Day 72, Year 5: Riding the Local Bus
Date: Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Weather: Mostly Sunny Day, Winds NE 10-15
Location: Nai Harn Bay, Phuket Island, Thailand

Believe it or not, after being here in Thailand last year and this, we had our first experience riding on a local bus today. And after the harrowing experience of driving in a rental car here in the crazy traffic with motorbikes popping up everywhere, riding the slow bus was wonderful. There are car taxis here and tuk-tuks. Tuk-tuks are pick-up trucks with a roof over the back and benches to sit on. They charge 200 Baht (about $6 plus US dollars) to take you to town. The local busses look exactly the same except just a little bigger and often the driver is open air, not in a cab. They charge 40 Baht (about $1.30 US, but they do go soooooooo sloooooooow. Oh well, I liked the change of pace. We were not going all the way to Phuket town today, but just to Ao Chalong where we were hoping to finally get our money transfer to the Bank of Scotland to allow us to anchor in the Chagos islands, buy some whole wheat flour, get some fishing supplies, and have lunch with Gerry and Donna of Scot Free II. We think, we hope, that we were successful with the bank transfer this time, but we will not know for sure for three to five days. That is how long the transfer takes, so says the bank here. We did get the whole wheat flour and fishing supplies and then Donna and Gerry surprised us by picking us up in their little rental car. They were supposed to return it at 1 o’clock, but at the last minute they decided to keep it for another day. They graciously drove us back to Nai Harn after we stopped for a mid-afternoon lunch. We drove from Ao Chalong to Nai Harn and Gerry just stopped at one of the many restaurants along the way. His choice was superb. It was a little place called The Banana. The menu was written only in Thai and French, but Gerry is our French expert and we had some of the best food either of us have had at very low Thai prices.

Gerry and Donna delivered us to Ao Sane, the little resort on Jungle Beach where we had our Christmas Eve dinner. We had decided to take the dinghy in there today instead of the main beach because when we headed toward the main beach we heard the breakers rolling in hard. The change to Jungle Beach meant we didn’t have to brave the breaking waves, but it was near low tide and we had to drag our dinghy far up the beach in very soft sand. The wheels would do us no good, so we just had to pull. The pulling was tough and Mark pulled something in his back this time. So now we both need to watch those backs carefully for the next few days. We are starting to wonder about the sanity of buying such a heavy motor to add to an already heavy dinghy. Normally we can handle it, but today we actually had to enlist the help of a couple of other cruisers. This anchorage is lovely but the challenge of getting ashore has been tough for us.

We ordered fresh water from Ao Sane on Jungle Beach and will go pick that up tomorrow at 11:30 am. I will stay in the water with the dinghy and Mark will carry the jugs out so we don’t have to fight pulling the dinghy up on the beach again. Once we have the water in our tanks, we will have most everything we need before taking off for India. We still need to buy fresh food, but other supplies seem to be in control. Of course, as soon as I say that, I’m sure I’ll find something that we are missing.

Our friends Robert and Tina of Shirena were able to check into the net today with a relay from Fatty on Wild Card. Later in the day we got an email from Robert on Shirena saying that he and Fatty now have a daily radio schedule and that will help them to not feel so alone. Shirena is still experiencing little problems here and there, but it seems the weather has settled a bit. If it settles too much and they have to motor, they might have to divert to the port of Galle in Sri Lanka to get fuel. They are hoping not, but the winds will make the decision.

I’ll end this log with news from other good friends. Eric and Patsy Decker are friends of ours from the time we lived in Salisbury, Maryland. This morning when Mark was online checking email, he got a Skype text message from Patsy. She and Eric are down at the bottom of the world in Ushuaia on Tierra del Fuego, the southern-most city in the world, waiting for their ship to leave for Antarctica. The amazing thing was the technology involved in this little Skype text messaging session. We are sitting in a bay in Thailand using a device that looks like a memory stick that allows us to connect to the internet. Patsy and Eric are half way around the world in one of the far southern outposts of civilization getting ready to depart for Antarctica and we can just text chat via Skype. I guess it really is 2010.