Saturday, 8 February 2014

Sailing north, Surin Islands, social life and an express visit from the past

A blog post is long overdue! Maybe it's because the cruising life just becomes everyday-ish, that we almost forget how cool a life we actually have. Maybe we're too busy reading books, swimming and visiting beach restaurants, or maybe I'm just lazy.

Anyway, picking up from the last blog post, we got to Phuket and that was the end stop for visitor Louise. She did have another week left in Thailand, but spent that at some nice hotels and indulged in the luxuries that Sophia doesn't offer (eg shower). If we thought there were many boats in Langkawi, Phuket takes many boats another level up! Ao Chalong bay at the southern end of Phuket is packed with moored and anchored boats plus all the locals tour boats. On top of that there are 3-4 other marinas on Phuket. All up, many hundreds, if not even thousands of boats around the Phuket area. We actually find it almost anti-social and didn't meet any new cruisers except the Danish (hurrah) boat Naveren. Even over on the eastern side of Ao Chalong at the smaller more quiet anchorage with only 15-20 cruising boats, we still didn't meet any other cruisers. Of course we could just be a bit more outgoing and just go introduce ourselves, but that's not really our nature.
We enjoyed the well stocked supermarkets, cheap laundromats, and bussed and scootered around the island. We visited Phuket town which was quite nice, the old town has similar colonial architecture as Georgetown on Penang. We went to some chandleries and checked out a couple of marinas and bussed to Patong where we met Louise again before she flew home.
We're now at the very north of the West coast of Thailand in Ko Phayam, we sailed past some Myanmar islands on the way. Coming up here we stopped five days at Surin Islands where we our social life bloomed. Totem and Infinity, two boats we met on Borneo, were there, as well as two other boats that they all knew. We had sundowner drinks every nights and snorkelled together and did island excursions together. All great fun. Surin is a national park, so the water is protected (but fishing boats seemed to be in the vicinity all the time) and it was pretty good snorkelling and clear water. The coral wasn't doing too well, but the fish life was quite diverse and good.
The super coolest thing we saw was octopus! I think we saw one on Tonga, but besides that we haven't seen any, although we probably have, because they really are masters of disguise! Related to the cuttle fish we have seen several times which also have good disguise, the octopus surely is the master! It's only if it moves or if you can spot the breathing holes that you'd notice it and we only saw it because someone else found it. It could mimic any coral colour and even got lumps and spikes, just like whatever coral it was sitting on! It found another octopus and they seemed to fight or something like it, a bit, but then went separate ways again. It was only when it was swimming in the water (really fast actually!) that it was it's 'own' colour (dark grey). Unfortunately I didn't get any good photos of it, but here's one of it swimming through the water.
The other highlight of Surin Islands was another visitor: Sonni. We went to high school together and haven't seen each other for 14-15 years, but with the advent of facebook we have stayed loosely in touch. We actually almost met two years ago on Stewart Island, but unfortunately when Sonni got there, we were down in Port Pegasus with no internet, so we missed him. It first seemed we would also miss Sonni again here in Thailand as he was over on the East Coast, but luckily he changed his mind and came over here, and on his way to Bangkok, he came out to visit us on Surin Islands! It was really nice to seem him, and we got to play four in a row against each other, a game Sonni and I played a lot for a while in high school, plus we of course made him play Settler of Catan with us, and he even won it. We also took him snorkelling and he experience a pot luck dinner with the other cruisers on a nice big catamaran. A quick 24 hour visit, but great nonetheless.

We are now heading down to Phuket again and will visit Surin and hopefully Similian Islands on our way south.
A Moken village we visited on Surin Island. Mokiens are traditionally sea gypsies, but these guys here had been relocated to this village by the government.
simple life!

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