Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday, August 15th – Last Day on Land, Phuket, Thailand

For this epic journey we had planned to spend our final four weeks in Thailand, but were considering doing something “big” towards the end to finish off the trip (as if the trip itself wasn’t big enough!)  Maybe even surprise ourselves and do something even we didn’t expect.  We considered doing a side trip to Bali, Perth, Maldives or Vietnam, but somehow none of that felt quite right.  As I was doing some web surfing one morning shortly after we arrived in Phuket, I thought to check out yacht charters.  Within two days we had found a perfect boat and booked it for a five day trip beginning tomorrow.  We chartered a 2013 36’ Fountain Pajot catamaran which has three cabins, perfect for our family and our friend Todd who will be joining us on this vacation within the vacation.

So today we packed up most of our things, did some grocery shopping for all the dry goods we will need, such as water, canned food, rice, beer, wine, spices, cereal and all the other non perishables we estimated we would need for the trip.  We drove up to Yacht Haven, which is the marina on the northeast side of the island, and the charter company let us onto the boat one day early to start stocking it up.  She is a real beauty and still has the new boat smell!  Though Ana and I have plenty of sailing experience on our sailboat Bella Blue on Lake Erie, but we have never sailed a catamaran before and it has been nearly fifteen years since I’ve sailed on the ocean, so this is going to be a very different experience for us.  Thrilling!

After loading up the boat and stopping for a coffee at the marina cafe, overlooking what was probably half a billion dollars worth of vessels, we drove back to the hotel, lounged around for a few hours, then returned to our new favourite restaurant and met Todd there for some last minute planning for the voyage.

And lest I forget, the rubber tree.  There are rubber tree plantations all over Thailand and we have passed dozens of them in our car, but today was the first time that I actually pulled over to have a closer look.  Each of the trees has a candy stripe gouge cut into it from which the sap emerges and drips into a small, black bucket attached to the tree.  The process seems very similar to how maple syrup is harvested, but in this case the sap will be turned into tires instead of pancake covering.  I pulled a piece of the yellow sap dripping off the tree, and even in this form it feels just like a long elastic band, so I yanked off the tree and stuffed it away in my backpack for a souvenir.

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