Medical Check-ups - One of Thailand's business objectives is to make itself a destination for Medical Treatment for foreigners. The local Bangkok-Phuket Hospital advertises tours in the New York Times where you can combine a trip to an exotic country, a few days at the beach, a little snorkeling and a full physical exam for little more than you would pay your local doctor on Manhattan. We took the VIP Exam and felt the money was well spent. For about $125/person we got:
At the end, all systems were normal with a few variations, and we were glad to have this for our records before we depart the area.
Thinking up new projects - We have finished most of the re-fit items on our original list, and are wrapping up the details as we try to eliminate the pile of loose parts that we have accumulated over the last few months. This is now down to a single gallon-jug container of fittings, screws, wires, and unknown debris. But of course, other things pop to mind as we find a little idle time on our hands (maybe the Devil's work):
Swap meet flops - As in all places that cruisers meet, we had to organize a Swap Meet (or Bilge-to-Bilge Exchange). We and a few people brought their stuff, but most people were interested in drinking, eating and socializing. I've concluded that most cruisers who reach this far have been out anywhere from 3 to 12 years, and are not really interesting in picking up other people's left-overs.
Planning for Angkor Wat - As we prepare to leave this part of the world next year, we felt one more trip was necessary - this time to Angkor Wat, the awesome temple ruins in northern Cambodia. We leave on Thanksgiving Day for a 10 day trip to Bangkok, Angkor Wat, and Phnom Penh - check back in a couple of weeks and see how that went.
New staysail fitting - During a recent rain storm we noticed water pouring into the anchor locker thru the staysail chain-plate on the foredeck. We took it off, and really did not like what we saw - a normal chain-plate bent in an 'L' shape that slipped thru a slot in the bowsprit. We took a lesson from Hunter Yachts where they install deck fittings and thru-bolt them to minimize leaks. So we had a new fitting welded as well as a big backing plate that we bolted to a bulkhead under the deck. Now it looks clean, and we hope it will be many years before it leaks again.
Organizing the Cruisers - Judi has assumed the role of helping the cruising community by compiling a list of the destinations of cruisers in Phuket, and sharing it with everyone else. Thus people heading for the Mediterranean next January know that 15 other yachts are also planning to go, who they are and when they plan to leave. The 'list' has been eagerly sought by all and copies are going like hotcakes.
New restaurant opens - At Phuket Boat Lagoon the area around the marina office has been permanently under construction for the last 8 months as a new restaurant took shape. Watermark finally opened on 30 October and we tried it out for drinks a couple of nights later. The jury is out at the moment, the prices are very high for Thailand (house wine is $6/glass, name brands closer to $10) and meal prices are comparable. We will try a meal soon, and pass our judgment, but it seems to be out of the price range of most cruisers.
More boat projects and life at Boat Lagoon - We continue to come up with projects which (we hope) will improve the boat and make our life easier. The latest is a wooden box which will be a combination rubbish bin, shoe container, which we will install next to the companionway. Right now, our plethora of shoes are kept in a rattan basket, this is not particularly attractive or functional and the rubbish tends to collect in a plastic bag on top of this. So we came up with a design and negotiated a price with the wood-working people here (Nai & Toe) that we hope will be more attractive.
Otherwise, life goes on with the yachties BBQ on Wednesday nights and arranging movie nights with our friends on Voyager (Peter and Jeanette) and Quest (Michel and Ligia) and hosting dinner parties on Long Passages. Of course, the boat maintenance never ends and before we know it another week has gone by.
Last Fling in Singapore - Again, on the spur of the moment, we decided that we should make a trip to Singapore. Judi wanted to visit her doctor there one more time before heading off for the Med. and Bob wanted to peruse the electronic stores one last time as well. So we hopped down for 5 days, to allow a last minute order from West Marine to arrive at Raffles Marina in Singapore. We had it sent there so that we can avoid the hassles here in Thailand when having things shipped in. While there we met up with our friends at Raffles Marina, Mark and Pauline on s/v Sari Timor and had a lovely dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Cha Cha Cha. We will see them again in Phuket when they sail up on a racing boat competing in the "Kings Cup Regatta" next starting the Nov. 30 in Phuket.
We stayed in our favorite guest house, Perak Lodge, in the "little India" area in Singapore - very close to the MRT trains, Sim Lim Square (an electronics haven) and the inner city. It is a charming place and is one of the more reasonably priced lodging in this city.
We were, again, really surprised by how the city goes all out for Christmas. The shops were beautifully decorated and played lovely Christmas music. Orchard Rd. (the main shopping area) was dazzling with flashing lights and elaborate decorations strung across the road for several kilometers which would rival any in New York and other major cities in the US.
We literally shopped 'til we dropped for 5 days and came back with the following goodies:
Next week we look forward to Thanksgiving dinner and leaving for Angkor Wat in Cambodia
New Storage Box - In the middle of preparations, we had decided to replace a messy basket and trash bag arrangement with a proper storage box to tidy up the companionway. Nai and Toe had one of their carpenters whip out a box with dividers, sliding lids, and sized to fit where we wanted it. Unfortunately, we had not built a mock-up of it, and when we got it, it looked h-u-g-e! So now we have to decide what to do: live with it or cut it down.
Thanksgiving Dinner in Thailand - Judi continued her tradition of finding and preparing a Thanksgiving dinner wherever we are in the world. This time we invited Mike and Ligia from Quest and Peter and Jeanette from Voyager and had a wonderful dinner of turkey, stuffing, asparagus, cranberry sauce, and assorted other goodies. Our air-conditioner packed up early in the day and we moved the venue to Peter and Jeanette's apartment, but all had a great time! This was the first Thanksgiving dinner for Ligia, and we were glad to be able to share it with her and Mike.
Off to Cambodia - We packed for our trip to Cambodia using the following philosophy:
Early on Saturday 30 November, Santi, our favorite taxi driver, picked us up and we hopped a Thai Air flight to Bangkok, and Bangkok Airways flight to Siem Reap. The only drama along the way was the discovery that Bob had forgotten to bring his new Nikon F100, so we bought a new lens at Bangkok airport, and Bob was sentenced to use his 25-year old Nikon F3 manual camera for the trip.
The flights were uneventful and we landed at Siem Reap airport midday. At the airport we got one of our luckiest breaks of the trip, we were assigned Thy, a Cambodian soldier moonlighting as a driver. By early afternoon we were settled into the Bayon Hotel L - not one we would use again, but acceptable.
Cultural Dancing - We heard there was a performance each Saturday and decided to attend a buffet and dance show on the lawn in front of the Grand Hotel d'Angkor, a 5-star resort run by Raffles of Singapore fame. It was a delightful evening under the stars , starting with a glass of champagne and culminating with scenes from the Indian epic, the Ramayana. Subsequently we found that these performances are held at many hotels in Siem Reap, and that the real Saturday-night special is Beatocello, a free concert of Bach music sponsored by Dr. Beat Richner, a Swiss doctor who established a free hospital to treat Cambodian children.