Phuket Thailand

Peregrina's Journey
Peter and Margie Benziger
Sun 4 Mar 2012 01:39
07:53.0N    98:24.0E

Where in the World are Margie and Peter?  Phuket, Thailand!
After more than 2 months back in the USA, Peter and I recently returned to our beloved, Peregrina, now in Phuket, Thailand.  We had left her “on the hard” at the Royal Phuket Marina just three days after arriving here from Langkawi, Malaysia.  Since then, a crew of Thai workers has sanded down the hull and put on four coats of anti-fouling bottom paint and stripped off all the varnish on the teak rails, cockpit and topside hatch covers.  This week, they are beginning to put on several new coats of varnish and we hope to be back in the water soon.

Before we update you on our adventures, a little background information on Thailand would seem to be in order…
The country was initially known as Siam. On May 11, 1949, an official proclamation declared that the country would henceforth be known as Thailand. The word "Thai" means free so Thailand means "Land of the Free." 
For public relations purposes, the current slogan is “Land of Smiles” which really is true.  These are the happiest, friendliest people you could ever meet! The picture below is of our friend Allan and his Thai wife Noi who is about half his height. Her smile, however, is a typical Thai smile….as big as the sky.


Climate: Thailand is a warm and VERY humid tropical country. The climate is monsoonal, marked by a pronounced rainy season lasting from about May to September and a relatively dry season for the remainder of the year. Temperatures are highest in March and April and lowest in December and January. According to our guidebook, the average temperature is 81o F but we’ve experienced nothing less than 90 since we got back here in February.
The population of Thailand, approximately 65 million.
 Buddhism is practiced of 95 percent of the population. Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and other beliefs are embraced by the rest of the population. There is absolute religious freedom. The King of Thailand, under the constitution and in practice, is a patron of all major religions. 
The Monarchy:
The system of absolute monarchy ended in 1932 and, ever since, Thai Kings have ruled under a constitution; their powers theoretically no greater than those of European monarchs. However, you’d never guess this if you look around Thailand today.  Man, do they love this King!  His picture is EVERYWHERE including all the money.

 Ever since he was officially crowned in 1946, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has worked tirelessly on behalf of his people, gaining a measure of devotion that is probably more intense than that felt for any of his all-powerful ancestors, or any other modern day monarch, for that matter. It has been said that Their Majesties King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit are the hardest working royal couple in the world with at least one function every day of the year. Of the several institutions that form the foundation of modern Thai life, the one His Majesty represents is not only the most visible but also the most revered. 

His Majesty has devoted himself to public service and made enduring contributions to Thailand's development, initiating vital "royally-suggested" projects such as crop rotation, fish breeding, irrigation, natural watershed programs, dairy farming, reforestation, road building, and the establishment of self-help villages. 

He’s also a world class sailor which makes him A-OK in our book!  However, the truth is, you cannot utter one WORD of criticism against the King in public without risking an angry mob stomping you to death!

King Bhumibol was born on December 5, 1927, ascended the throne on June 9, 1946, and married Her Majesty Queen Sirikit on April 28, 1950.

Their Majesties have four children; Their Royal Highnesses Princess Ubol Ratana, (presently residing in the United States); Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, and Princess Chulabhorn.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting and, I’m taking my life in my hands by saying this, but, rumor has it that there is a HUGE internal crisis going on at the royal palace in terms of a succession plan for when the King passes away – which could be anytime now as he is approaching 86 years old.  Normally, the Crown Prince would automatically inherit the throne but Maha Vajiralongkorn is, supposedly a womanizer with a personality many people feel inappropriate for the monarchy.

Princess Ubol Ratana, supposedly next in line, IF they can figure out a way to bypass #1 son, has been banished from the Kingdom for all intents and purposes for the UNTHINKABLE transgression of marrying an AMERICAN (!!!) of all people! 

Moving on down the bottom of the line, the youngest princess, Chulabhorm, has some physical and mental challenges which make her unsuitable to take over her father’s position and that leaves Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who has all the best qualities of her mother and father and has seemingly been groomed for the monarchy all her life.  Everybody LOVES Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn but, apparently, they don’t know how the King is going to change the rules of succession which hands the crown over to the first son, Maha Vajiralongkorn. 

It’s a controversy that everyone whispers about but you can’t get a Thai to discuss the subject in public so that’s all the gossip I have at the moment.  However, rest assured, when the time comes, this will be a transition that will rock the foundation of Thailand – not unlike the English drama of Edward and Wallis Simpson!  Anyway, enough of Thailand!  Let’s talk about Peter and Margie…
While on our Christmas “vacation” from our regular job which is mostly a full-time “vacation”, we stopped in California to see Lauren.  We stayed at an AirBnB house on Balboa Island near Newport Beach.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with AirBnB, do check out their website:   It’s a great way to find a fantastic deal on accommodations in a private home, villa, apartment, houseboat, treehouse - you name it - anywhere around the world!  We’ve used AirBnB in San Francisco, Balboa Island and even rented a villa in Bali with another couple.  It’s an incredible concept and a great way to see the world from the front door of a private home.

After four days in CA, we flew to Miami where we had a great time catching up with family and friends.  Amy came home for Christmas and then Margie went back to work for Cheryl Andrews Marketing for a few weeks and Peter spent many, many hours working on fixing up our house to rent out for the coming year.
Everything fell into place as we approached our departure date on February 6th.  We found new tenants, had a successful yard sale, spent four lovely days in Costa Mesa, CA with BOTH girls, and flew off to Thailand from LAX.

We spent a week back on the boat at Royal Phuket Marina but, when the sanding got too much to bear, we escaped the heat and all that teakwood dust with a trip to Chaing Mai and the small town of Prae, four hours north of Chaing Mai.  Two cruising friends that we met during Sail Indonesia live in Prae and they invited us to stay with them in their home way up in the mountains.  Alan, a Scotsman, who makes a living as a professional diver aboard oil rigs and his Thai wife, Noi, have been traveling the world for 30 years alternating between his far-flung oil explorations, cruising aboard Rogue, their Trintella 44 and maintaining homes in Thailand and Scotland.  We were joined by our good friends, Barbara and Jim from Contrails (USA) and Trish and Steve from Curious (UK).

 It was a wonderful change from the hustle and bustle of Phuket and a chance to see what life is really like in a small town in northern Thailand far from the typical tourist centers.  We’ll talk more about our visit to Prae later…

Back in Phuket after our six day getaway, we realized that it will probably be another two or three weeks before we will be ready to leave.  We still have to install solar panels and a wind generator and we are waiting for our anchor chain to return from Bangkok where we are having it re-galvanized.  Climbing up and down a ten foot ladder several times a day/night to get in/out of the boat was getting old fast so we decided to move into one of the marina’s hotel/efficiency apartments to make life easier.   Clean sheets and towels every day, hot water showers, AIR-CONDITIONING, swimming pool, spa and gym, restaurants galore and CNN. What more could you ask for at a cost of 10,500 bhat per month which is about US$340 of $12 per day. This is a picture of our pool.
boat lagoon photos.jpg

  So, we’re living large here in Phuket and will fill you in on all our adventures in the next installment of “Where in the World are Margie and Peter?”