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AT LEAST THE FOOD WAS GOOD...

  or

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS, EAT THAI FOOD

YEAR 1

November 2012 - October 2013

Thailand

Written in Malaysian Borneo, October through December 2015


We’re not sure if there are any MIGRATIONS readers left... after all, we haven't posted an update for three years. But if anyone is still out there, we imagine you are probably asking What the hell happened to you guys?

Believe me, we ask the same thing.

You might remember – but I won’t blame you if you don’t – that in 2012 we travelled 6,000 miles westward from Fiji (the opposite direction we wanted to go) to do a major refit on Migration in Thailand. Why Thailand? Well, let’s just say we received poor information about the quality and cost of work there. That led us to making the worst decision of our cruising life.

Being on the hard is rarely fun. Migration was in the boatyard or marina for 1 week shy of 2 years! In this update, I promise not to rant (too much) about boat work in Thailand. You can read about that here. I’ll simply say, DO NOT DO A REFIT IN THAILAND. If you want to know why, it’s all in the link above.

So I’ll try to keep this update on a cheerier note. And the cheeriest note of all is that we are on the water and sailing once again!

I usually develop a theme for each update. This one will be different. Since we have so much catching up to do, I’ll just run through the highlights of our life in Thailand – emphasizing the fun and interesting bits and downplaying the fact that six days a week we were working in the boatyard and pretty miserable with how things were going.

JANUARY - MARCH 2013
Migrations 21 left us in November 2012 in Krabi on the Thai mainland. After a trip back to the US for the holidays, we returned in late January and sailed across Phang Nga bay to Phuket (pronounced Poo-ket). We  spent the next one and a half months getting our bearings around the large island, receiving contractor quotes for painting and fiberglassing, and trying to figure out where we would do our haulout. For various reasons, the Coconuts boatyard in Ao Chalong which we’d planned on using turned out to be a bad idea. There were few other options. A trimaran is not a common type of boat and most boatyards have never hauled one. We can’t go out on a travel lift like a monohull or a catamaran, and we don’t fit on every trailer.

Finally, after many measurements, diagrams, and calculations – and a bit of begging – Derrick, the marina and boatyard manager at Ao Po Grand Marina, agreed to haul us. It was far more expensive than we had planned (50% more than we'd paid in New Zealand), but it turned out to be one of our best decisions. More on that later.

On 12 March 2013, Migration was pulled out of the water and placed in the far corner of the Ao Po Grand Marina Boatyard. On the same day, we moved into East Coast Ocean Villas -- a condominium complex a 1/2 mile (600 meters) from the boatyard. For the first time in 10 years for me, and 24 years for Alene, and the first time ever together, we were living on land. The 2-bedroom condo was about 1100 sq feet (100 square meters) and it felt HUGE. Where is the box with the kitchen gadgets? I’d ask. In the aft cabin, Alene would reply, meaning the back bedroom. It seemed so far to walk the 14 feet (4.3 meters) down the hall to get there. Though the rent at East Coast was more than we'd planned (like everything else in Phuket), it was another good decision. It turned out to be a nice place to live – and escape to – during the trials that lay ahead.

 

Migration lines up with the ramp, takes a long trip to the back of the yard, and is finally tucked away in the corner.


East Coast Ocean Villas. The arrow points to our unit. Sunrises were beautiful from our temporary home.


The landscaping at the condo was gorgeous. This
was what we saw when we walked out our door.

We also rented a small local one-bedroom apartment for US$60/month. Very minimal with an outdoor kitchen and a squat toilet. But it wasn’t for living in -– over the next weeks we moved everything on Migration into it. And when we say everything, we mean it. Everything came out of the boat except the engine, the tanks, the oven, and the kitchen sink. Nearly all of it went into storage. Settee cushions, clothes and kitchen gear, electronics, and other delicate items came to the condo. 


Here's the local apartment we rented.


We started unloading even before we were on the hard... and continued with many truckloads afterwards.


