The Hard

The expression “being on the hard” is quite appropriate. It is not a pleasant experience, to say the least. Boats belong in the water. That’s what they’re designed for. But once in a while, they have to come out for some much needed maintenance, a hull inspection, new anti-fouling, …

This is the fourth time in four years that we’ve hauled. I vividly remember our first haul in Grenada. The yard was dusty and dirty and it was stifling hot with no breeze; mosquitoes were breeding in the stream next to the boat and the streetlight next to Rehua would attract them into our cockpit. We ended up waiting for more than three weeks on new parts, suffering the mosquitoes, dust and heat and driving each other mad. But eventually parts arrived, we went back in the water and life was good again. Despite it being a gorgeous lush spice island, Grenada will always bring back those unhappy memories of being on the hard for too long.

The second time was in New Zealand, where the job of anti-fouling ended up taking more than double the estimated time due to the inexperience of the workmen (in one of the top yards near Auckland). Our New Zealand experience was disappointing and very expensive and we were on the hard for over a month. We were very lucky to have some amazing friends with a beautiful house in Auckland who let us stay with them the entire time. Seathan slept on the boat most nights, in order to cut the commute and get an early start, but it made a huge difference that the kids and I weren’t there.

We also had a brief haul-out in the “Wild West” that are the Solomon Islands. Despite it being a less developed country with very little yachting infrastructure, it was probably the most pleasant experience so far. True, we were out of the water for a few days only and ‘all’ we had to do was replace our props. We used a commercial yard that normally only services large local boats. We couldn’t stay onboard (Rehua was on the rails and sitting at an angle) but only a few 100 metres away was a lovely hotel owned by our friends Bob and Yvie. It made the entire experience totally tolerable.

So, two years after New Zealand, Rehua is due another paint job. We’ve been checking out yards for the last six months in Thailand and Malaysia and have finally settled for Rebak Marina in Langkawi. The yards we saw in Thailand had more expertise but were more expensive. Seathan decided to do most of the work himself so after much debate and research we decided Rebak was our best option. Why (and this is going to sound funny): because of the pool. Yep, Rebak has an amazing pool. The marina is situated on a small private island which also boasts a five-star resort. The marina guests have full use of the pool and other facilities. There are nature walks and tracks and the kids can roam around as much as they want. Seriously, when living on the hard, it’s really important to have some good facilities available. You don’t want to spend any time inside the boat unless you have to. Having to climb up and down the ladder each time, battling the heat and mosquitoes, having to keep all the hatches closed all day because of the dust: the kids and I try and stay out most of the day. We do school lessons in the airy shaded communal area that is the yachties’ cafe. We hang out by the pool in the afternoon or play on the beach. In the evening it usually cools down a bit and we can open our hatches and eat on the boat.

The other (probably even more important) reason we chose Rebak is because there are other kid boats around. You can’t imagine how ecstatic the boys were when they heard there would be similar aged boys and girls around. We didn’t see any other kid boats for nearly a year and all of a sudden they pop up all around us. It’s fantastic!

“So how long will we be out of the water for?” I ask Seathan as we are getting ready for our haul-out on the agreed morning.

“One week, maybe two, it’s hard to know until I can check the state of the paint once she’s out,” he says.

“Fair enough, maybe we can be back in the water before the end of the month,” I suggest.

I’m forever the optimist. He’s more cautious and won’t make any promises…

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ready to lift with only a few centimetres each side to spare

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keeping a close check on things

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quick bottom wash

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parking job

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the pool at Rebak, not too shabby!

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not 2, not 3 but 4 kid-boats in town!

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football in the rain

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school in the cafe

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on the hard

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Ko Lipe, Southern Thailand

I was on Ko Lipe 22 years ago, in 1996, on a sailing holiday with my parents, and I can’t describe to you how much the place has changed. There was no tourism back then. Just a few yachts and a few backpacker-type places. Just a couple of shacks on the beach offering simple but delicious Thai food. Just one path through the jungle and one village school.

Now, the island is all ‘hippy-chique-ecofriendly-trendy-relaxed’. There are several resorts and a busy main street called ‘Walking Street’ with plenty of cool restaurants, coffee shops, bars, tattoo places, massage salons, etc. But… it is still a lovely small island, only reachable by yacht or by ferry. And it has some of the best corals and fish we’ve seen in Thailand.

