Oh dear, we have been in Phuket, Thailand for nearly three months and this is the first time that we have put pen to paper - or should I say fingers to keyboard.
We spent our first week finding our way around before the kids arrived to spend Christmas with us on Tulu. Will and Charlotte arrived as scheduled but poor Jonno and Bex were delayed until the next morning thanks to a delay in Abu Dhabi - they were barely given a chance to unpack before we set off in an airconditioned (very welcome) minibus for a sightseeing tour of Phuket island. The rest of our 11 days together was spent out on the water on Tulu with the punctuation of Christmas Eve and Day which we spent with Tracy and Jonny - Charlottes mother and brother. On Christmas eve we took them out on Tulu, spent the night anchored off their resort, then had Christmas Day in the luxurious Six Senses Resort and Spa on Koh Yau Noi. Prior to that we had investigated the karsts and hongs of Phang Nga Bay (see photo gallery) and then we made our way around the south of Phuket and up the west coast to Nai Yang Beach just south of the airport where we were able to drop the kids on the beach to take a very short taxi ride to the airport. Their departure came all too soon - we had such fun paddle boarding, sampling the local food, swimming, beach massages, evenings playing Mexican train dominoes and generally relaxing and catching up on each others lives.
After a couple of weeks break, Judy (Sara’s sister) and her partner Barry joined us for 5 days at the end of their 3 month tour of Indochina, then Rog (Sara’s brother) and his wife Lou joined us for 2 weeks followed by Simon and Elaine for another 5 days. It was lovely to have such good friends and family with us - quite a contrast to the last two years when visitors have been very few and far between.
We have had some great sailing around Phuket and found some lovely spots. The west coast - despite the great beaches - is very crowded with jetskis and speed boats buzzing around and landing the dingy ashore can be challenging at times. Towards the Krabi coast on the mainland to the east, the scenery and the water is stunning, but again full of long-tails, the local boats which have truck engines (no silencers) with unprotected props on the end of very long shafts that they swing around to maneuver - they have to be seen and heard to be believed!
With Rog and Lou we were able to venture further afield down to Koh Lanta and Koh Muk further south where we found much quieter and clearer waters. With Simon and Elaine we spent our time in Phang Nga Bay amongst the spectacular cliffs of the karst limestone and investigating the caves and hongs (literally translated in Thai as “room”) where the roofs of vast caves have collapsed to create quite amazing natural spaces.
It has been over 20 years since we last came to Phuket and although the Thai people are still as friendly, the food still as tasty and the beaches still as beautiful, there is the inevitable enormous increase in the number of tourists and the infrastructure to support them. Despite that we are very comfortable in Thailand. We have plans to do some overland travel later in the year when we return from the UK.
As I write this we have just hauled Tulu out of the water and she will stay on dry land for three months whilst we go home to catch up with family and friends and most importantly celebrate Jonno and Bex’s wedding in April.