Storage filled up with each load... and ended up very full. This all fits on a sailboat?

 
 
The mast and rigging came off. Jon from s/v Ocelot helped us remove the masts (we also hired a crane!).
This was the first time we've pulled the masts without a professional rigger.

We needed to cover the boat. After much research, we found that tents were twice the price we'd expected. Nevertheless,we had to have one, so we purchased a huge custom-made tent: 52 feet long by 32 wide by 20 tall (16 x 10 x 6 meters).


A horde of workers erect the tent over mast-less Migration.


Voila! Protection! We needed the tent because the rains would start in 2 to
3 months. But it also provided much-needed shade in the tropical heat.


Phuket is a big island with little public transport,
so we bought a used Honda motorbike.


A speeded-up trip from where we lived toward town.

With everything prepared, work began. If you are interested in what we did, you can find the list here.  The total list had 165 items on it. As is common with a project this big, the list grew even as some items were crossed off; over 100 additional items were added. Some of those items were enormous projects, as you will see below.

 

MARCH - APRIL: THE FIRST MONTHS OF WORK - a quick look


Every piece of deck hardware was removed: hatches, ports, portlights, pulpits, tracks, turning blocks, mast
steps... etcetera etcetera etcetera.


And every fastener and fitting had to be labeled
and bagged or boxed.



One of the high priority items was removing and replacing the 9 chainplates that hadn't been replaced in Mexico.
The stainless steel was then 44 years old and the sections where it went through the deck could not be inspected.
(Chainplates are long metal straps bolted to the boat that provide attachment points for the cables that support the masts.)


How lucky are we that we sailed as far as we have without
losing our mast due to chainplate failure?!

 

REMOVING THE TOPSIDE FIBERGLASS AND REPAIRING THE WOOD

 




For 44-year old plywood, the hulls were in pretty good shape. Just a couple of spots needed repairing.

We tore Migration apart, sanded her down and started rebuilding her, finding new problems along the way.





 


Hmmm... looks like the wood is a little soft here...


Yep.


While the chaos raged on the exterior, the interior was stripped down, repaired, painted, and varnished.


This was all going on while it was very HOT.

 

TOO MUCH FUN

Since we were renting such a nice condo, we needed to make good use of it. We knew the crews of several boats in Phuket and we celebrated many friends’ birthdays by hosting pool and barbecue parties at the condo. This led to an interesting exchange with the condominium homeowners association president -- he was upset because...  perhaps we were having too much fun? I was called to meet with him in his unit where he sat me down and gravely told me “we have a big problem”, and “you were using 60% of the pool”, and “I distinctly heard talking and laughing”. I apologized profusely and promised we would never have fun again.

I admit, I did not keep my promise.


The evil pool parties: I distinctly see people talking and laughing.

 

THE TENT FROM HELL

We decided to buy a tent because we thought we would only be using it for about 6 months and then we could sell it. In the end, it would cost less than renting one. However, when we told Lek-Star, the tent company, that we were planning to use it for 6 months, they decided to cut corners. Twenty days after the tent went up, with all hatches, ports, and portlights removed, and part of the fiberglass peeled away from the topside exposing bare wood, the first thunderstorm of the season came through. Within minutes the tent began collapsing. It was instant chaos with tent supports buckling, water pouring down, and thunder and lightning crashing all around us. Luckily it was before 5pm and the workers hadn't left. They ran around holding up the supports and grabbing ropes to try to create temporary stays. I ran to the forward port bow to keep a bent piece of steel tubing from punching a hole in the deck. A lightning bolt hit a transformer just next to the boat and a shower of sparks cascaded onto the road while the power cable fell in front of a truck. Alene ran under the boat frantically trying to get a call through to the tent company. Of course, this was the day before the biggest holiday weekend of the year (more about Songkran later).


The only photo we took during the chaos.

