Friday, 12 August 2011

EXPLORING PHANG NGA BAY. August 2011

Brother Vernon arrived on the 24th from Perth to spend a few weeks with us so after topping up on some great Thai food we headed back out into beautiful Phang Nga Bay again. This time to explore some spots we've heard about but not been to yet.
First stop was at the northern Hong group where we anchored late on the 28th at Panak. Vern and Jo visited the area in January after our joint visit in Vietnam so we didn't go to Kho Pan Yi stilt village as they did that tour then. Off we stooged to the north east corner of the bay and in beautiful conditions we anchored at Chong Lat. Dingying upriver we found a healthy and productive oyster farming area. Some hard bargaining saw us loaded with fresh oysters for dinner. A young fisherman dropped by with a shark and some lovely prawns for a bargain so we had a good supply of local seafood laid in.
Hen and Chicken island again provided some lovely snorkeling before we headed upriver to Krabi. We intended to go right up to the town but chickend out after running onto a sand bank. The rising tide assisted in getting us off again quite quickly but the tide was nearly done so w elected to anchor at the Ferry jetty and take a taxi into town.
Krabi is a big sprawling place so we didn't see much but it certainly looks interesting. Thais do amazing things with traffic lights ....

A long tail bought us back to the dingy we had left tied to the ferry dock. With the tide now out it was easy to see where we grounded on the sand...there are lots of sand banks!!. Going up river would be possible but stressful! The anchorage just upriver from the jetty was very comfortable and the trip to the city by taxi was easy. It is possible to clear in and out of Thailand here and its a good spot to remember.
Headed to Bamboo group and snorkeled again. This time the conditions were excellent and it was thoroughly entertaining. Long Beach on the north east side of Phi Phi was our choice for anchorage overnight as the southwesterly swell was evident and Phi Phi anchorages doubtful. Long beach proved a good anchorage and the meal ashore was delicious. Perfect conditions.
Vern relaxing after a dive at Koh Rok Nok
Onward to Phi Phi Don where a visit to the bay would not be complete without cocktails on the beach at sundown and a good foot massage. We suffered for our desires though because Taipan rolled like a pig all night in the SW swell. Off at sparrows  for somewhere sheltered....Rok Nok! Ok so it is a bit more distance south but the swell wont get into the channel at this angle!
It was a long sail / motor and conditions were not that great. There was less than 2 miles visibility, the worst we have seen in Thailand.  We did however catch a nice Spanish Mackerel and a Dorado, so more fresh fish to keep us going. Anchored in the chanel we had a reasonable night sleep and lo and behold the morning was heavenly. One of those really lovely days. Donned our gear and even broke out the hookah to head off to the north eastern side for a dive. The water was the clearest I had ever seen in Thailand! Absolutly fabulous. Vern was pretty impressed with the amount of live coral after recently diving in Honduras.
Thursday morning we reluctantly headed out to Koh Lanta Old Town on the south east side. The weather was still gorgeous but we needed to keep moving. Friday we hired motorbikes and rode the island roads to Saladan at the top end. Had lunch and toured around. Very easy place to ride a bike as there is no bridge to the island so the vehicle traffic is quite limited.
Left Lanta early on Saturday to head back to Yacht Haven. Sailed 60 NM in two legs all the way to the northern tip of Koh Noi. Was probably one of the best sailing days we've had in the Bay in 5 years!
Sunday we had another leisurely sail into Yacht Haven Marina in time for dinner at Coconuts.
Monday we hired a car and set off to explore the east coast. Laem Sak fish restaurant happened to be our first stop and we realized that this was the village adjacent to our anchorage at Chong Lat the previous week. We had a seafood meal at the jetty restaurant which was very nice and continued on towards Krabi and Ao Nang. Spent the night at Viewson bungalows on the beachfront. headed out early for breakfast in Krabi town and on towards Surat Thani.  diverted late in the day to Khao Sok national park and spent the night at Riverside Cottages. Rustic but comfortable. We were all really ill by Wednesday morning with some nasty gut bug...food or bug..don't know....! Anyway it was not an option to stay longer. We headed to Takua Pa to find a pharmacy and get drugs!!
Arrived back at Yacht Haven at 100pm and fell back into bed. Vern had to fly out at 1.00am Thursday morning so he got 8 hours recuperation on drugs before we took him to the airport and said our farewells. We improved fairly rapidly from midnight so I hope he did too!!
Sad to say goodbye