Ko Lipe is only a short hop away from Langkawi (25 nautical miles) and great for a quick visa-run if necessary. Southern Thailand has a lot to offer: plenty of gorgeous islands, clear turquoise water, great snorkelling, lovely beaches, … The wet season hasn’t yet arrived but the tourist stream has slowed down so it’s just the perfect time to visit.

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Welcome to Ko Lipe!

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View towards Pattaya beach from Walking Street

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Walking Street

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yummy Thai food

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Sunrise beach and some very turquoise water

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no filter!

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dinghy ride

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Our water-maker broke and it’s not fixable until we get new parts, so we’ve had to fill up with 20x 20L jugs. We’re lucky the island has cheap filtered drinking water available!

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loading up the dinghy

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and into the tanks, it’s a team effort

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the boys with their friends from s/v Ellida

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art class on Rehua

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the parking lot on sunset beach

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kids’ table

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and the adults

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all together, and smile!

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sunset view from the restaurant

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movie star kids, they’re used to this after Indo

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getting ready for a drift-snorkel

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view from the cockpit, we’ve been treated to the most amazing sunsets 

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Back again

We’re in Malaysia (again). After trying the main town anchorage in Kuah, and realising it was all mud with very bad holding, we decided to head into the marina. The marina is very affordable and it makes provisioning so much easier. You can just walk down the pontoon with the shopping and load it onto the boat. No dinghy landings and tricky passing of bags involved! And it’s worthwile to do a big top-up here. Langkawi is a duty-free island and that includes fuel, alcohol, electronic goods, boat parts, etc. Even groceries are noticeably cheaper than in Thailand. So, we’ve done a big stock-up which should last us a few months at least.

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beautiful Langkawi

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the anchorage in Telaga, on the Western tip

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being in the marina makes provisioning so much easier!

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loading up

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quick dip in the marina pool

On the way out of Thailand, we stopped in a few more islands. There are plenty of gorgeous anchorages in the Southern Andaman Sea and we chose just a couple more after our brief stop in Ko Phi Phi Lee: Ko Rok Nok and Ko Lipe.

Ko Rok Nok was peaceful and quiet, with good snorkelling, despite the cloud cover. The island also has an ancient shrine where worshippers for centuries used to come and pray for their fertility. There are huge carved penises and some other offerings. Bit weird, but funny.

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the anchorage in Ko Rok Nok and a great beach to run wild on

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the shrine is hidden between these rocks

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strange carvings

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colourful offerings

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obligatory writing in the sand

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lots of colourful fish

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lobster

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some good corals

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colourful nudibranch

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met this cute clownfish family too

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Ko Rok Nok sunset

We also stopped in Ko Ha before reaching Ko Rok Nok and wanted to stop for lunch and do some snorkelling, but were stopped by the Rangers who wanted a disproportionate sum of money for the privilege of anchoring there for a few hours. So we left…

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Ko Ha

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interesting formations

Our last stop in Thailand was in Ko Lipe, a beautiful small island, part of the National Tarutao Marine Park. We didn’t snorkel but had a lovely swim and admired a gorgeous sunset. The next morning we continued to Langkawi which was less than a day-sail away.

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Ko Adang, just north of Ko Lipe

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another gorgeous sunset, we just can’t resist taking one more sunset photo

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and then it turns all pink

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gorgeous colours

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Ko Lipe

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Ko Lipe

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view over the anchorage in the passage between Ko Lipe and Ko Adang

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early morning and we’re off to Langkawi

So where to next? We might explore Langkawi for a bit, we may head back to Thailand for another month. We also like the idea of heading to Sumatra where the surf season soon starts. Other options are to head back towards Singapore and explore the Anambas Islands, Borneo, Brunei,… so many options, not enough time!

 

 

Take me to the Beach!