Lek-Star came out the next day and did a half-ass job fixing the tent. This was the start of months of attempts to get a tent we could rely upon. Lek-Star would fix whatever broke but not what hadn't. With the next thunderstorm, another support would buckle. It was infuriating and worrisome as so much of the boat's structure was exposed to the elements. Many times we got up in the middle of the night and went out in the pouring rain to check the tent -- not that we could have done anything!


Every side support failed over the next month.


We had to buy huge tarps to cover the boat every night
even though we had paid thousands of dollars for a tent.


We had to poke holes in our brand-new tent
to keep it from collapsing from the weight
of the rain it collected.

Eventually, Lek-Star beefed up the supports, but in the end we hired another company to install wire stays and side curtains.

 
With the tent properly supported we could stand inside during a downpour and feel, if not confident, a whole
lot less worried.

We had problems with the tent until we took it down 19 months later. The whole experience was a perfect example of the problems with having work done in Thailand. Thai businesses and workers will often do just enough to get by... never mind that a little extra effort will solve the whole problem and not require repair after repair after repair. It is hard to express the frustration and aggravation this caused when we were trying to get work done on the boat.

But on to happier subjects....

 

GETTING WET THE GOOD WAY -- NEW YEAR, THAI STYLE

I mentioned that the tent's initial test of our patience came the day before Songkran weekend, 10 April. Songkran is the Thai New Year. Thailand has its own calendar -- including their own year. For example, 2013 is 2556 in Thailand. Songkran is celebrated with massive water fights on the streets of the cities. Dousing with water is a show of blessings and good wishes. People also smear perfumed talc on people's faces. The nice thing about it is, except in touristy areas where the farangs (white foreigners) hang out, it is all done with good humor and little malice. It is not a war, but a spreading of good luck. So when you shoot someone with a water blaster, you do it with a smile. And, similarly, when they dump ice cold water on your head, they do it good naturedly.




 

VISA RUN

We'd applied for Thailand long-stay visas when we were in California at the end of 2012. Because I'm over 50, it was easy for me to get a retirement visa. However, Alene was only 49 so she could only get a multi-entry visa which meant she had to leave the country every three months. Her first "visa run" was an inexpensive flight to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. She went off on her own while I stayed to continue working on the boat and managing the workers.

 says ADR: KL Visa Run

 


LIFE ON LAND

By May, we had eased (or been wedged?) into a routine. Monday through Saturday we'd be on the boat by 8:00, managing the workers all day (often working alongside them when it was a particularly crucial job like fiberglassing), communicating with the contractors by phone (or in person on the infrequent days they showed up), and trying to work though our own huge list of projects. Lunch was spent at the wonderful Hareefeen Restaurant (more on that below). We'd head back to the condo when the workers knocked off between 5:00 and 6:00, mix our favorite cooling drink of soda water and pomegranate juice with ice (living with a full-size fridge and freezer we had ICE all the time!), and head to the pool to swim laps, relax, and watch the eastern sky reflect the colors of the sunset happening on the other side of the island. We'd have a bite to eat, either leftovers or a salad or takeout (doesn't make a whole lot of sense to cook in Thailand), then to bed. We were so tired every night that neither of us read a book for an entire year.

   

On Sunday, we would often jump on the motorbike to see some sights. Every other week, our friends Jon and Sue on s/v Ocelot would come over Saturday evening and stay until Monday morning. They were in the middle of their own refit from hell in Chalong -- an hour's drive south.


Contemplating the day...


I danced the sun down on May Day in my hot weather kit.


Sunday brunch and adventures with the Ocelots.

 

WILDLIFE

Living ashore meant we came in contact with things that also lived on land. Thailand has a lot of them. There was a whole menagerie right outside our door.


Many geckos! This one lived behind the unit number
for a long time. There were always two or three
living inside with us.


Interesting neighbors.


Lots of butterflies, too.


And soon-to-be butterflies.


Big spiders...


...and beautiful beetles.


Friendly praying mantis.


Lots of frogs, too. After rains, we enjoyed frog symphonies.



And snakes! Occasionally there were black cobras found under the condos, but we never saw one of those.


