Saturday, January 3, 2009

3 January 2009

We arrived at Ao Chalong on the south of Phuket Island a few days before NYE and cleared in through Customs, Immigration and the Harbour Master. All conveniently located beside each other in the same building so it wasn’t an arduous process at all.
Ao Chalong Yacht Club was just like a smaller, daggier version of Dinah Beach Yacht Club so we all felt right at home, apart from the disgusting sewage/mud that you only ever wade through ONCE! We made sure never to do a dinghy transfer at low tide… There were dozens of yachts and way more commercial boats in the harbour, so we decided to go somewhere a bit quieter for New Years Eve.

We anchored in Patong Bay, the infamous NYE destination for rowdy backpackers, and the last place we'd ever choose to spend NYE! We stayed on board for the night, going over to the Gwendolyn with a few other people, including Lothlorien, and saw in the new year with champagne, Laphroig scotch and old flares, and watched a spectacular fireworks display on the beach. Even more dramatic were the thousands of floating lanterns sailing overhead, balloons made of rice paper, with something like a hexamine cube underneath them to lift them up. They look beautiful against a black sky, but cause no end of nerves when they look like falling on your boat! In past years some boats have caught fire and had sails burnt, one way of keeping drunken yachties off shore I guess!

Next morning we ventured ashore, and found it was a much quieter place than the previous evening. Breakfast with the crews off Gwendolyn and Lothlorien then a look around Patong Beach. It’s interesting but so far I can't see why everyone wants to come here for holidays. Then again the idea of lying on a beach all day having a massage or a pedicure on the sand doesn't turn me on much so I guess it's just not my kind of place. It probably looked amazing about 30 years ago, when there weren't wall to wall little shops selling overpriced stuff. A bit like Kuta in Bali, all 'Sir Sir, Madam Madam, for you special price, cheap!' and so on. Nowhere in Malaysia or Indonesia was it like that so we're a bit unprepared I suppose.

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