We finally and eventually managed to extract ourselves from Phuket and found ourselves spending a night in Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi Lee. The place became famous after the movie ‘The Beach” with Leonardo Di Caprio was filmed here. We had passed this busy bay on the way up but hadn’t stopped. It was too early in the afternoon that time and we literally couldn’t get through the traffic, so we had continued to Ko Phi Phi Don (the next island) instead, that time. But now we had timed it more careful and arrived around 5pm, just as the last sets of tourists were getting ready to leave. There was one other yacht inside and, guess what, we knew them! It was great to see our friends on Impetuous Too. They had been to Langkawi and were on their way back to Krabi. One more yacht arrived and picked up one of the moorings and then the sun set and all went quiet. Apart from a bit of a short swell that made us roll around in the early evening, we had a pretty comfortable night. No lie-ins were to be had though (except for Aeneas, who sleeps through anything); as soon as it became light the first noisy local long-tails turned up and not much after that the first fast ferries. I had a quick snorkel and was surprised to see there were still so many fish, despite the noise and crowds. We didn’t stay and left, still sipping our morning coffees. Off to somewhere quieter!

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approaching Ko Phi Phi Lee

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Ko Phi Phi Don, the next island, where the hotels, shops and restaurants are 

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Ko Phi Phi Lee is uninhabited

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this yacht is on its way to Maya bay too, we met them later on

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soaking it all up

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with The Beach in the background

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tourists are leaving at the end of the afternoon

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admiring the sunset

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red sky at night, sailor’s delight

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early morning and they’re back

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bye bye, we’re off to somewhere quieter!

 

Old Friends!

I love it when friends happen to turn up exactly when we are in the area, totally by coincidence. And not just one but two sets of friends turned up in the last week. We had a lot of fun going for a day-sail, hanging on and around the boat and lazing by the pool in their resort whilst catching up on the last few years since we saw each other. I can definitely recommend the beautiful resort our friends Dan and Naz were staying at (Anantara Layan) as it was absolutely gorgeous, peaceful and super-stylish with an amazing upscale Thai restaurant (dinner was an experience!). We will miss Phuket and our friends… we’ll be back!

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playing the ukelele while sailing along the coast

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lunch at sea

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We gave Patong a miss

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Bangtao is much nicer!

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sunset photos on the foredeck

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sunset glow

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catching up with Matt, Wendy and Ellie

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2 northerners and 1 Scott, oh oh

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obligatory foredeck selfie

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morning coffee with Dan and Naz

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kids loved the pool

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the gorgeous and quiet Anantara resort at Layan beach

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ready for Songkran, Thai New Year, this buddhist festival traditionally turns into a giant water-fight, nobody is spared!

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water-fight in the pool

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Aeneas got hold of the hose…

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We had an amazing dinner. This little amuse-gueule definitely got our taste buds going; you had to make a tiny basket out of the beetle leave and fill it up with nuts, chillies, ginger,  pickled lime, shallots, dried seabass and coconut jam and then put the entire thing in your mouth. Spectacular.

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Cheers!

Good Times

We just love Thailand. Comfortable anchorages with lovely sandy beaches make for a great daily routine, starting off with a swim or a SUP to the beach early morning, followed by school, lunch and then another trip to the beach in the afternoon. It’s just perfect. The locals are friendly, the food is great (and cheap) and you can have a super-duper 1-hour massage on the beach for 250 baht (£5/$8). The weather’s been dry and breezy although the first squalls started appearing in the last few days. Perhaps it’s a sign that the seasons will be changing soon?

Thailand has also been great to get some key items ticked off our to-do list. We installed a new chart plotter (thanks Paul!) and a new VHF radio (the old one was unfixable) and upgraded our cockpit with new cushions and newly upholstered helmseats. We had our rigging inspected (all good) and finally also installed new trampolines. Not a bad set of achievements!

We could easily stay here longer but unfortunately our visas are running out soon. So, it’s back to Langkawi (with a few islands stops on the way) and then we’ll see where the wind takes us next. But first, we still have a very important birthday to celebrate…

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early morning SUP to the beach

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daily swim

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fitting the new trampolines

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final tweaking 

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our ‘new’ cockpit

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very luxurious!

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new helmseat

The Shoal

We’ve had so many little fish under our boat here in Naiharn, Phuket. They are beautiful to watch and make a great subject for some cool underwater shots…

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thousands (millions?) tiny baitfish

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Aeneas jumps in amongst the fish, feet first (picture by Tyrii)

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can barely see the hull

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fish confetti 

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fishbowl

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There’s also a short video of this amazing fishbowl which we put on YouTube:

Phuket

It’s been a while since the last blog… but, yes, we are still in Phuket. We’re anchored at Naiharn beach, a lovely and quiet bay with no jet skis or noisy long-tails around. We’re rather enjoying our time here and just getting on with life as we know it: school in the morning, boat jobs, some swimming and time on the beach in the afternoon and of course the odd trip into town. Not a bad situation! The weather continues to be dry and breezy but we’ve noticed a slight change over the last few days, the humidity is rising every so slightly and there are definitely a few clouds gathering on the horizon… I wonder how much longer we have before the SW monsoon season arrives?