For months there was a bird's nest in the bush outside our front door. Unfortunately, one day we returned to
find the nest (and tree!) destroyed. Probably by the 3-foot monitor lizard we surprised on our doorstep.


Perhaps the monitor lizard also left us this half-a-rat?


On a nicer note, a fifteen-minute motorbike ride
brought us to the Gibbon Rehabilitation Center.

 

TOO MUCH FILLER!

Work continued. By May we had stripped the old fiberglass and re-glassed all 6 topsides (3 hulls x 2 sides each -- over 70 square meters [750 sq feet]). Though we'd had some problems, work was progressing. However, this is where the cultural gap diverted events in a southerly direction.

After fiberglassing a boat, you "fill and fair". This requires troweling a thick mixture of epoxy and fillers and then carefully sanding to a smooth surface.  Migration is an old boat made of plywood and fiberglass. She never looked like a boat made in a mold, and we didn't want her to. However, Thai contractors and workers are very attached to things looking good. That doesn't mean they will last or be strong, but a smooth shiny finish is important. So, no matter how many times we said "too much filler!", we just heard the same reply, "Don't worry, Boss. We sand off". But they didn't sand it off. It kept building up thicker and thicker. We wanted a boat that was light and strong. Filler is heavy and brittle. Finally, after weeks of arguing, we called in a Thai friend who is also a contractor. She arranged a meeting with our contractor (Gig) and explained the situation. He asked "What do you want me to do?" Our reply: "Sand it off." And they did. A waste of materials and several weeks of work.


The filler goes on.


The filler was this thick in some places!


It took five days to sand off the filler. It was like winter with 'snow' everywhere. What a waste.


Work then continued on the deck. Poor Migration... stripped down to bare bones.


There were dozens of projects progressing at the same
time. We started in on repairing the punky wood at the
base of the mizzen.


It was so hot. Thank god for big fans.


Celebrating the primer coat on the first of three hulls.


An example of a somewhat busy work day.

BETTER NOW THAN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEA

Just as we were finishing the topsides, I decided I'd better investigate some peeling paint in the engine room. Oh, the little things that set so much in motion...


How do you go from this...


...to this?

When I bought Migration in 1991, I found a leak in one of her two diesel tanks. I ended up removing one tank and replacing the other. She never smelled like diesel, so I thought everything was fine. We found some diesel-smelling wood in the keel when we refiberglassed it in Mexico in 2007. We sealed it up and thought no more of it. Until now.

The wood we tore out of Migration's hull was not rotted. And only some of it was a bit damp. What I think happened is that the diesel had slowly migrated through the plywood, destroying the glue and delaminating the ply. We peeled away layer on layer until 80% of the main hull below the waterline was simply gone. Only frames and stringers remained. Luckily, these were made of solid wood and most were in good shape. Still, we replaced some and added a few frames for additional strength.


Migration's 46-year old hull gave in to the slow attack of decades-old diesel.


We were not happy.


It was the rainy season and we needed to make sure the rest
of the hull was dry and didn't absorb water from the humid air
before we started rebuilding. We baked Migration's underside with hot
halogen lights every night.

 

SAVED BY SUSTENANCE

Thai food. Oh... Thai food. It is, in our opinion, the best part of the country. After all those years of fairly mediocre cuisine in Central America, the South Pacific islands, and New Zealand (no need to write me with complaints, Kiwis, you just have to face the fact that your wonderful country is on the lower end of the culinary scale), being in Thailand was heaven. The food is exquisite – and the best food is often from a very, very cheap street vendor or local restaurant.

One of the unexpected advantages of hauling out at Ao Po was Hareefeen Restaurant. There are very few restaurants in the area, but we didn’t need anything besides Hareefeen. It was right across the street from the boatyard and we ate there nearly every day.

