April 28, 2019
Last night we had a singer in the Insignia lounge show. Her name is Michelle Montuori and she really reminds me of Bette Midler! Anyway, towards the end of the show, she was talking about her travels and that she had just returned from a gig on another world cruise. Then, she asked for the house lights to be raised and said that passengers on that ship asked her to give a shout out to Norm and Pat Epstein!!! Everyone was looking at us wondering “what?” She mentioned the name Darryl. Norm was wracking his brain, and I told him it was Deb and Darryl, a couple from Chambersburg who contacted me about 6 months ago for advice on world cruises and I spent time giving them our thoughts. Michelle said she promised to take a picture with us. A surprise for sure.
First I should mention that Phuket has a silent “h”. So it is pronounced “Poo-ket”. Of course we knew this but Ray, our new cruise director, made a point of it after the show last night, so people wouldn’t pronounce it wrong and be embarrassed!
Today we had booked a tour that Joyce Moore organized. We arrived in port at 7 and Joyce was smart to say we should meet in reception so we could get off the ship quickly. There were 16 of us going on this tour. We woke up to rain, but the forecast was that it was going to clear up, and sure enough it did!
We traveled by van to the Royal Thai Port. That trip took about 45 minutes. When we got to the office of the Simba sea company, they had breakfast all ready for us.
We took rain slickers and waterproof bags, but it turned out we didn’t need them at all. Jane was our guide and there was a boat captain and a mate with us too.
Our boat was a very powerful motorboat! And the captain sure revved it up! All of our destinations are in the Phang Nga Bay and it is a very big bay! It is known as one of the more unique and inspiring places on earth. The Bay was made a National Park in 1981. The area consists of more than 80 absolutely amazing islands. The limestone formations were created when a collision over 300 million years ago between the Indian subcontinent and mainland Asia’s tectonic plates forced the limestone above the water. The karst formations appear like fairy castles of all shapes and sizes. There is flora hanging off the cliffs, including palm trees, bamboo, ferns and wild orchids.
Our first stop was Kho Phanak, the mangrove cave. We were given hard hats and head lamps and Jane led us on our way into this amazing cave. We reached an open area with many mangrove trees. Jane told us, at one point while we were still in the cave, to all turn off our lights, and it was pitch black in the cave. She explained how the children who were stuck in the cave in the northern part of Thailand survived for 10 days. It was partially the water that comes down from the tops of the caves and also the fact that it was so dark and their bodies didn’t need as much food. Amazing place. We especially got lucky that it was low tide and we were able to wade into the cave.
It was also interesting to see the walking fish. These fish can both swim in the water and walk on land.
Next we went to Koh Hong for sea kayaking. Each of the inflatable kayaks had a man who did all the work so we could concentrate on the scenery. We went between and under the beautiful rock formations and into caves.
Our guide in the kayak took the pictures of us through a leaf that had a heart shaped hole in it! While paddling, he also somehow made this flower out of a brown stalk.
We returned to the boat for the trip to Koh Phing Kan and Koh Tapu (James Bond Island). This is where the movie “The Man With the Golden Gun” was filmed.
We had lunch at a restaurant right on the water. Delicious and yes, a little spicy. The waiter said they made it “European Style” – to him, not spicy at all!
We climbed into these trucks for a short tour of this island, then got back into the powerboat to our next and last destination.
Jane is showing us the rubber trees that were brought illegally to Thailand, now it is a big industry here.
We had a swim stop just across from the island with the restaurant. There is a huge sand bar here and the sand is as fine as any I have ever seen. You can see Jane serving us fruit out in the water. The snacks, drinks, etc., were served to us all day long.
These designs in the sand are made by crabs which emerge from the small holes and leave these dots of sand. Just beautiful. They could be jewelry designs.
A magnificent day with friends, food, fun and unparalleled beauty.