It's name says it all. "Thai" means free in the thai language and it's true. It is the only SE Asian country to never have been occupied by any other country and they are proud of it. They are proud of many things but most revered of all is their King and the Royal Family. It is rather refreshing actually to see how much respect can be held for one man when he is of such high character. His image is everywhere. Before every movie or theater production everyone stands for a moment of respect while you watch a film of his life. It is OK to have disagreements with the politics of the country but not a terse word is heard about him. They are quick to point out his photo in their stores and state "I love my King". By the end of two months we were ready to chime in with them.

Golden Buddha

Wat Traimit or Temple of the Golden Buddha, 5.5 tons and 3 meters high of solid gold Sukhothai image. Amazing alone for it's stature but even greater that it was discovered only 40 years ago beneath a plaster exterior that broke off when the statue was accidentally dropped from a crane while being moved.

Phuket & her neighbors

Ornate bow of an old fishing boat in Thailand.

Nai Harn

Surrounded by water, Phuket is actually an island, with the Andaman Sea to the west and Phuket Bay to the east, the Indian Ocean to the south and a river to the north. On the last night of our crossing from the Mentawai's we passed through dozens and dozens fishing boats lit up like roller coasters at night. We made landfall in Nai Harn and was surprised to find so other cruisers and so much tourism. It turns out that many sailors make it here and decide never to leave. There was a wonderful beach with a natural river like a water slide for the kids. It was also our introduction to the chair/umbrella lined beaches that are a common site through out Thailand.

Ao Chalong
Ao Chalong is a more industrialized part of Phuket and the place to get work done. Time for lots of maintenance for Ohana Kai including repairing the sails, again, regalvanize 300ft. and 300 lbs. of rusty anchor chain. We even splurged and had a new protective cover made for the dinghy and much needed new covers for the cushions in the cockpit. It was also a great place to prepare for Christmas. Downtown there were malls to rival any at home and a movie theater that even offered first class seating like an airplane. You can enter an hour early and be served your popcorn and drinks in glasses during the film.

How do you get 300 lbs of anchor chain to shore?


We still preferred the open air night markets where you could find any delicacy your heart may or may not desire. Clothing to deep fried crickets. Spare scooter parts to sweet treats.

Squid on a stick anyone?



A long pier extends into the bay providing the launch zone for every day type of vessel imaginable, day cruise ship, fishing boat, fuel barge and any other vessel that wants to partake of the area. All this traffic creates a fierce chop within the anchorage that was more uncomfortable than some of our worst crossings. The nearby ocean could be perfectly calm but within the boundaries of these boats was a mess. Add a bit of onshore breeze and you have a churning sea with boats bucking in unruly fashion. Try to navigate this all in a dinghy was an exercise that we tried to make as little as possible especially when we occasionally found ourselves surfing breaking waves.

Luckily we found a very convenient anchorage just across the bay that even provided the extra benefit of free internet from a local hotel.

Hiding under the pier to avoid the choppy bay.

Have scooter - will travel!

Provision, provision, provision, scooter style.

Getting around Phuket was generally easy in tuk tuks which are slow, inexpensive open air taxi's of sorts. We much preferred being the masters of our own destinies, (i.e. taking our lives into our own hands) while honing our scooter skills and taking on round abouts with hundreds of our new Thai neighbors. It added a whole new dimension when it came time to provisioning, note the side car. You can pack quite a lot of food into one of those, though you feel like you are always going to turn left. The trick was getting it back into the dinghy, across that bay and back to the boat. There is also the art of of washing the bugs off each piece of produce, repackaging each pound of meat, and rebagging anything packaged in cardboard which houses cockroaches and their eggs. Then there is the small detail of finding a home for everything.

Phang Nga Province

Sailing around the turquoise yet murky waters of Phuket took a bit of getting used to since we never saw depths greater than 3 meters shallow. Strange when you can't ever see the bottom. We did find it a few times with the keel as we tried to "feel" our way over some sand bars. What better way to knock off those pesky barnacles. The more traditional "longtail" boats will come by in the evenings and offer their catch for the day be it fish or shrimp. Notice the LONG weed whacker of a shaft leading to their propeller. They make quite a sound as well.
The most northern part of Ao (bay) Phang Nga was the perfect location to settle ourselves, just outside the Yacht Haven Marina, and share Christmas with our friends on Moorea, Luna and Pelikaan. On shore there were even showers and a swimming pool across the street and up a block if one felt so inclined to wander.

Exploring the nearby islands was one of our favorite places in Thailand. The island of Ko Phing Kan or James Bond Island is one of the more famous locations to visit since the movie "007 - Man with the Golden Gun" was at least in part filmed here. Packed with tourists and the most aggressive hawkers yet, it is certainly a site to see.


Better yet were the numerous karst formations or giant rock and limestone spires that seem to rise up out of the bay and then ooze back down like your best drip candles. They provided many great caves and mangrove forests to explore in the dinghy.

Ko Panyi - Stilt Village

One last trip was a visit to a gypsy stilt village that as it's name suggests is entirely built on stilts high out of the water. We were lucky enough to visit it after the more touristy hours and experienced quite a meal there. They reach down into a less than sanitary pen where you get to choose the poor creature about to give his life for your meal. Minutes later he appears on your table for a feast. The wait staff then hover about you only second to the swarms and clouds of mosquitoes that blanket everything. The meal was tasty and the adventure unique. We were blessed enough to get out of there with out contracting dengue, fever unlike our dear friend, Dagmar from s/v Luna, who ended up a week in the Phuket Hospital for the experience.