After about 3 weeks, we'd eaten everything on the menu. We had a Thai friend tell Pon, the owner who spoke no English, that we were no longer going to order off the menu. We would simply order neung (one) or seong (two) ahan glan wan surprise (lunch surprise) and she could make whatever she wanted. She did. Even after two years we were still, occasionally, served new dishes. Pon was happy to expose us to interesting foods and we were more than happy to eat them: soups made of flowers, salads with tiny dried fish, noodles with curry sauce and served with five different raw vegetables (none of which we’d ever seen before -- many look like tree leaves). When we caught a cold or the flu, Pon made a delicious and healthy chicken vegetable noodle soup. When we had friends visit, we’d have plah sam rot - a whole fish in a beautiful three flavor sauce. How we love Thai food.

 


Pon's restaurant "Hareefeen" is directly across from where Migration lived in the boatyard.


Pon and her son, Hareefeen, in the kitchen.


I spent many days watching Pon cook, hoping to absorb some of her talent. We spent so much time at Pon's
that we'd regularly help her out by serving water or menus to customers when she was busy.


A carved vegetable of some kind... stuffed with chicken. A beautiful and delicious creation.

 
Enjoying our meal. I'm holding up one type of the mysterious leaves we were often served.


We made a sign in English for Pon's restaurant to help her attract more non-Thai-speaking customers.

 

PON'S CATS



Pon bred cats, so there were always plenty of cats and kittens to play with. Alene loves cats!

 

STREET FOOD

Half the Thai economy must be driven by street food. Everywhere there are stands and sam-loh stalls (moveable food carts built on a motorbike with a sidecar) selling food and drink. One of our all time favorite meals in Thailand came from four different vendors: som tam (spicy green papaya salad) and chicken satay from one, peanut sauce from another, ho muk (spicy fish steamed in a banana leaf) from a third, and khanom (dessert) from a fourth. Dessert might be something like flan (but possibly made with yam or coconut), khao niew mamuang (sticky rice and mango), or khao niew dam (black sticky rice with coconut milk).


The location, and chef, of the best som tam in all of Phuket! Great fried chicken and satay, too.


Our very favorite street food meal.


We don't love all Thai food. Thai's are very fond of
food on sticks -- hot doggy-things and fish balls, and
squid -- which were not to our taste.


We tried the crickets (left), but we didn't eat the meal worms or grubs.


These are not green worms. Thai desserts often feature
gelatinous bits made out of tapioca or sago. They are pretty
good with coconut milk poured over them.

The local markets are full of known and unknown foods. And usually very cheap. A big bunch of basil was about 5 US cents! It was fun to get to know the vendors. One of the first phrases Alene learned was mai ao toong which means I don't want a bag. This is because, like everywhere we've been in SE Asia, people will put everything in a plastic bag. Even a single carrot. We've been to scores of markets now and have never seen anyone shop with their own canvas bag. When we used our mai ao toong phrase, the twitters would go down the line of old vendor ladies who would repeat our limited Thai to each other like we were star students.


Locally-sourced pork. He cuts the piece you want right off the carcass.


So much to buy...


Beautiful rambutan and dragon fruit.

 

A BIG BIRTHDAY

June 10th (2013) was ADR's 50th birthday. I planned a weekend getaway surprise and we left the boat workers unsupervised for a day and a half.

 says ADR: 50th Birthday

 

 

FINISHING THE HULL

The single diesel tank I installed to replace the original leaking ones was now 20 years old. Since the boat was completely torn apart, it made sense to replace it. We designed a new one and had it fabricated out of aluminum.


The old tank. Now you see it...


Now you don't!


And, presto! A new tank installed!

Now it was time to replank the hulls.




And just like that, the hull was sealed up again.


Then with many hands, we fiberglassed the new planking...


added a couple of coats of clear epoxy...


and a sealing barrier coat. Now we were ready to
continue where we left off!

The surprise hull project -- ripping apart the hull, drying everything, framing, planking, fiberglassing, and barrier coats -- took over 3 months, including many rain delays. But finally it was finished and we moved on to the original project list.


The deck was soon finished and primed.


