Phuket January

Ariel writes:

December was basically full of boat work and more boat work. But there were a couple of respites. Since we were staying in an apartment which was owned by the resort in Boat Lagoon, we were forced to go to (had to pay for) the Christmas Eve dinner. We thought it was going to be boring because no one we know would be there.

It was usually full of tourists. Fortunately, Ann from Ferric Star organized many of the cruisers together and got us a couple of tables. It turned out to be great fun music and dancing. Christmas morning was wonderful and I got some lovely and thoughtful presents. One of which was a day at the spa. Derek apparently did a lot of asking around to find out which spa would be the best one to go to.

There are many options as Thailand is known for its massages. But the word is that Thavorn Beach Village resort is one of the best. Derek made an appointment for a couple of days after Tehani went in the water. He figured I would need it after all the cleaning I would have to do. It was perfect timing.

The day at the spa started out with the sauna and jacuzzi. Then an hour of full body scrub followed by another full hour of oil massage and a deep clean facial. It felt wonderful and all my muscles never felt so relaxed. Derek needed it more than I did, but I couldn’t get him to join me as he went back to work on the boat while I enjoyed my day off.

One of our most stressful moments was the morning Tehani went back in the water. Some of the seacocks that Derek had spent so much time on were leaking. We remained in the straps as Derek and Dave from Ferric Star (who was nice enough to come aboard and help out) frantically tried to find out where the leaks were coming from and how to make them stop. It took almost an hour of scrambling around and tightening this and that before we could safely say it was O.K to leave Tehani in the water.

During all this, Ann from Ferric Star was waiting patiently to help us get into our slip. Everything turned out great, big thanks to Dave and Ann! That was of course during New Year’s Eve. Derek was exhausted and didn’t like the idea of being too far away from Tehani, at least for a couple more days to make sure the seacocks were all O.K. The weather was bad and it poured rain on and off all day that day. So we stayed in and spent our last night at the apartment on New Year’s Eve as Tehani was still a mess.

Derek writes:

Our Thai visa ran out again on the 15th of January. American tourists are only given 30 days on arrival. Like others we can renew this by leaving the country and returning the same day if we wish. People complain that this is unfair and a pain and they are only half right. The US and Canada do the same thing to visiting non-nationals and many foreign students in the US have to go to Mexico or to Vancouver to renew their visas. We, on the other hand, only have to drive or in our case, take a mini bus for 180 miles to Burma and get stamped.

We did that last month with “Mike’s Bikes” and what a scam the whole process is. You ride up there in a minivan that departs at 6:00 AM stuffed with surly tourists for a four hour drive to the border. After checking out of Thailand at Thai immigration you walk down some alleys to rickety bamboo docks on a busy riverfront to board your vessel, the SS Minnow, which takes you for ‘a three hour cruise.

‘ Actually, it is more like an hour across the river to Burma customs, then across the water to Burma immigration where you sit in the boat and the boat boy, who last time was some skinny Burmese punk wearing a camo baseball hat with a large swastika on the front, takes the passports ashore to get stamped and you eventually return to the Thai side where you troop out of the boat, up the docks and back into the minivan to get back to Thai immigration for a re-entry stamp. We did all this last month and when we got to Thai immigration I figured what the heck, I would ask for six months, not one month.

The conversation with Mr. Immigration Official went like this: “Sawasdee-kap, here’s my passport thank you.” He looks through it and I clear my throat as he prepares the stamp. “Can I have six months please?” The stamp is hovering in midair as he stares at me. “I like Thailand very much,” I venture helpfully with a big smile. With an even bigger smile the stamp comes crashing down on my poor passport with great force and he replies, “Thailand berry happy! 29 days.” (!!)