Tuesday 30 April 2019

April - Honeymooning with The Mulders 2019

News from the Crew of Matilda
April  2019

For the month of April we are dedicating our blog entirely to 'The Mulder's Honeymoon' in Phuket, Thailand. The month started off full of anticipated excitement of the arrival our daughter and son in law to enjoy a six month belated honeymoon onboard Matilda. Then the month ended in tears as we watched them leave to return to their rat race, but they left brimming with new dreams of their own!

First international flight - boarding pass in hand and a very excited Mrs Mulder!

Mr and Mrs, ready for their flight.

A great shot of Singapore Strait with all the ships at anchor waiting to enter port.

Finally, Phuket - Thailand in their sights.
Just before their arrival we had our share of things going wrong only days prior. Our toilet had a seizure, the water maker wasn’t co-operating, we could smell diesel in their cabin and the fridge was not playing the game. Four big ticket items that kept us on our toes, but Bruce being the super Mr Fixit, he got it all sorted and we were ready on time.

A warm sunset welcome.

A top of terminal 3 in the Sunflower garden at Singapore Airport.

Their Honeymoon suite was prepared as best we could. We had collected a lovely bunch of welcome gifts which fitted nicely into an interesting cane basket we brought, accompanied with a lovely bottle of bubbles for a celebratory drink. Folding towels into swans and a love heart was a challenge but we think it all turned out pretty well. And the Mr & Mrs sign sparkled beautifully in the night light – all set.

The Honeymoon Suite.
Got a hire car the day before and did a nice big grocery shop, loading up with lovely local fresh fruit and vegies. At the airport the next afternoon we were perplexed at the arrivals board. We were seated in the open air arrival ‘hall’ at Phuket’s international airport and the arrival board said their flight would land at gates 5 & 6, we were at gates 3 & 4. So off we went and not long after arriving the board showed their flight had landed, so we waited and we waited and we waited some more. Nobody was coming out of gates 5 & 6. Bruce went back around to gates 3 & 4 and found The Mulder's with very worried looks on their faces thinking we weren’t there and with no local credit on their phones, they couldn’t make a call. Bruce said the smile on their faces was of sheer relief when they saw him, and I was overjoyed as I watched them come into gates 5 & 6 waiting area. Loads of hugs and kisses all round, then everybody in the car and off we went for a 14 day adventure onboard the lovely Matilda around Phuket’s surrounding waters and Phang Nga Bay.

Beautiful orchards at Phuket's International Airport.

Security constantly buzzed around on their segways, it was very entertaining to watch.

And here comes Reece, poor thing was dog tired and asleep on his feet.

The Bride with a huge smile on her gorgeous face. OMG it was so good to hug her, 6 months is just too long between visits.
The Mulder's arrived in the afternoon and we had at least a 1 hour drive back to Matilda so they got to take in the traffic of Phuket. Like most Asian countries its organised chaos. Reece was taken aback with what he was seeing. Being a motor bike rider himself he spent most of the trip back to Matilda shaking his head, at the local riders antics. I guess with us being in Asia for the better part of 3 years we have become accustomed to it all. Clearly with the chair grabbing and squeals emanating from Lisa, this was a journey she wouldn’t forget quickly either. After all Bruce did explain to them that the rules of the road are merely a suggestion here. 

Delivery guy - note the wires above on the power pole.

Either off to set up at a night market or moving house, either way there clearly wasn't enough space for the daughter to fit in the ute.

She is nursing a baby in the side car, so its good to see he is obeying the road signs.

Off to work.

Mobile nursery.
Our return to the tender was interesting as the tide was dead low not long before we arrived at Panwa Bali making launching the tender impossible as the shore is littered with rocks. With this in mind we had forewarned them about the lack of water, and there will be nothing else to do but sit down, order delicious food from The Beach Bar and drink Chang beer. Reece thought this was a sensational way to welcome in their arrival to Thailand. A late night ensured with several Chang Beers enjoyed. During the night we had our first storm in months, The Mulder's must have bought the rain with them. We all enjoyed being out on deck in the pouring rain collecting rain water – this was quite the experience for them.

A very happy Reece to have his feet firmly on terra firma, with his first of many Chang Beers!

Finally at Panwa Bali and enjoying a kiss while we wait for dinner and the tide.

