Phuket Day 2
April 10, 2006
Awake again at 5 am. Breakfast begins at 7 am so I make coffee in the room, write some and go out onto the beach as the sun comes up. It's beautiful and quiet except for my own giggling at the crabs when they scurry helter-skelter as I walk by.
Breakfast is served in the pool side restaurant and the food is buffet, but cooked to order. Everything is good, especially the excellent pastries still warm from the oven. There's a large variety of fruits, yogurts, meats, and the pancakes are fluffy bits o' heaven.
Snap. Crackle. Pop.
No, it's not breakfast cereal. No it's not my knees. It's a very subtle noise I'm hearing as I sit on the little couch next to the bed to read. It's raining out and we have until noon which we will be picked up for the John Gray Sea Canoe adventure. I hear the noise again. Crackle. Crackle.
No, not crackle, it's more like a crunch....crunch...oh my God, I realize what it is.
Our bed has termites!
Well, not exactly our bed, but the built in headboard/shelf behind it. I can see evidence of the termite damage and poor repair along the base of the unit. I sigh. How am I going to explain this to the front desk without sounding crazy (there are little bugs in my bed, eating the wood. But you can't see them, you can only hear them. Yeah, right).
Crazy Farang Lady
I go up to reception and ask if there are other rooms available for us to move into today. I'm told all rooms of our type are full. I take a deep breath and sit down and say, we have another problem with our room. I try to explain what it is and the lovely girl behind the desk, furrows her brow and indeed looks at me as if I'm crazy. She then tells me she will send someone down to look into it. They do not come before we leave at noon. When we come back at 9 PM the crunching is still there. It's too late to deal with this so we just decide to wait until morning.
John Gray Sea Canoe
Hong By Starlight Tour
This is a great trip. We're picked up promptly at noon in a new toyota camry and driven across the island to a rickety but picturesque pier where we wait for everyone else to arrive. There are about a dozen people on the boat with us, plus 6 paddlers. Here we meet Penelope, an American woman about our age living in Tokyo. We have a very nice time during the trip talking to her about photography, travel and living abroad. Our guide/paddler Mario is a character who likes to crack jokes and speak to us in Italian (he learns we speak a couple different languages so he tries out all the words he knows on us). He does a fantastic job paddling us through some rough seas at times. We are always the last ones in the water and the last out which means we get some great opportunities to be the only ones inside the "hongs".
The trip starts with lunch on the boat and a short instruction on how to behave in the caves (low voices, no touching the walls, etc.)
The limestone formations and caves are stunning and we go though one that's loaded with fruit bats (quite stinky in there!). We see no other tourists during the trip except for a couple on a "private" trip which mirrors ours exactly, including sharing the kitchen of our boat. Although we do not get to paddle ourselves, we are given the opportunity to try it ot take a swim at one of the stops. David paddles himself around a cove while I go in the water.
We see all sorts of wildlife. Brown and white eagles follow the boat as Mario throws raw chicken pieces to them. Blue crabs cling to rocks and pull jellyfish out of the water. Bright blue sea birds with long black bills. Mudskippers stranded by low tide. Big lizards. The only thing we do not see are monkeys, but we're told this is a very rare occurrence now.
Eagles following the boat.
Blue, red and green coral. Crabs pulling a Jellyfish from the water.
At night, we make krathongs, floating offerings made out of palm leaves, flowers, candles and incense. We're told to "make a wish" and instead of blowing out the candles, we launch them inside a cave where we also see incredible bioluminescence. On the way back out of the cave we pick up our krathongs so as not to litter and my candles burn all the way back to the boat.
Note: I recommend you make sure you bring a change of clothes for the trip. Much of the trip is spent getting in and out of the canoes, so you spend most of the time (about 6 of the 8 hours) sitting in a puddle (or at least it feels that way). It was nice once the sun went down and we were done with the caves to change into dry clothes.
As for the food, lunch was very basic; wide noodles stir fried with greens, fried spring rolls, and some sliced fruit. Dinner was quite a big spread-hot and sour soup, a whole fried fish, tempura shrimp, vegetables, more fruit, etc. One of the teenage girls on the trip was a vegetarian and they made a visible effort for her.
Before we dock, we're given photo cds filled with pictures from prior trips and I buy David a souvenir t-shirt. We give Mario a big tip and thank him profusely for a great time. The driver is at the dock waiting for us. An exhausting, but satisfying day.
For more Photos of Phang Na Bay and the John Gray Sea Canoe
see the Phuket Photo Page...