WPC: My Saturated Phuket Boat Trip


When I saw that this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is ‘saturated’, I was reminded of a boat trip we did last year when we were on holiday in Phuket. We expected to have the same great weather we enjoyed whilst there in 2006, but unfortunately, Mother Nature decided otherwise. On this most memorable day, we were booked on a cruise, which was to 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, supposedly arriving back at 5-30 in the afternoon.

After an early breakfast during which we  dubiously surveyed the deep grey skies and dripping rain through the dining room windows, we clambered into our minibus. 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.

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By the time we got on board, it was teeming down, and I was already quite saturated. 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 wasn’t too happy about that, but as it turned out, this was to be the least of our problems. 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, which wasn’t going to happen, but they came in very useful to wrap around ourselves against the wind and rain. We soon got under way, and it wasn’t long before the islands loomed up in the grey rainy mist. Even on such a gloomy day, they were still spectacular.

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We sailed up to take a closer look at the caves formed by the sea’s erosion of these amazing limestone formations.

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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 absolutely open to the elements. As we cut through the waves at quite a speed, we all got a thorough drenching. One young couple had brought along their small child, who was obviously scared witless, and wouldn’t stop screaming. I felt really sorry for them, but more so for myself, as they were sitting right behind me.

As we disembarked, we looked like a band of soaking wet, green plastic apparitions. My clothes were saturated and clinging to my body, but I was past caring. I just wanted to get inside and out of the rain.

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Alas, there was no escaping the wetness, as this medium-sized market was absolutely flooded out.

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We waded ankle-deep through the rivers of water which gushed along the walkways, whilst rain ran in waterfalls from overhanging tarpaulins.

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I couldn’t have been wetter if I’d been swimming the English Channel. The understandably glum-faced stallholders were not in luck that day, as none of us was in a ‘retail therapy’ frame of mind as we paddled doggedly past the displays of T-shirts, swimwear and souvenirs.

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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.

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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.

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It was the most unenjoyable shopping expedition I’d ever embarked upon. We stood in a soddenly saturated group on the jetty, impatiently waiting for our longtail to come pick us up, to take us to view the Grotto Cave. These longtails, or ‘Rua hang Yao’ are so-called because they are long and slim. They have a long rod in the back of the boat, which holds up the motor and the propeller, and are extremely noisy, sounding more like dragster racing cars. No wonder the air was once again saturated with screams from the terrified baby, as we gathered speed.

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We gratefully waved goodbye to the saturated Sea Gypsy Village, and I wondered what it must be like to live there all the year round, especially in the monsoon season.

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We were all hungry, and soaking wet as we journeyed to view James Bond Island, made famous by the 1974 movie, “The man with the golden gun,” starring Roger Moore as Bond, and Christopher Lee as Scaramanga the world’s most expensive assassin, who charged $1m per hit.

We skirted the tall thin island,

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and carried on to the Grotto Cave, Our boat sailed right through it, next to several people out canoeing in the pouring rain. They seemed to be quite enjoying the rain, so I thought I’d better just learn to like it too.

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Finally, we met up with our Junk boat again, and clambered aboard. Oh the luxury in spite of the leaky roof, to be reunited with our towels which we could wrap ourselves up in, as well as dry off our feet. A buffet lunch of fish, chicken, rice and salad was served, together with a couple of bottles of Thai wine, which did warm us up a little.

It felt good to know that we’d soon be back at our resort, and able to have a hot shower before dinner. Unfortunately, we caught up with another boat which had left the harbour at the same time as us. They’d completely run out of diesel, and it was still a long way back to port, so our crew had to set about fixing up a tow line, and we started off once more, amidst much hilarity and joking between the two crews.

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Of course it was now going to take us much longer to get back with the extra load on, but we could hardly leave them stranded, could we?  We’d been towing them for about half an hour, when we noticed something was banging against the side of our boat, and a head popped up over the side. No, it wasn’t pirates, just the other boat’s motor dinghy, with two of its crew carrying a large plastic container. They were hauled aboard, and up came the trap door, so that diesel could be syphoned from our tank into the container, as they needed to be able to maneuver their own way into the harbour. Once they had the required 20 litres, off they went back through the extremely rough waves to their own boat.

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We were all watching this exercise with our fingers crossed, as it was really very tempestuous out there. They made it back on board, but as they were trying to secure the dinghy, the rope slipped out of the one guy’s hands, and off went the little craft, bobbing merrily away through the waves. Once more, our captain came to the rescue, rounding up the dinghy, almost like herding cattle, and pushing it over to the other boat, until a man could jump in and tie it up. It was quite an expert bit of seamanship, and I was most impressed.

The adventure ended well, I suppose. Once back on ‘dry’ land, the rush hour traffic was made even worse by the pouring rain, but we eventually arrived at our resort about an hour late, to be greeted by the staff, who wrapped us up in thick towels and handed us cups of hot chocolate. What a day it had been, and a never to be forgotten trip.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my saturated tale, even though it’s maybe not quite what Michelle had in mind. I did saturate some of the more colourful pics, which makes them look more cheerful. 🙂

To see more bloggers’ interpretations of the theme, just click here.

