Visas extended + 26 more days in Thailand
Mon 20 Feb 2017 08:55
We said good-bye to our lovely Russian friends Aydar and Gulzada having had several really interesting conversations about their lives in Tatarstan and ours on board Gaviota, we were sorry to see them go but hope to meet up again in the future. From Kata Beach we sailed (yes sailed!!!) to Kamala Bay North of Patong Beach and went Hashing, the second Hash was from Patong Beach so we sailed back round there to do that on Saturday, 28th January. This Hash was a serious jungle hash complete with a very steep hill climb clinging onto roots and trees to pull yourself up. The views of Phuket City and the bays was stunning but the trip there and back on the rickety old open truck was scary – we just prayed the brakes wouldn’t fail!
The swell started coming in from the West and our anchorage at Patong Beach got increasingly rolly – time to move on – again! Back to Kata Beach but the swell was building so it was time to go back round to the East side. We had a lovely whoopee sail back round to Ao Yon near Chalong.
Friday, 10th February – Visa Extension time! There are 2 places on the Island where this can be done, Phuket City or Patong Beach – now we were back on the East side again it had to be Phuket City.
Buses in Phuket are a bit of a mystery, no point in asking the locals as they either say there aren’t any (they want you to get a taxi!) or they say there are but they run whenever (that is IF they speak English which most don’t). The internet was a little bit more helpful in that it said there was a bus service to Phuket City from where we were and that the buses were blue. That was a start. We chanced it and went and stood on the road, after about 15 minutes a bus (blue open sided cattle truck) appeared, 30 bahts (60p) each and we were heading for Phuket City.
The bus dropped us outside the Market. Immigration was the other side of town so we took a Tuk Tuk (open sided taxi), how easy this was so far! Immigration was jam packed full of tourists all having to go through the same process – this was going to be a long wait. We were greeted by 2 officers – one German and one American, they both spoke excellent English (thank goodness) and had a sense of humour (a good start). We filled in the necessary forms and produced all the essential paperwork then were given a number and told to sit and wait our turn. We had been told to expect a 2 hour wait and obediently did as we were told. They had been thoughtful enough to provide a television with a movie – Jurassic Park Lost World????? Interesting choice??? Eventually our number was called, photos taken, money handed over and we were stamped into Thailand for another 30 days. That makes us officially here until 18th March then we have to leave and if necessary re-enter with another 30 day Tourist Visa. Gaviota is luckier she got 6 months!
We went for a celebratory lunch on the way back to the Bus Terminal and stocked up with fresh veg at the local market. The bus back was equally easy, buses have the destination name in English on the front and the bus service seems pretty frequent (I’m not at all sure why all this information is so hard to find!) The bus back cost 40 bahts – strange increase in price but for 10p who’s going to argue – after all ‘thats Thailand’.
Syd wanted to go up and check out a boatyard and Marina in the North of Phuket, wind was forecast but not at the 20+ knots we got, so we had a pretty good, though rough, sail to windward the 6 miles over to Ko Maithon (commonly known as honeymoon Island). There was one small protected bay to anchor in but it was jammed full of tripper boats so we anchored out. The wind continued to blow but we had protection from the reef at the Southern end of the bay. Ko Maithon is a popular snorkelling spot so we got masks and fins on and went to see what was under the water. The sea was clear and there was quite a lot of coral, though a lot was badly damaged and bleached. There were a few fish and it was a nice snorkel round to the protected beach and back. We had planned to stay the night then head North but the wind had continued to pick up (not forecasted!), so we decided with the reef bottom and increasing swell that it was not a good place to spend the night, so about 4.30pm we upped anchor, rolled out the genoa and had a lovely fast easy sail back to near Ao Chalong.
A big plus point for Phuket and the islands is that there is always an escape route if the weather changes, though sailing at night is not advisable due to the huge amounts of fish traps and nets everywhere (they are hard to see in the day, so at night it is impossible!)
The dreaded swell was managing to creep into even the most sheltered of anchorages so we decided to go sailing – another windward bash out to Ko Maithon then North up the coast, with green water crashing over the bow and a brisk South East/East/North East 20 knot wind (and Syd with a smile on his face) we started with a reef in the mainsail which was taken out as we headed North and the wind lessened. We carried on past the new Ao Po Grand Marina which is at the North East point of Phuket – the superyachts berthed there were impressive and included Radiant one of the largest superyachts in the world, she was originally commissioned by a Russian Boris Beresovsky and has now been re-named and is owned by an Arab, she is 361 feet in length!!!!!!
We anchored on the west side of a little island called Koh Wa Yai which is situated in the Chong Pak Phra Channel and separates Phuket with the Phang Nga district of mainland Thailand.
Wednesday, 15th February we sailed into Yacht Haven Marina which is situated mid way along the Chong Pak Phra Channel in site of the road bridge which links mainland Thailand with Phuket and is close to the International Airport. We checked in for 2 nights for Syd to see various tradespeople, boatyards and maybe get work lined up on Gaviota. The whole of the village of Laem Phrao next to the boatyard is reliant on work from the Marinas and a thriving area of workshops tackling most boat jobs are on site. The major problem in Thailand is language – hardly anyone speaks understandable English so whilst the skills may be there communication is a big issue! Workers arrived and quotes were promised.
The plus point of Yacht Haven is that it has good facilities including an excellent well equipped gym at the nearby condominium and small swimming pool. It is situated off the main road so escapes the major traffic issue that the rest of Phuket is plagued by and is surrounded by rubber plantations. There is an expanding boatyard with haul out facilities next door and we walked through the jungle to pay them a visit. Haul out is by trailer but the place appeared to be well run and was close by for tradespeople to do jobs. A definite possible for Gaviota’s work.
Our 2 days were up and the weekend had arrived (no work!) so we fueled up and anchored off the Marina to wait until Monday.and hopefully get to see some of the elusive tradespeople??????