This is our third consecutive excursion day in very hot, 95 degree and humid, 80+ percent humidity weather. Our tour was Spectacular Phang Nga Bay. We had to wait in the theater with most of the remainder of the ship excursion passengers because of adjustments to the gangway. Our departure was delayed a little and we still had an almost two-hour drive to reach Phang Nga National Park. The tour guide gave us helpful commentary on the area, its growth, and the terrible affect that the 2004 tsunami had on the eastern side of the island of Phuket (pronounced Pook-et).
We boarded our boat at the Phang Nga Jetty. Getting in was a bit tricky. There were no stairs or gangway. The boat’s side was level to the floating pier and the boat had a roof. You needed to be limber or sit on the side rail and swing your legs around. Some of the passengers had noticeable difficulty but we all made it with only two people sustaining minor leg cuts. The guide brought some anti-septic gel and band-aids to dress the wounds. The boat sped along the river and past some majestic tree-covered limestone mountains. We saw stalactites near the water line and some supposedly ancient wall drawings. Boat traffic seemed heavy but the guide said that weekends and in-season are much busier.
We passed by the Water Village on the way out, only getting a distant glimpse but would stop on the return trip. We passed through the mangrove swamp/forest on the way to Grotto Cave. All vacationers seem to come here to rent a kayak and paddle into the caves and under the arches. There are large service crafts that rent kayaks and serve food to the vacationers. We slowly passed by and took our pictures. We proceeded to the highlight, James Bond Island, previously known as Kao Ping-Gun. This rock island was featured in the 1974 movie, The Man with the Golden Gun. There was much boat activity around and on the beaches, with people walking among the rocks and sand. Landing was not in our itinerary.
After the necessary photos, we returned to Water Village for a brief walk through the maze of small market stalls. The same concerns existed here regarding getting In and out of the boat. No injuries were noted. The weather was too warm and a walk through the markets was quick, because no one wanted to slow down to shop. We got to the other side were an elementary school existed and we got a partially obstructed view of a mosque in the Water Village and easily noticed that contrast in living standards by the condition of most houses there in comparison to the opulent mosque. Even the guide repeated several times in the bus and boat that the river water is not healthy and no one swims in it. In the Water Village, some of the human waste goes directly into the water and the solids are carted away, so he says.
Our last stop was lunch further up river at the Phang Nga Bay Resort. It was the only modern building we had seen the entire trip on the river. A buffet lunch of local cuisine consisted of rice, stir fried vegetables, and fried chicken noodles with shrimp, fried shrimp, spicy soup, watermelon, and pineapple. People were hungry and ate fast, there was no air-conditioning in the lobby banquets rooms only open sliders that caught an occasional warm breeze.
We boarded the bus, which was well air-conditioned, for the return to the ship. Most folks got a little shut-eye time since the guide promised to be quiet so we could rest. As we neared the busy business and residential areas, the late afternoon commuting traffic slowed us down, such that, we arrived back at the pier at 6 o’clock, the supposed disembarking time. One other bus was right behind us. I overheard the security officer tell a staff person to run across to the flea market area on the pier and gather up any remaining passengers or crew. He needed to secure the gangway for departure as soon as the last person boarded.
We immediately got a shower upon returning to our suite and agreed that the posted menus on the TV did not appeal to us. We ordered room service and watched a movie on the TV, finishing just in time for the evening entertainment, Dance Fever, presented by Katia and Zenia. They performed a mix of classic and elegant ballroom dancing and high energy Latin American rhythms sprinkled with a little magic, great background video, and rapid-fire costume changes.
Tomorrow will be the first of three consecutive sea days as we head toward Sri Lanka. We need a slower pace for a few days, but with Pat’s plans for the usual sea day, I don’t hold out for much hope of that happening.
Yours in travel,
Pat & Mac