The mizzen mast was whole again.

 

THE WORKERS

Dealing with the workers was rarely easy. They spoke no English and their boss, our contractors, were rarely on site. Monitoring the quality of their work was essential and getting them to do things our way ("strong is more important than pretty") on any given day was no guarantee that things would be done the same way the next day. It was extremely frustrating. Still, we liked many of the workers. They worked hard, although not effectively, and they were often very fun. We would laugh and joke and share ice creams. On days where we achieved milestones, we would buy a case of beer to share around. Still, we don't miss those days.


Thais, like most Asians, hate being in the sun and
will go to great lengths to cover up.


Quite the fashionable young man.


Protective gear.


Sharing a video on a phone.


Arriving at work.


An excellent chisel handle and an interesting shoe repair.


Cee was deaf and used to communicating without
words, so we actually had long conversations with him.


The Thai-English dictionary was essential.



Siestas were never missed.

 

THAI LIFE

Thailand feels very much like a foreign country. The west coast of Phuket is full of bars and resorts and gated communities of ex-pats, but avoid those areas and you are definitely in a different place.


Signs of the reverence for the royal family are everywhere.


As well as for Buddhism.


There are lots of local festivals... often with fashion
shows and children singing or dancing.


Can you imagine seeing a school bus like this in
your neighborhood?


Need to get some drawers home? Load it onto your motorbike.

 
The local broom seller.


People often take their birds in cages to work. It's
considered good luck.


Everyone takes off their shoes before entering a home.
A very civilized custom.


Watch those electrical wires.

 

ENGLISH AND THAI

We tried hard to learn Thai and ended up with a vocabulary of a couple hundred words and some sense of the grammar. The difficult part is the tones. A word in Thai is said with one of five tones: neutral, high, low, rising, or falling. To us it seems like one word can have five different meanings depending on which tone is used with it. To a Thai, of course, they are five completely different words. I cannot relate how many times I said something to a Thai person and was met with a blank stare. I repeated it. Same stare. I repeated it with a little more emphasis. Nothing. And again. Nothing. Finally, I would pull out my phone and show them the word with Google Translate. Oh! they'd exclaim. And then say the word that I swear I had just repeated six times. As farangs, we heard things so differently from the native speakers.

Google Translate did an okay job some of the time for spoken language (but certainly not always: one of our most amusing pastimes at lunch was to speak Thai words into the phone and see what Translate spit back at us). To give you an idea of the difficulties of Thai translation, here is a phrase I copied from a friend’s Facebook page:

    กลับบ้านหน้าเบิกบานอย่างแรงนิจัดหั้ยแล้วนะยาย

Google translated it as:

    Back home in New buoyant force, fire me Grandma.

I have no idea what it really says.

Because we'd planned on being in Thailand for a relatively short time, and working in the boatyard during that time, we didn't bother to learn the alphabet. What's our excuse? It has 44 consonants and 28 vowel forms!

 
The Thai Alphabet (part of it).

This was the first country either of us had lived in that used a different alphabet. And that made things difficult. It gave me great appreciation for non-Latin alphabet language speakers (I'm sure there must be an interesting word for that), who visit the USA.

Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country that has never been a colony or protectorate of a Western power. It has always been independent. Thais are very proud people. Though English is taught in school, it is surprising how few people speak English.

Most of Asia provides great entertainment with public signs in English. The Thais seem to have a great knack for making us laugh or shake our heads in wonder.


This sign is on the gate of the condo complex we lived in.
Luckily there were no trespassers so we didn't have to witness an
orisectytion.


The English is fine... but clearly the children we need to
watch out for are very scary.


Do throw things in the basket.
Do not throw things in the basket.


The history of this village is very important. Read and remember.



Marketing in Thailand.  The Blossoming of Vitality!

Menus are often a bit difficult to decipher. This one was the best we'd ever seen.



