looking out of the window at grey skies and dripping rain. Not very promising at all, but we lived in hope as our mini bus taxi carried us along the road filled with commuters, mostly on motor bikes, and others crowded onto the back of pick up trucks. We saw one motorbike with sidecar, carrying 5 people, one of whom was holding an umbrella aloft. Another one was steering his bike with one hand, and clinging onto his umbrella with the other; a sort of biking Mary Poppins.
As we approached the Marina, the boats all looked very sombre against the grey water and even darker sky. When I saw the photo, I wondered why it was in black and white, but then realised that this was exactly how it had looked.
I hurried towards our boat, hoping to beat the rain which was starting up again.
By the time we got on board, it was teeming down. The leaking roof had been patched with sticky tape which was coming apart, so that water was dripping onto the table in front of our seat, and splashing all around. I was a bit unhappy about that, but I shouldn’t have worried, as that water was absolutely nothing, compared with what was to follow later. As you can see, plastic sheeting was rolled down at the sides of the boat. This obscured our view somewhat, but rather that, than get drenched. Beach towels were handed out in case we wanted to go swimming later, and came in very useful to wrap around ourselves to keep dry whilst on board. We soon got under way, and it wasn’t long before the islands loomed up in the grey rainy mist, but even on such a gloomy day, they are still very spectacular.
We sailed up to take a closer look at the caves formed by the sea’s erosion of these amazing limestone formations.
How many images can you see clinging onto the side of this cliff? My imagination can make out so very many strange and tortured-looking creatures.
Before we reached the Sea Gypsy Village island, we were each given a thin plastic raincoat with a hood, and told to put it on, together with a life jacket. I realised why, when we transferred to our long tail boat, which was open to the elements. As we cut through the waves at quite a speed, we all got drenched. There was one young couple with a small toddler, who was obviously scared witless, and wouldn’t stop screaming. I felt sorry for them, and also for my ears, as they were sitting right behind me.
As we disembarked, we looked like a band of soaking wet, green plastic apparitions. I was past caring what I looked like, and just wanted to get inside and out of the rain.
Alas, there was no escape, as this medium sized market was absolutely flooded out. We waded ankle deep through the rivers of water which separated the different stalls, whilst rain ran in waterfalls from overhanging tarpaulins.
I couldn’t have been wetter if I’d been swimming the English Channel. I felt really sorry for the stallholders, because none of us was in a retail therapy frame of mind, as we traipsed past the displays of T-shirts, swimwear, and souvenirs.
The only sales they made, were half a dozen pink plastic raincoats at less than a Dollar each, to replace the green ones, some of which had torn already, and were leaking badly. Most of the houses here were mere hovels, but we did see quite a contrast, when we came upon a rich man’s house, alongside his poor next door neighbour’s leaky cottage.
It was quite a relief when our long boat came back to pick us up, and we were on our way to view the Grotto Cave. Our adventure was by no means over, and I’ll tell you more tomorrow.