The final installment of posts about our charter! You can read Summary 1/3 here, or 2/3 here. (For anyone wondering where we actually are — we are leaving Dalat, Vietnam tomorrow morning to head back to Saigon, where we will visit with Eric’s friend. We are considering settling in Saigon for the rest of our trip.)
16. Koh Hong : December 28th, 2014 – Koh Hong was the beginning of our venturing in Phang Nga Bay, a picturesque area that is characterized by towering rocky cliffs and an endless number of small islands. When we first started out on the boat, I found navigating by sight pretty doable. Match what you see in front of you to the islands and land on the chart. Not too hard. But the second I got up here I was lost. There were so many islands that I found it impossible to figure out where we were on the chart at any given time. Good thing we had an expert on board.
We didn’t spend too long at this neat little place. We anchored outside a lagoon, and then took the kayaks in to paddle around. Unfortunately, this was a moment of burnout and kid tension, so we probably didn’t appreciate or enjoy it nearly as much as we might have. Instead, we hunkered down on the boat for dinner and went to bed early. (I guess family tension = no pictures, because we don’t have even one of this spot, even though it was beautiful).
17. Koh Ka Rot : December 29th, 2014 – The next morning, Sawyer and Zach got to ride behind the boat for a while, as we motored north, and got caught in the biggest downpour of our trip. The rain left as quickly as it came. We decided to take the boat down an increasingly narrow stream, into the mangroves, and eventually passed a long-tail boat filled with a young man and a couple kids who motioned for us to follow them. So we continued on the path, getting into shallower and shallower muddy water. We finally reached a small village, right about as we touched bottom. We ended up having to get ourselves turned around, and headed back out the the deeper water as the whole village came out and watched.
Eric also had a fun challenge here, when he navigated the boat in a very narrow gap between two towering islands, where we found a peaceful spot to anchor and chill out for a while. This place was magnificent for kayak exploring. On the way out the next day, Eric and the boys found a big rock to jump off into the ocean. Not for the faint of heart!
18. Ban Laem Sak : December 30th, 2014 – We anchored outside of Ban Laem Sak the next day, and then spent a good amount of time trying to figure out how to get ashore. We wanted provisions, but the water was shallow very far out, so we couldn’t bring the boat close and it was too muddy to bring the skiff in without getting stuck. We finally found a rather treacherous spot to get the skiff to shore, and spent the day walking around this town and gathering water, fruits and vegetables.
When it was time to leave, the tide had gone out further and getting our whole family loaded on the skiff with the groceries was obviously not going to work, as it was far too shallow and muddy. So I ended up taking the kids, and the food and water, in a taxi to a deeper water port up the coast a bit. Eric took the skiff by himself to the boat, and met us at the port. While we were waiting for Eric, Zach dropped one of his shoes off the pier into the mud, twenty feet below. A local kid climbed down and rescued it for him, walking out knee deep in the mud to retrieve the shoe. Zach repaid him with some oranges.
19. Ban Tai / Ban Pak : December 31st, 2014 – This was a fun spot too! We pulled the boat up to a small town and went ashore to walk around. As we were walking around, we ended up on one of the busier roads in the area. A woman pulled over in her motorbike and sidecar (a common mode of transportation here) and asked us (all!) if we needed a ride. We hopped in and she said “Ban Pak?” Of course, we didn’t know where Ban Pak was, but it was New Year’s Eve and I suppose we were feeling adventurous, so we said “Sure!”
She drove a few miles down the road, while her little sidecar squeaked away with the weight of us all, and Eric and I looked at each other, wondering how much further this place was that she was taking us. Eventually she pulled over, as Eric and I sighed with relief, and what do you know: It was a giant festival and concert to celebrate the New Year. It looked like a lot of fun, so Eric and the boys took the road back down to where our boat was anchored, and hopped in the boat to bring it up the coast to the spot where the festival was located. We had a great night exploring the town, another spot that didn’t seem to see many visitors. Our boat was the best seat in the house when we watched the fireworks explode over us at midnight.
20. Ban Laem Sam : January 1st, 2015 – We’d been enjoying these little towns, and so decided to seek out more of them and found ourselves in Ban Laem Sam. We dropped anchor outside a little village, and put the skiff in to check it out. Alex, Sawyer, and I were on the search for a restaurant.
We wandered down the road of the village, and saw a few small stores, but no restaurant. We stopped at one of the stores to get some water, and asked if there was a restaurant around. We finally found someone who spoke English, and he told us there was no restaurant there, but that if we’d wait a minute, someone would bring us some food. We agreed and sat down on a bench outside the store, not sure what to expect. A few minutes later a woman on a motorbike, with a little sidecar food cart, pulled up and cooked us a hot dog, some fried noodles, and some soup.
21. Au Po, Phuket : January 2nd, 2015 – This was the last stop. Eric rented a motorbike for the day, and took Alex for a spin around the area. Aside from that, we didn’t do too much here. We mainly focused on getting things in order for our upcoming departure.
22. Ao Yon, Phuket : The Charter Ends – It was quite an epic time, and it was over. And we all made it back in one piece. On to new things!