The tender fully loaded with their bags. The resort in the background looked beautiful with their lights on.
Even though I had made a holiday schedule we all decided to chill at Panwa Bali the next day. They were both tired and the dry season was making itself felt with the heat. Even though we had said to them that the heat is intense it’s not until you’re in it that you appreciate how hot it can get here. Our day was spent unpacking many of the goodies we had them bring over for us (items we cant buy in Asia). Playing the first of many games of Phase 10. Trying to cool off with swims whilst avoiding the huge pink jelly fish - we appointed a jelly fish spotter on each swim. A walk up the hill to visit the cafe book store is always a must at Panwa Bali, lunch at the local open Chinese cafe and we finished off with a visit to the pearl farm, a first day well spent.

Enjoying an ice cream at the local 7-11 we watched the cardboard man load up.

This is a pink jelly fish and they seemed abundant in some areas - hence our jelly fish spotter.
Nai Harn was a great choice to base ourselves for the next few days. Matilda is safe here and the evening sunsets are spectacular. While at Nai Harn we ate ashore, played lots of Phase 10, and swam loads with Lisa & Reece doing their best go get in the tender from the water line. Lisa being little could get in easily, and Reece succeeded after many attempts and loads of laughter. A walk one evening enjoying the coolness of the night, saw us visit the local Buddhist temple – it was so lovely as the night lights made it sparkle. 

Inside one of the temples at Nai Harn.

A temple at Nai Harn.

Reclining Buddha - this pose represents Buddha during his last illness before he entered parinirvana (nirvana after death).

Old Phuket Town was a great day out. The trip in was another experience for them on the roads and in an open Tuk Tuk taxi. We found some lovely shops to visit and had lunch at an air conditioned hawker centre which was a welcome relief from the heat for all of us that day. Only to heat up again while we waited nearly 1 hour for the return driver who seemed to be taking his sweet time.  During our walk around town The Mulder's enjoyed a fish foot bath or pedicure. You sit on the side of the tank, put your feet in and the little fish called Garra Rufa who are native to Asia and used for medical skin conditions, eat all the dead skin. It was so funny watching The Mulder's faces! 

Our ride for the day - a Tuk Tuk taxi to enjoy a ride into Old Phuket Town.

While walking around Old Phuket Town we found the fish bath.
Everyone in the Tuk Tuk - for a very hot day the breeze as we drove along gave us some relief.

A quick kiss in the air conditioning.
A few days in and sadly 3 of 6 fans died onboard, so we all decided to hire a car (ahhh more air conditioning) and go buy some new fans. A drive up the mountain to visit the Big Buddha was a must. The view is spectacular from up there, but very hot. Lisa, Reece and I all were blessed by one of the monks and we all received a platted bracelet for our donation. Interesting to learn that the Buddha statue has cost 30 million Baht, which was raised mostly from donations since 2002 for its construction and the Buddha is completely covered in Burmese white marble. A lovely lunch was devoured at an open air cafe overlooking the west coast. From Buddha we went into a cane shop, which seemed to sell everything cane, it was quite mind boggling. The shop owners hospitality was an experience in its own with them giving us drinks, fanning us and offering dried foods to taste, great sales people.

At the car park of The Great Buddha of Phuket.

The lookout is incredible. That is Ao Chalong below us. Panwa Bali where we spent the first few days is to the left.

The happy couple under Big Buddha.
Reece protecting Bruce, what from is anyones guess haha.

The happy couple.

Part of one of the two dragons completed. They lie in guard for Buddha.

Gold Buddha is magnificent. In the foreground are brass hearts you buy to support the Monks and Buddhas construction. You write a message on them, then hang them anywhere around the grounds, and hopefully your dreams are sent off in the breeze.

Lisa giving Reece a beautiful smile for a photo.

Bowing in front of a Monk for our blessing's.

My blessing landed right in my eyes!
Our platted wrist bands from our blessing.
The heat after a few days was taking its toll on both Mulder's. Lisa had broken out in a hive type lump rash all over and poor Reece had two very swollen feet. And don’t mention how they could hardly sleep in the heat, well that was mainly Reece, Lisa seemed to sleep very well and under a sheet all night! So loaded up with antihistamines, both tablets and cream for Lisa, and elevation being the only cure for Reece, the days continued. 

The antihistamines are working well.
We had planned on doing the walk up the hill to enjoy the view over Nai Harn to see the Andaman Sea in all her glory. But with swollen feet and a hire car until midday we drove up, glad we did as the view never disappoints. We then drove back to The Rocks for breakfast, returned the car and it was back to Matilda for more swimming and Phase 10.

