day fifty-nine: november 27, 2015: chiang mai to phuket
We said goodbye to Chiang Mai and made our way to Phuket, where we booked a sailing trip over the next couple of days with our best friends, Hajime and Maily. Jonathan found Charter Catamarans after a lot of google searching online. Bob, an Australian who now lives in Thailand, owns the business and was very easy to work with and extremely helpful. He coordinated everything for us including the hotel the night before setting sail and also the airport transfers.
day sixty: november 28, 2015:
We boarded our new home, a catamaran named Oasis, and started our 5 day/4 night sail around Phang Nga Bay with our captain, Bao, and our cook, Nong.
Not too long after boarding the boat, we made our first stop at Ko Hae (Coral Island). Bao started tossing over pieces of bread into the water and there were dozens of fish coming up to the surface. Maily and I were happy observing from a good distance but the boys had bananas to the feed to the fish and it was just so cool to see all the fish swarm around them just to get what they could. We then made our way to Ko Racha Yai further south for some more snorkeling, fish feeding and to spend the night.
Previous to the trip, the weather forecasts had worried us, with forecasted thunderstorms the entire time we were to be on the boat. We were pleasantly surprised that we were able to dodge the rain most of the time and we were even treated to some awesome sunsets and sunrises.
On our first night we discovered that Nong was an incredible cook. That night we had tom yum soup, green curry and a squid dish. This meal set the stage for the rest of the trip. Let's just say, that we looked forward to every time Nong would yell KIN KAO!!! which means the food is ready in Thai.
day sixty-one: november 29, 2015:
Jonathan doesn't like to miss a sunrise, so he set his alarm bright and early for just before 6AM. It's always easier to watch the sunrise when all you have to do is poke your head out a hatch in the ceiling of your room to see if it's worth getting up for.
From Ko Racha Yai we headed north to Ko Mai Thon for some more snorkeling. The seas were rough in the morning as the winds were blowing one direction and the tides moving in the opposite direction. I was laying on the nets in the front of the catamaran and got tossed by a wave and soaked in the process. The same wave went straight into the hatch above our room sadly soaking our bed. Thankfully, we were able to easily dry them as we sailed during the day.
Next, we headed to Koh Khai Nok next to its sister island Ko Kaynock, sometimes referred to as Egg Island. This island is the end of many day tours and Bao told us that in high season sometimes there are so many people on its beach that you can barely see the sand from a distance. We hooked up to a buoy off the shore of Koh Khai Nok where there was a small restaurant. We set off in the kayaks to get to shore. We decided to call this couple's disaster island. As we came ashore, Jonathan jumped out of the kayak and tried to help me out. The water began to rush back out and a small wave overturned the kayak throwing me into the sand. Not a very pleasant experience, but we made it ashore! Hajime and Maily had a similar experience. After having some drinks and snacks we went to launch our kayaks. Thankfully we made it out safely. Hajime and Maily, however, didn't have such luck. As they launched into the water the boat turned parallel to the beach and flipped again and Maily got soaked and their GoPro went straight to the bottom. Thankfully, Bao saw they had lost something and as soon as we made it back to the boat he jumped in the kayak and paddled over to help them. After beaching his kayak he found the GoPro without a problem. Not sure how it was able to find it so quickly, but maybe that's what makes him the captain.
We headed a little further for safe harbor to spend the night off the coast of Ko Yao Yai.
day sixty-two: november 30, 2015:
In the morning we sailed around the north end of Ko Yao Yai and headed thru the channel between Ko Yao Yai and Ko Yao Noi toward Ko Hong. Ko Hong has an enclosed lagoon on its north side. We hooked up to a buoy immediately outside the entry into the lagoon. After some short snorkeling, we got into the kayaks and decided to explore.
More excellent food from Nong. This time fresh spring rolls and pad see ew and salad.
To the right of the entry to the lagoon is a small beach with a explorable cave area. Bao lead the way and we climbed up into a small opening that came out above the beach. Pretty cool!
After some more snorkeling, Jonathan climbed up some hanging ladders and jumped from the cliffs above. After his attempts, some more tourist boats showed up and a whole crew of people started climbing and jumping. One guy climbed very high up above the end of the ladder and did a very graceful slow backflip. Another captain asked Bao where he was headed and he told him where we had been that day and our next stop. The other captain asked, "Why so many places?" and Bao replied "Why not?" Awesome response!
On our way to Railay Beach (our stop for the night), we stopped at Ko Poda for some more snorkeling and fish feeding.
At Railay we enjoyed another great sunset and more amazing food from Nong. After dinner Bao took us ashore for a few hours. We sat on the beach and enjoyed some beers and snacks.
Tonight's dinner was soup, a squid dish and two chicken dishes.
day sixty-three: december 1, 2015: railay beach to koh phi phi
Today was Jonathan's birthday and Maily made this sweet sign for the boat! We woke up just after sunrise and watched fishermen drive their long tail boat in circles, casting their nets and repeatedly slapping the surface of the water to stun the fish and drive them into their trap. Below is a video that Maily took. Make sure you listen for Hajime's commentary! Its worth it. Bao called them over and we traded some ice cold water bottles for a few fresh fish for lunch!
Fresh egg omelettes filled with veggies and sausage was for breakfast today.
After breakfast we boarded the dingy and headed ashore to take a peek at Diamond Cave. On the way we came across some local monkeys just hanging out and chewing on electrical lines. The cave was actually more impressive than we had expected. You could also hear and see bats hanging out on the roof of the cave.
Today we discovered that the boat had a shade that could be set up. This was quite a relief for Hajime's lobster red body.
We made our way to Chicken and Tupa Island to check out a sand bar, only visible at low tide. It was pretty cool to walk across, until you realized that you had to walk the whole length back -- walking in water near waist deep is a lot harder and tiring that you think!
Today's lunch was fried fish cakes, a squid dish and fried rice.
We made another short snorkeling stop at two small islands Ko Po Da Nok and Ko Khom.
Our next stop was Bamboo Island, where Nong warned us that there would be a lot of Chinese tourists. And literally, the second that we walked onto the beach, Hajime said that it felt like we just walked to China. Everyone there was 98% Chinese, all taking pictures laying in the sand, women in coordinated outfits with matching scarves, people buried in sand and everyone laughing because of the body parts they made out of sand...so thought we would join in on the fun and take some pictures of our own. Who knew that Bamboo Island was going to be so fun to people watch!
We made our way to Koh Phi Phi, which was our last night with Hajime and Maily and Nong made some of the best pork tenderloin we ever had. We were also treated to a nice partial rainbow and sunset.
We spent the rest of the night playing Settlers of Catan -- which I won both times, whohooo! Then, laid out on the nets and just talking until the early morning.
day sixty-four: december 2, 2015: koh phi phi to phuket
Our last sunrise on the boat was awesome. We shared one last delicious meal of khao tom (rice porridge) with shrimp with Hajime and Maily, before leaving them at Koh Phi Phi. We were super bummed to see them go but know we'll see them soon!
Jonathan and I continued on to Phuket with Nong and Bao for the next four hours...and even got to see a few dolphins in the distance.
day sixty-five: december 3, 2015: phuket to lombok
Jonathan and I spent the night at Ao Chalong Resort and relaxed by the pool before heading out the next morning to Lombok, Indonesia. Another full day of travel thanks to Jonathan's flight booking skills.