26 March, 2008

PART TWO - Thailand and home to NZ

(see Part 1 of this blog below)

Our next stop was at Phi Phi Le – famous as the location where the movie “The Beach” – starring Leonardo di Caprio - was filmed.

Tourist boats go there in their droves each day, so we got there late afternoon and had a lovely peaceful night with about five other yachts, and left before the tourist onslaught the following morning.

We checked in with Customs at Ao Chalong in Phuket, had a couple of great nights catching up with fellow Kiwi yachtie friends, and then headed up to the top of Phuket to Yacht Haven Marina. We were having about five nights there before heading to NZ.

We hired a motorbike one day, and did a tour of Phuket. We went to Patong Beach, which was really hard hit in the tsunami. The place has been totally rebuilt; there is no evidence of the tsunami at all. The beach was amazing – about two miles long, the entire length of the beach was about eight deep with deckchairs and beach umbrellas! The place was full of East Europeans and Russians – planes come in direct from there each day. We hardly heard another English voice the whole time we were at Patong.

So after spending a week in Thailand, it was time to jump on the big bird and head home to New Zealand…….

Our time in NZ has been great. We were initially booked to be here for three weeks, but business matters mean that we have had to extend that time by two weeks, so we are now back in Phuket on 1 April.

We got home to find Wellington having the best summer in over ten years, so we were pretty happy with that! It was great to be back, to get to ‘The Cake-tin’ to see the Hurricanes beat the Chiefs (the Super 14 rugby competition for the non-rugby followers out there!), and generally just hang out spending time with family and friends.

After ten days in Wellington we had the weekend in Hastings, and then went to Auckland to see Shane’s brothers. One of his brothers, Kim, was getting married at Tapuaetahi – near Kerikeri.

An idyllic spot. As soon as we arrived, that was it. Shane took one look at Kim surfing the waves, he was off to join him using a borrowed board and wetsuit, and I was left unloading the car.

Not a bad spot, with the surf right at the front door.

Kim and Diana’s wedding was the day after we arrived. With it being held at a beach batch, over 100 people coming, and a hangi to set down, there was plenty of work to be done, but everything was well in hand when we arrived.

The wedding day dawned lovely and fine, and everyone had a great time. Here’s the Hegan clan, with Kim and Diana on the far right.

After the wedding we had an overnight stop in Auckland, and then we drove back down to Wellington. Shane was kept busy for three days doing some repairs and decorating at our commercial rental property. I busied myself doing coffees and lunches with friends – so I think I got the good end of the deal!

We had a good Easter, spending it with Shane’s kids, and this last week in Wellington has been spent enjoying the still-fantastic weather here, and fitting a few more lunches and coffees in with friends. Only five more days to go, and we will be back on Enzwell, ready to continue to see more of Thailand before heading south.

Till next time.
Heather and Shane

PART ONE - Penang and Langkawi

Early February saw us in Penang. We were lucky enough to be there for Chinese New Year, which was spectacular.

There were lots of celebrations on during the two weeks we were in Penang. Two events were quite memorable – visiting the Kek Lok Si Buddhist Temple, also known as the Temple of Supreme Bliss. It was an amazing sight during the day, but even more so at night as it was beautifully lit up for the Chinese New Year period.

We also went with other yachties to a celebration being held near the marina.

It was like an ‘open home’ – there would have been over a thousand visitors; everyone was fed and provided with soft drink/coffee; there was entertainment all afternoon and evening, including a dragon dance and children doing a drum display; and the evening culminated in magnificent fireworks. It was pretty amazing that we could get to something like this, be a part of the local festivities, and it was all provided at no charge. Certainly a fantastic way for Penang to promote itself to visitors.

From Penang we travelled to Langkawi, stopping for two nights at beautiful anchorages just south of the main part of the island. We only had two days at Langkawi town itself, so hired a motorbike to have a look around the island. Langkawi is duty-free, and fairly laid-back, so has become a popular place for expats (particularly Brits) to settle.

We started to notice the change in the landscape – whereas Malaysia is fairly non-descript and low-lying near the coast, Langkawi has the limestone cliffs that Thailand is famous for.
We checked out of Malaysia at Langkawi, and had about a week to get up to Phuket and check in there.

On the way north up Thailand we stopped at Ko Muk, a beautiful anchorage with lovely clear aquamarine water.

Lots of tourist boats come to Ko Muk each day to visit Tham Morakot (Emerald Cave). It is a beautiful limestone tunnel that can be entered by boat at low tide, or by swimming through the cave.

It is named Emerald Cave for a reason; the tunnel stretches 80 metres in darkness before finally emerging into an open pool of emerald hue! It is truly an awesome sight.

Our first experience at Emerald Cave was somewhat spoilt by the people on a tourist boat who screamed the whole way through the tunnel; we went back to the cave again at the end of the day when all the tourists had gone and experienced the peace and tranquillity.

With spots like this we knew we were going to like Thailand!