May 13, 2023
This is our third country in three days! Indonesia, Malaysia and now Thailand. And it will be that way for a while now as we sail around southeast Asia.
Last night we were invited to dinner with Dottie, our cruise director, her husband Tom (who will be performing his comedy after we start the next segment of the cruise in Singapore), Bengt Washburn, a guest entertainer who did his comedy – we really enjoyed him – and Dennis and Cle, friends who have been on every world cruise with us. We had a great time, and of course, I forgot to take pictures because we were chatting so much.
Here are some of the pictures as we sailed in to port.
Today our excursion was snorkeling at Koh Khai. Our guide was Hadi (actually his name is much longer and more complicated in Thai, so he told us to call him Hadi!)
The drive to the Phuket boat harbor was about 40 minutes and Hadi gave us lots of information about Phuket. We have been here three times before so we knew some of the information, but we always learn something new. Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and has a population of about 500,000. It is located in the Andaman Seal and is part of a group of 32 smaller islands. The island is mostly mountainous. 80% of the population is Buddhist. There are 6 international schools on the island which points to how many people are not from here. Before Covid, Hadi said they got 36,000 tourists a day. Tourism is the main economic driver here. It hasn’t yet gotten back up to that level.
An interesting fact that we heard from Dottie on board and from Hadi – tomorrow is election day in Thailand and we will be here overnight. They do not allow any drinking of alcohol from 6 PM today and all through tomorrow, election day. Maybe we should recommend that for the US!
The boat lagoon has a lot of nice boats and this attractive lighthouse. It also has some fishing shacks.
We boarded a boat for the group of 18 and went to the first of the two snorkeling spots. Here are some pictures of the group and of the small islands near the snorkeling spot.
Again, I tried to use the underwater camera but without much luck. The visibility was not good and the fish were much too quick. I got some of the coral and a few fish but seeing the pictures was really nothing like the view underwater. But I am sharing a few anyway. One interesting thing here is that there are several metal grids in the area and coral is beginning to grow on them. We were happy to see that.
After an hour of snorkeling, we moved to a nearby beach where we got off the boat and onto a lovely fine white sandy beach. Here we had umbrellas and beach chairs. The place is the Koh Yao Sea Farm. We could purchase drinks and food here, so I had a margarita but we didn’t get any food. We could swim or snorkel here so I took the opportunity to snorkel. It was pretty rocky until I got out quite far. The coral was not as nice but there were quite a few fish.
It was 91 degrees here today and very humid as well. The beach was pretty nice but when we left to go back to the ship, I don’t think anyone wanted to stay out any longer.
On the way back, Hadi and the crew served us cold fresh watermelon and pineapple and it was delicious! They also kept us hydrated with cold water and Cokes all day long. Here are some of our fellow snorkelers enjoying the watermelon.
Just before getting back to the dock, we passed a mangrove area with many monkeys that were jumping and playing. Hadi threw some of the watermelon rind out to them – perhaps that was what they were waiting for!
On the way back to the ship, I took some pictures of the guardian spirit houses that most Buddhists build outside their homes and businesses . They believe that protector spirits live in these houses. We passed by pretty quickly so the photos aren’t that good but I wanted to show some examples. They can be pretty elaborate or simple and people put offerings of food, flowers, water or other items out every day.
There are many motorcycles here and Hadi said that most people have one. 80% of their cars are Japanese. They are quite costly here because there is a 200% tax on both cars and motorcycles.
We haven’t decided what we will do tomorrow and Hadi gave us lots of directions to town, shopping areas, restaurants, beaches, shows, etc. I guess we will decide on it tomorrow, or maybe just have a restful day on the ship?
Yes, it is a lot more fun to see the fishes and coral in the water than on picture. We also lose the atmosphere. Lok and I actual lived in Bangkok for two weeks with two South African friends: Maggie and Reg. Lucky for us, Maggie grew up in Bangkok. She took us exploring all surrounding areas of interest, this of course included a picnic lunch on the Island of Phuket. We even ventured up to the Burmese border on Elephant to see the Long neck tribe people. On subsequent visits cruising via Insignia , we saw quite a different Bangkok.
Thank you for sharing your experience. Say hello to Dennis and Cle, Lok and I have cruised with them twice before as well.
Always enjoy the photos and historical info. Continue the fun journey