Posted by: powellpjc | September 2, 2012

Adios, Thailand.

I’ve been here in Thailand for 4 months now, which does not make me a haggard, tattooed and sun-wrecked ex-pat, but does give me some insight into the place. So, here are the goods—and a lot of pictures.

Your humble writer. I haven’t missed too many meals but I know how to suck my gut in. I learned from Big Jimmie D.

I have sailed the Pacific twice—1978 and on this trip. The scariest part so far has been driving my scooter here in Phuket. Near schmuked countless times. I have owned motorcycles in Canada and rented scooters from Tahiti to the Philippines and my pal Ulic has driven in 61 countries, as a ski coach and general traveler. I can get my driving tally only up to 34 countries but we both agree, the Thais are the worst drivers we have ever come across. The other scooter drivers are not really the main hazard (although they will go against traffic on a 4 land divided highway), it is the car drivers and specifically the taxi boys, self-proclaimed Formula 1 jockeys and Kings of the Road. Cut you off, travel at outrageous speeds (this is coming from a speeder who has piled up plenty of Ontario demerit points) and have little regard for the painted lines on the roads. ‘It may be your lane, but I’m bigger, faster and this is my road’. Especially dangerous are the 12 passenger mini-vans ferrying innocent but wild-eyed tourists to and from the various venues. If you ever come here, tell the guy there is no rush and there will be no tip if you get medieval with your aggression on the road.

This is the modern ‘tuk-tuk’, Thailand style. Tricked out and gutless but good for ferrying tourists around–those that are ascared to rent a scooter.

Local transportation. Riding in the back of a pickup would get the RCMP pepper- spraying you upside your mug pretty quickly in Canada.

A night time tuk tuk, flat out.

Mom out shopping. Kids never get hurt when they fall. They don’t need helmets.

Getting the kids home from school.

The food is excellent in cost, variety and taste. You can have it blistering hot or the way you like it. Phuket, the island tourist area where I am, caters to foreigners, that being its life blood, so you can get your Indian curry, your Aussie big fat steak and all manner of Thai dishes, many indescribable because they have no English name but plenty being to my liking.

There is a vast array of outdoor, simple restaurants, fancy air-conditioned upscale joints and street food stalls everywhere.

I don’t know what it is but you likely can’t smoke it. It’s green so you can surely eat it.

A lot of dishes here and I can’t name a one. The night outdoor food stalls.

Now, deep-frying those chicken drummies I understand.

And I know how to buy them and eat them.

If you’re too lazy to go to the main outdoor food stalls, the meals on wheels are everywhere.

The economy is driven by the Australian, European and Asian tourist. During June/July it was Aussies on their hols. I know some Aussies well, I’ve met many and I like them all. But, when traveling here they insist on wearing the wife-beater singlet ‘a la’ Stanley Kowalski, complete with saggy tattoos and too much body hair showing. Ok, I’m talking about the men. They are on their holidays, fine, but sheese.

Would you like to rub shoulders with this guy on your plane ride home. Ok, no tatts.

This guy has no idea of the pain of a skin graft. But looking cool.

I’ve come at the wrong time of year and I knew it but the sailing schedule for a world revolution has its own schedule. May to November is the rainy season here. There are no typhoons, that is no typhonic winds but there is a hell of a lot of rain some weeks. You really can’t go out. There are plenty of beaches but the water is rough.

Patong beach on a quiet day. It’s not as clean as it looks.

Patong beach with the usual activities. I like paragliding but I wouldn’t ever trust one of these parasailing operations.

And Patong on not so nice a day.

You can get wet but you really can’t swim. There has been more than one tourist drowning per week since I arrived in May. You want to come in December to April for that stuff.  If you’re caught in the rain on your scooter, well you slow down and take it. Flooded streets, power outages, goodly winds.

From the hotel balcony. On these days one hunkers down.

I’ve kept my boat at a place called Boat Lagoon on the east side of the island of Phuket and by lagoon they mean sweatlodge. Without air-conditioning it is impossible to live on the boat so I’ve taken rooms on the other side of the island near Patong beach. That means a 40 minute scooter ride (each way) to the boat so you know I’ve been hammered by the rains. Just take it. I have been fluffing up the boat with upgrades and that means a 6 day work week and Sunday at the beach.

A lot of gals hanging around in Phuket.

The work has been worth it. I bought new 10 mm chain; new wind vane paddles; new sails(main and jib); new lazy jacks; new boom bag; new cushions for the cockpit and my bony ass and a whole lot of other boring electrical and mechanical work. This ‘la Rosa’ is going to be in great shape when I get around to selling it.

la Rosa is looking good and ready to ride.

I have two friends from Canada with me now and we are going for a 5 day test sail, a ‘shakedown’ in two days to try out all the new goodies. That will give me a few days or week to rejig what needs rejigging before I cut loose from Thailand.

This is the area of our shakedown cruise. Many flowerpot islands and maybe a few fish.

My plan is to sail south to pick up the SE trades and cross the Big Indian. Enroute to Madagascar I will stop at Chagos, a British overseas territory. Think Diego Garcia south of India. One needs a permit to stop at these atolls and I secured one after shelling out $200 for two weeks. !? It will be about an 1800 mile run to Chagos and another 900 to Madagascar. The hard part will be getting south enough to pick up the trades so there will be some motoring and skirting of the Indonesian coast in light airs for a week or so, insha’allah.

This will be my intended route come mid-September.

I have lots of fuel, lots of grub, spanking new sails and I can’t wait to let go. Thailand is not for me.

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Responses

  1. well, I feel damp, stuffed with exotic food and car sick….and will never look a singlet in the same way again. Looking forward to a virtual voyage….safe passage.


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