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Naiharn bay

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Windmill viewpoint

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Rehua is somewhere on the right

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and another gorgeous sunset!

As usual, and this is the same for every boat owner, we have a long list of jobs to do. One of them is to replace our trampolines which had some wear and tear. So, we dropped them off at Rolly Tasker the other day. They are the largest purpose-built sail loft in the world, very impressive. We’re also getting our cockpit seats re-upholstered in one of the local shops we found during a walk around town. Great value for money in this part of the world. And very good craftsmanship.

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Rehua sans tramps

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makes for a great jumping off platform!

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Rolly Tasker, the largest purpose-built sail loft in the world

During our last trip into town, we stopped off at Wat Chalong. It’s a beautiful temple and a great photo opportunity with all its rich colours and sparkling gold statues. I love the positive vibes you get at a buddhist temple, feeling happy and peaceful when you walk out!

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Wat Chalong in Phuket

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sun behind the temple

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entrance to the main temple

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lots of buddhas

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colourful murals

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what a funny face

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and a scary one

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beautiful light flowing in

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view at the top

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view over Phuket

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more buddhas

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the temple has 3 levels

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playing with light

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the donations box

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little angels

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one of the other temples in the complex, all colourful and sparkling with gold

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inside the temple

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the gardens are gorgeous too

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cute elephant hedge

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that’s it for now!

 

Life’s a beach 🏖

Well, we’re certainly not complaining about the weather here. We’re experiencing a lovely dry heath, with a refreshing afternoon breeze and relatively cool nights. Long may it last!

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Nui beach, probably the cutest beach on Phuket

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digging never gets boring

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Nui beach

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fun boulders to climb on

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kids returning from the beach

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another day, another beach: Bangtao

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surfing behind the dinghy

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he makes it look so easy

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Aeneas on the board

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meanwhile, Oma and Opa are taking it easy

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lovely time catching up with my parents

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then it’s back to Naiharn beach

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and we went snorkelling;  the coral and fishes are healthier than I expected

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another gorgeous Phuket sunset …

Back in civilisation…

We’re back in civilisation, there’s no doubt about that! We’ve been in Phuket for a few weeks now and it’s like being back in the Med during the height of summer. It is super-busy, tourists everywhere, hour-long traffic jams, packed beaches, restaurants and shops galore, busy anchorages and there is no space in any of the marinas. That last one doesn’t bother us so much, we prefer to be at anchor anyway. But, sometimes, it is useful to nip into a marina for one or two nights in order to organise and arrange some work. And, after having been in “the wild” for two years, we do need quite a few things done to the boat! In fact, the list is quite long: rigging inspection and potential replacement, cushions re-upholstery, canvas work, polishing, anti-fouling, etc. etc.

After pulling some strings and using a few connections, we managed to book two nights in the Boat Lagoon Marina and organised several companies to come and discuss the work we need doing, measure up and prepare a quote. We’ll see what comes back and then decide and plan the work. We might nip out to the islands for a bit first.

Phuket also has very good hospitals and dentists, so it’s not just the boat that’s getting a check-up! Dental and skin checks, eye tests, … We’ve been to one of the hospitals in town and were extremely impressed with the quality of service at a very affordable price. No waiting list or queue there!

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catching up with the grandparents onboard Rehua

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Taxi Tyrii

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fun on the beach

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visit to the big buddha

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it’s big …

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view from the top over Phuket

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view over Chalong

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the anchorage at Chalong with the big buddha on the top of the hill

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getting ready for dinghy sailing lessons

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and they’re off!

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Tyrii in action

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Chalong sunset

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next stop: Kamala where Opa and Oma are waiting for us

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the surf is too big to land the dinghy so we anchor it instead

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but of course that same surf is fun to play in!

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entering Boat Lagoon Marina

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and it’s hot in the marina… so we’re happy we can use the pool!