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.

Junk boat and longtail, across Phang-Nga Bay, in monsoon rains.

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.