Let’s go back in time a few months. May 2013. Phuket. After an overwhelming trip to the Andaman Islands, Iva and I are back in Thailand. We enjoy our first real shower. After cooking three times a day for two months we take a rest, sit down and order our favorite Thai dishes. We don’t forget the juicy burgers and ice-cold beers either. Tourists are everywhere, the beaches aren’t empty anymore, but tourism has its perks. My brother visits again, so do Iva’s parents. It feels nice to be surrounded by family and familiar grounds.
We enjoy the company of our friends. Jose and Ana, owners of Zarco, who I met in Fiji nine years ago. Dutch Chris, iconic figure of Ao Yon Bay and owner of the Andaman Sea Club, a catamaran charter company. The amazing Maillard family on Tsarapenhoat : Arnaud and Katia left their steady life in Reunion Island to buy a 38 foot catamaran in Phuket. On board they home-school their four children. We sometimes struggle to cook for two. They do it every day for six.
More friends fly in from Kuala Lumpur. Andy and Steph, who are responsible for introducing me to Iva, finally make it onto Dali. Jess and Rich join the party and make it another memorable outing to Patong. What a contrast to the past two months spent in a bubble with Iva on Dali!
The Andaman trip has been tiring. We raised anchor almost everyday. I need my lazy days back. So we sail up to Phang Nga Bay, and realize that we haven’t explored it thoroughly. We have gone so far to blow our minds with unexpected images, but Thailand is just as beautiful.
The limestone rocks of Phang Nga Bay. The caves. The secret enclosed bodies of water that we discover everyday. The Thai call them “hongs”, which means “rooms”. OK, we’re not exactly at the end of the world anymore. In most places, hordes of kayaking tourists invade the grounds from ten in the morning to four in the afternoon. That’s my lazy time. The rest is our oars caressing the calm waters of the bay with no one in sight.
My good friend Guy visits from Doha. He was one of the first guests on the boat back in 2009, shortly after I purchased it. At the time I didn’t have the confidence I have now as the captain of Dali. I thought this time everything would go smoothly, especially thanks to Guy’s sailing experience. I had to think again…