The town of Railay, accessible only by boat, sits nestled on the eastern side of Phuket bay, just below the town of Krabi. One of our absolute favorite stops in Phuket, it was a most memorable New Years ever. We anchored there with the Kelly's and chose to witness the events of the evening from our boats such as fire juggling and ongoing techno music to dance the night away. Best of all was watching the dreamy display of hundreds of giant paper lanterns launch from shore carrying the hopes and wishes of many off into the New Year. The warm glowing orbs drifted over our heads all night long. Bruce and Kelly boy even made a midnight dinghy run to capture one, who wasn't able to carry those good thoughts as far as it thought it could. And no New Year would be complete without fireworks of which we could see no less than 3 displays from our vantage point. Truly spectacular.

Railay is also home to some world famous rock climbing. It was the perfect opportunity to drag out, dust off our own climbing harnesses and give them the chance to be put to their intended use, not their more frequent task of climbing up the mast. Best of all it gave us a chance to introduce Tristan, Matthew and the Kelly's to this new and exciting experience. There is nothing like challenging yourself to new limits and then be able to look back out across the ocean and sweeping views from a new point of view.

One climb in particular takes you on a hike across the island, around the point, down the beach, then scramble back up through a rock cave, only to abseil down a cliff all before you can begin. Tremendous.

Last but not least, we heard that there was a baby elephant, just up the road in Krabi, that like to take a walk on the beach everyday and play in the water. Who could pass that up. Matthew, Tristan and their pal Soleil from s/v Luna didn't waste a second feeding bananas to, climbing on, sliding off, swimming with and bathing this 5 year old pachyderm. An experience to last them a lifetime.
Tristan atop and elephant in Krabi


The capital of Thailand. A hustling and bustling city like any other. Freeways and high rises dotting the skyline. A brand new international airport boasting the tallest air traffic control tower around, an elevated light rail Skytrain system and an underground Metro subway, and yet you will still see an elephant and owner riding atop, walking down the street. It was here that managed to see three of the main buddha's out of dozens of bejeweled and bedazzling temples that still manage to impress an aura of peace and tranquility, despite the throngs of those there to pay homage or simply gawk.
Wat Phra Kaew & the Grand Palace

Yaksha standing guard over people and palace.

Wat Phra Kaew also known as Temple of the Emerald Buddha, compete with gleaming jehdii (stupas),which are mosaic color glass encrusted pillars. Guarded by two mythical giants, yaksha's, the nearly 95 hectare grounds hold over 100 buildings demonstrating 200 years of royal history.

The Emerald Buddha, Phra Kaew Morakot, barely visible, at only 75 cm in size, sits high atop a nearly two story adorned alter that is surrounded by gold and mosaics of colored mirror pieces. What he may lack in size he makes up for in style. Always cloaked in royal robes for each of the three seasons, hot, cold, and rainy. Every wall, pillar and square inch of ceiling is entirely covered in handpainted murals depicting scenes from every way of life and nature.

Grand Palace, former residence of the monarchs. While we were visiting the country of Thailand, the King's sister had passed away. The day we chose to visit the Grand Palace they were having a wake for her so the local Thai residents could view her. The throngs of subjects there to pay their respects had to be second to that of Princess Di.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho home to hundreds of buddha images starting with the 394 gilded images side by side surrounding the grounds displaying both Ayuthaya or Sukhothai features.

Of most interest though must be the tremendous Reclining Buddha. Said to be laying in the last position before he died with the most pleasant expression on his face. There is no angle within the room to take a complete photo of it. This statue nearly bursts out of it's temple. It is 46 meters long and 15 meters high, covered in gold leaf with eyes and the bottom of it's feet complete with intricate Mother of Pearl inlay. 108 different characteristics of Buddha or laksana shown across his feet.

Much of grounds hold other Buddhas and places for worship, incense and cleverly folded lotus flowers everywhere. Rising high into the sky are many more stupas entirely covered again with amazing mosaics of tiles and colored glass that create a shimmering spire reaching for the heavens or nirvana I suppose. The remains of King Rama III can be found in the larger ones with the sons in the smaller ones.

Wat Pho itself is headquarters to the preservation and teachings of traditional Thai medicine. You too can receive a relaxing hands on experience right there.

Joe Louis Puppet Theater - Natayasala

One extra special outing took us to to witness a traditional lakhon lek, or puppet theater. The fun and whimsical story about the battles between demons and gods, warrior monkeys and humans, the churning of the ocean milk and how the solar and lunar eclipse came to be are played out by 3 foot high puppets, each controlled by 3 people. The music, costumes and refined abilities to make these creatures come to life were stunning. What made it extra special for us was the boys recent completion of the book Master Puppeteer for school. This really brought it to life. The story portrayed in the play was then later the same story that we saw throughout Cambodia as well, carved deep into the walls of Angkor Wat.

Hanuman the warrior monkey & puppeteers.

These were just a few of the many adventures that we had in the two quick months that we visited Thailand. And we only began to scratch the surface of one small corner of this diverse country. There was the border run to Myanmar that Bruce took with the Kelly's to extend their Visa's, the many expats we met who got stuck there and may never leave, tuk tuk rides, the familiar sound of long tails, the massage parlors, the kathoey cabaret and thai boxing. We could write for days about all the fabulous food. We will never tire of Tom Yum Gai, kaengs (curries) to coconut sweets found at open air markets, yam hua plii - spicy banana leaf salads, deep fried bugs, furry rambutan fruits to chewy squid on a stick. There were our favorite locals we came to know and love. We will miss the familiar "wai" or traditional prayer like greeting with palms pressed together in the shape of a lotus flower. Most importantly, they are a culture that believe in "sanuk" or fun, that is why they are always smiling.

Sanuk we did have.

We will miss it all.