Waiter, here's our order: We'll start with Incandescent Light Salad and Egg Salad Was Fantastic Horse. For the main course, we'll have Fried Shrimp Sound Like A Plug and... yes, Streaky The Grass. For dessert, we must try your Etc. IX. Or whatever.


Shoot. Forgot to order the Brown Soup with Pork Guts.
(This last item was at a restaurant in the food court of
a mall. I'd love to put it up in a mall in the US.)

 

UNDER THE GUN

We continued work on dozens of projects. We were months behind now and hoped to finish the final coat of painting by the end of September. 


Good thing we aren't too big... work is often squishy.


Work continued on the interior until, miraculously, almost everything was finished (Note: it is impossible to get
everything finished in Thailand... 90% is about the best you can hope for.)


The finished interior. We covered everything so we
wouldn't destroy the new varnish while we continued
with all the other projects

 

LIFE CONTINUES

We used our Sundays and some evenings for fun. It helped to keep us sane.


 

 

PAINT PROBLEMS

We were finally ready to paint the boat. The only problem? Our contractor had not ordered the paint with enough lead time. We continued on our projects hoping it would arrive. We'd already booked tickets for the beginning of October to visit friends in various countries on our way back to the USA for the holidays. We soon realized we would not have enough time to supervise the painting of the topcoat; and we certainly were not going to let a crucial project like this be done without our presence. We resigned ourselves to not finishing this critical part of the refit and told our contractor that he would have to wait until next year to finish the topcoat. He wasn't happy, but then it was his fault for not ordering the paint early enough. This would have very expensive repercussions in 2014.


We covered Migration with tarps and left her to rest while
we flew off for a break away from the work.

 

AWAY TO CATCH OUR BREATH

On 2nd October (my birthday) we flew from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur and then on to London. Over the past few years, the loss of parents, relatives, and friends had brought home how many people we missed. We decided to spend the next four months visiting friends we hadn't seen in years. It was a wonderful trip... but that's another story.

 

THE GOOD PARTS

I said at the beginning of this update that doing our refit in Thailand was the worst decision of our cruising life. It's true. I've skimmed over the absolute misery we were in when contractors were not doing what they promised, when Thai customs refused to release materials, when the tent was collapsing, when the rains were nearly destroying the work we'd accomplished, and when every day presented an argument with workers about the right way to do something, or correcting something done the wrong way. During the bleakest times, I would sometimes say to Alene “I hate Thailand”. Wisely, she'd respond, “No you don’t. You hate doing boat work in Thailand.” And that was true.

Every Thai we met who wasn’t involved in the marine industry, or who we didn’t have business dealings with, was delightful. Fun and friendly, usually kind, helpful, and generous. Phuket, being a major tourist destination, is somewhat ruined by tourism the way similar destinations are (scammers ripping people off, inflated prices, etc.), but the normal people are truly wonderful. We made many friends.

While going through the photos for this update, it reminded me just how interesting Thailand is. There is so much good about it. And much to amaze. Here are some of the things we love.

Thailand has the best bouncy castles we have ever seen.

 
 

Although some of them are slightly scary...


Home-made coconut ice cream vendors who visit just after lunch. Oh, heaven in the boatyard!


Orchids purchased by the kilo for hardly any money at all. And frangipani trees that offer fragrant blossoms
every single day.


After months of driving by, we turn in a drive one day to find a temple with a huge
reclining Buddha.


You don't have to drive far to find yourself in a rubber tree plantation, or alongside an elephant.


And the sea...

There was so much more. Did I mention that the people (except the boat contractors) are wonderful? And the food... well, I think I've covered that. There will be more of both. In Migrations 23, we'll finish our refit. But for now, after reading this, we all deserve a rest...

Be Good. Be Safe. Have Fun.

BB



Where we went January 2012-March 2012 (on the hard afterwards)

231 nautical miles traveled this period.
36,581 nautical miles aboard Migration since leaving Long Beach in June 2005.


THIS MIGRATIONS' DO GOOD:


   Thai food is yum.
        --Anonymous

This site was last updated 03/01/16