The view from Nai Harn. Matilda off to the left and Site off to the right of the happy couple.
Enjoying a ride in the tender.
Our time in Nai Harn was complete after drinks on the roof top of the magnificent Nai Harn Resort with sailing friends off Site. The evening was a special treat for us all. Lisa enjoying her usual Pina Colada and Reece his beer, but then the Singapore Slings came out! The air was cool and the view incredible. Our night was finished off with dinner out, washed down with more cold Chang beers and Pina Colada’s!

The roof top at the Nai Harn Resort was very beautiful.

A little kiss in the garden.

All our men folk!

The ladies.

It really was a treat being up here and in such luxurious surroundings. A highlight for sure.
Interesting glasses.

Breaky time.

Bruce enjoying a coconut.
After Nai Harn we moved Matilda and crew over to the famous and crazy Phi Phi Don. With a westerly forecast we decided to drop anchor in the southern bay offering 100% protection from the predicted winds. We didn’t see any jelly fish here so no spotter was needed. We all enjoyed loads of swimming, jumping off the bow of Matilda and even fitted in some snorkeling. Phi Phi was The Mulder's highlight – no doubt due to the young crowd and no jelly fish. Monkey beach here didn’t disappoint either. In the tender we were able to enter a small Hong (Thai for room) where saw the monkeys jump on a girl and scratch her which was a bit frightening and then we watched as another tourist allowed the monkeys to climb on him - crazy. One afternoon Bruce and I drank cold Chang beer at a home stay, while the Mulder's went up to the look out which has 2 tiers. They made level 1, but opted out going to level 2, as it was so ridiculously hot. The water festival of Songkran was in full swing to bring in the Thai New Year, which meant we all got soaked and had a great laugh as we walked around. 

Chillin' out on the way to Phi Phi Don.

Phi Phi Don - its a tourist mecca.
Even though we all received a scolding for feeding the monkeys some bananas, we saw the tour guides feeding them as well??

Steps into a cave.

View from the cave down into the water of a Hong.

Inside the cave - other than the flash it was pitch black and nice and cool.

Lisa enjoying her drinks!

Reece enjoying a snorkel.

After a big walk the Honeymooners reached level one of the Phi Phi Don lookout.

The steps up to level one.

Lisa with a monkey and rightfully was anxious, these little monkeys like to jump on you in search of food.
Our next island was Rai Lei, it is famous for its rock climbing guests and was a totally crazy busy place when we last visited in February 2017. Much to everyone’s disappointment the place was completely deserted, apart from a few locals and a very very small handful of tourists. A sign did say that Dengue had cleared the place out which was a bit alarming for us so we moved on. This night we had a huge storm come in and once again we all went out and collected much needed rain water for our tanks. A welcome relief from the heat was enjoyed by all on deck.

This shot just cracks Bruce and I up. When we where here, February last year you couldn't even walk in a straight line for the amount of people bustling around the little streets.

Ah,,,, The Smile restaurant.

The road use to be a ring road, now its been blocked off by development, so over the wall we went!
Reece and Deb having a good chuckle.

Reece inside a training cave for rock climbing.

Off to Tonsi Beach.

Lisa in the cave.

And this is Tonsai beach - its just gorgeous.
The winds where light on, so we motored into Phang Nga Bay. The slow passage allowed us to go quite close to the limestone karsts. The ancient landscape which is millions of years old looks like something time has forgotten. One of Kings retreats was on the way so we swung past for a look and yes the Thai flag was flying so he was in - we all gave him a wave hello. We stopped at Koh (island) Hong for a look, however, due to low tide exposing rocks and coral we could hardly get in with our tender. We all had a laugh at the quick visit – all up I think we took about 20 minutes and that included picking up and dropping off the mooring. We didn’t want to risk being stranded in the Hong for the night.  

Swinging by a limestone ancient karst.

One of many retreat homes the King enjoys. We believe the flag is flying to indicate he is 'home'. And that was reinforced by the many naval ships dotted around the bay under his residence. 
Everyone enjoying a tender ride.
Anchoring beside the small island of Noi was a treat. Thanks to information from sailing friends, we stayed the night here. Quite a few jelly fish about meant we engaged our jelly fish spotter again, giving us all the hebbie jebbies, and laughing when one was spotted at our mad scramble to get out of the water. Koh Noi is home to a very large colony of fruit bats. It was amazing to be able to walk right inside the Hong and see them all hanging in the mangrove trees. At dusk they all took off giving us quite an aerial spectacle. 

Koh Noi - that's the entrance into the Hong - middle of the screen, just above the sand.

Fruit bats or flying foxes. Goodness me what a racket they make.