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95 comments on “WPC: My Saturated Phuket Boat Trip

  1. I knew you were a tough one. This looks like a total disaster – not talking about your photographic ability of course. You have even made me smile with your narrative. Bless you, Sylvia 🙂

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  4. What a day! Actually, you do look just fine soaked or not! And the photos are great. Must be a waterproof camera. I was cold all the way through the post. 🙂 Good sports, you guys are.

  5. he adventure within the adventure. A very exciting and unexpected day for you. A would have been whining. I don’t like to be cold. I would have been crying like the baby. I’m glad you managed to get some photos despite the rain. You are a much braver gal than me. Fun post … for us to read.

    • Thanks so much, Izzy. It was a great adventure really. I think that when things start to go wrong, there’s a point at which you just have to say,”Okay, I’m just going to enjoy this, whatever happens. ” 🙂

  6. Sometimes its just the little things that can bring such comfort, such as “being reunited with your towels,” as you perfectly stated. This was a really engrossing post to read, and the segments where your boat rescued the other one had an aura of a Marx Brothers or Keystone Cops slapstick adventure. Of course at the time it wasn’t funny, but in retrospect it was so entertaining. When you mentioned the word “pirates” my adrenaline kicked in!

  7. Wow! Misadventure really does equate to an adventure.
    I never had problems with the weather whenever I travel. I had some – a drizzle of rain in Santa Barbara and one in Philippine during transport. That’s pretty much I can remember. Other than that, the weather gods have been so cooperative with me when I’m sightseeing. 😀 *knock on wood*
    Oh hey! Good thing your camera still worked the entire time.I would be so reluctant to take pictures when it’s raining. I guess when you’re n Thailand, it won’t matter. 😀

  8. now this truly tells a saturated tale! those poor people/vendors in the rain and of course, the tourists! had a chuckle with the image of you and screaming child on the boat. Oooo. ouch on the ears! maybe next time you visit it will be without rain. that would be nice. 🙂

    • Glad you enjoyed my soggy tale. We’ve been to Phuket twice; once in fantastic weather, and the last time, as you read, in quite awful weather. I think we’ll let it rest there for now at least. 😉

  9. Wow! What a wet tale! There have to be a few trips like that to make the others so enjoyable. Even so, it makes that one memorable. I don’t think I’ve ever been outside in that much rain. (At least on purpose and for an extended period of time.) Loved the story! Glad you survived! 🙂

  10. I loved your saturated story… this must still go down in your travel stories as one you will remember for a long time to come… more of an adventure than a touristy type tour… I think it must have end as being quite exciting…

  11. Now that was one wet day Sylvia but the shots are beautiful! I love the boats and all those colours! Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing hon. 😀 *hugs*

  12. Your description of the day was well saturated with wet dripping sounds. I can just imagine the misery of being cold and wet. But you had an adventure and a tale to tell. I’m impressed with the captain’s skill or the tale could have ended up badly.

    • So true, Lynne. It could have ended very badly, as I don’t think those boats are really not meant for stormy waters. At the time, I didn’t think of the danger, only the discomfort, which is probably a good thing, or I would have been petrified, like that screaming baby. 🙂

  13. Such amazing adventures you have, but you gracefully take it all in stride (at least seem to)! Seems like a requirement when traveling to strange lands.

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  15. You captured the feeling of being in a deluge. I loved your water protectors – the latest fashion and so welcome! I remember when I saw that particular 007 movie. I was overawed by the beauty. It must have been spectacular to experience it first hand! WOW!!!

    • Thanks, Rebecca. I’m so glad that you noticed and commented on my fashionable attire. Those raincoats weren’t much better than cling film. The more overweight people, tore them just putting them on. You’re so right about the beauty of this place. I’ve been fortunate enough to see it in idyllic weather too. 🙂

  16. Saturated for sure, I guess tropical weather is unpredictable…You took some wonderful photos of the cliffs and mountains!

  17. I was lucky whe I went to Phuket and some other islands, the weather was fantastic nad we had no problems anywhere. Phuket itself was too touristy I found, the other little island wasn’t at all. I do remember the most beautiful sunset and the biggest spider I have seen in my life. Still I did sleep in the bed in that hut where ihad seen it. Thailand is certainly an adventure. Your pictures are great

  18. Not what Michelle had in mind, but a tale thoroughly enjoyed. What a pity it rained so much. I wouldn’t like to experience rain like that often as the people who live there do.

  19. Not many people get to have a holiday like that..what an adventure….but maybe because it was the monsoon season you have to make allowances…. but I would say that your tale of woe is as good an example as I have ever read of being saturated….just happy that it was your experience and not mine !!!!

  20. 🙂 I remember when you first blogged on this. Reminds me of a stay in the Maldives where it rained so much in 24 hours they were thinking of evacuating the island in case it disappeared under water!

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