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.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

sany0633

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.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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,

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

sany0670
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.

Advertisements

Part two of my Phang-Nga Bay monsoon adventure.

Continuing on from my last post:

We stood in a sodden group on the jetty, impatiently waiting for our longtail to come pick us up. Here’s what these boats look like.

They are long and slim, and the local name for them is “Rua Hang Yao. 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 baby in our party, started yelling again as soon as we set off away from Sea Gypsy Village.

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 charges $1m per hit.

After skirting the tall thin island,

we carried on to the Grotto Cave, and our boat sailed right through it, next to several people canoeing in the pouring rain.

Finally, we met up with our Junk boat again, and clambered aboard. Oh the luxury, in spite of the leaky roof! At last we were reunited with our towels, and could wrap ourselves up in them, 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. Our guide, knowing that we came from South Africa, apologised for the wine, saying, ” I know it’s not nearly as good as yours,” and he was right about that. 😉

On our return journey, we caught up with the other boat which had left the harbour at the same time as us. They weren’t going anywhere, as they’d completely run out of diesel. It was still a long way back to port, so our crew set about fixing up a tow line, and we started off once more, amidst much hilarity and joking between the two crews.

It was now going to take us much longer to get back with the extra load on, but I suppose we could hardly leave them stranded, could we? 😉 About half an hour later, 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 and a large plastic container. They were hauled aboard, and up came the floor boards, so that diesel could be syphoned into the empty 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.


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 boatmanship, and I was most impressed.

So all’s well that ends well, I suppose. We caught the rush hour traffic, made worse by the pouring rain, on the way back to Club Med, but eventually arrived about an hour late. As we pulled up, some of the young staff came rushing down the the steps to greet us with fresh towels to warm ourselves in, and then ushered us over to the sofas in the foyer, where they had cups of hot chocolate waiting. What a day it had been, and a never to be forgotten trip.

This all happened on Wednesday, and it’s been raining steadily since then, with the exception of a few hours this afternoon. I hope the weekend will bring the sunshine again, not only for me, but for all of you too. Have a great one.