Mr and Mrs Mulder inside Noi Hong.
A budding Captain learning hand signals while hauling anchor.

As if on queue, right on dusk 1000's of fruit bats left the Hong. They just seemed to keep coming out, we honestly didnt think there was that many in there.
After Noi we went over to Koh Phanak – the second largest island in Phang Nga Bay. Phanak is home of the ‘Secret Garden’. It's a Hong that you walk into via a tunnel at low tide. Reece had to watch the tunnel height as he walked in, but it was all worth it when all of a sudden the tunnel opened up into this incredible open space, its huge. While at Phanak we also went inside a cave for a walk which ended with an amazing view into yet another Hong that is not accessible by foot. Phanak was a Hong highlight. 

The Secret Garden - Phanak. This is looking up with the tallest mangrove trees we have ever seen.

A family of monkeys greeted us at the cave entrance.

Secret Garden Hong, amongst the mangroves.
One of thousands of mud skippers inside the Secret Garden.
Then we made our way back to Phuket Yacht Haven Marina's basin anchorage, and possibly the best showers ever, they have air conditioning! We had a lovely lazy day here getting bags packed for The Mulder's return flight and all our bags ready for the big finale: The Phuket Elephant Park morning visit the next day.

The super yacht - Titana swung by as we where playing Phase 10.

No Rest For The Wicked as my Mum would say - Lisa is doing all our washing!!!!
The 'Sarong Sister's'.
The Phuket Elephant Park is a sanctuary where elephants are rescued and then given care for the remainder of their life. Very few of them are in a position to be released back into their natural habitat which is sad, but they are very well cared for at the sanctuary. All the fees for our visit went to their care. The morning was amazing. We were all briefed on how to conduct ourselves around these huge giants and then it was off to the feeding zone. Then a mud bath, before being lead into a muddy swimming pool and finally we all got to rinse off with the elephants. What an incredible way to finish off our time together. 

This was the first elephant we saw, a teenager we think, it was quite small. He was quite the character, rubbing the tree and dancing.

First contact with a giant.

They are quite the characters.

And they love corn on the cob! Reece feeding one straight into its mouth!

Lisa's turn, she is quite hesitant as the handler explains to her what to do.

Mouth open and ready for his corn.

Its a bit daunting.........

Feed.......... much to Lisa's relief.

Now onto the sugar cane.......

They love a rub.....

After being feed, its off for a mud bath.

Someone forgot to explain to Lisa & Reece, the mud bath was meant for the elephants not each other!

Yep, she can't help herself.

Happy days.

And in she goes....

Yuk,,,,all that muddy water.

But Lisa got her own back, take that Brucey.

And Reece!!

Loving it..

Now time to rinse off in the pond bath. This was the smallest elephant and as soon as it walked into the pond it laid down - adorable.

Fun times helping to rinse off the mud.

Shower time for everyone.

When this one had enough, it simply walked off. All nice and refreshed.

After the elephants where feed, mud washed and rinsed. We all got feed as well. Lisa joins another guest to learn how to cook Pad Thai. Our lunch was really tasty. 

The lady made it all seem so easy, and Lisa said it tasted delicious.

A final farewell with two of the handlers and Lisa's favourite elephant - Valentiine.

A quick comparison of foot size - absolutely gigantic.

Bye Bye new friends - we wished them well in their safe and well cared for home.
Finally their departure date was here and off to the airport we all went. We enjoyed a breakfast of toasted ham and cheese sandwiches and coffee at one of the airport 7-11’s. Even though farewells are hard, I think the heat had gotten the better of The Mulder's and going home to a much cooler climate was a welcome relief. 

We are use to seeing dogs and cats in most stores. This guy is enjoying the airconditioning in a shop on Phi Phi Don.

A quick Tuk Tuk ride to collect our washing which is on Reece's lap. Very casual road rules here.

One meal we just had to have with The Mulder's was Pom Stick's in freshly baked bread rolls by Bruce.

Two Captains?

A lovely smile from Reece as he and Bruce talk all things boating.

The sunsets where stunning.
After our good byes Bruce and I drove around Phuket in a daze missing them like crazy. While letting our broken hearts mend, we enjoyed a lovely lunch at Surin Beach (west coast), where we made our own new plans!

Our lunch stop at Surin Beach was a lovely spot to sit, eat, drink and gather our thoughts as The Mulder's flew home.
Farewell for now Mr & Mrs Mulder, we had a blast and loved every moment with you both. Hot as it was!!!

The Honeymooners finish their Thai vacation with a kiss.