Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Captain's blog June 2009

This month has gone frantically doing maintenance on the boat, carpentry, metal works, painting, varnishing, electrical jobs, flag state jobs, class jobs & preparing drydocking, F1 visit & handover. “No rest for the wicked” as they say.

G1 shipyard headoffice in Lumut, Malaysia

As for crew matters I got back Sunil and Rajaram rested from their annual vacations and I sent Vivek for his holiday.

We actually arrived from Langkawi already on the 26th May and I did not stop on the way for diving as the weather was really poor, windy and rainy all the way. We arrived at Yacht Haven 2pm with no hassles, I experienced some funny cross currents pushing us off the pier although it was slack water so my approach was a bit slow but finally we managed to tie up in an orderly fashion.

I was met by the Marina Manager Zara Tremlett on the pier after finished with all engines. Our local agents, Gordon Fernandes and Toby Koehler arrived later on in the afternoon and as we started with the official paperwork and then changing news and gossip with some Kingfisher and snacks we soon discovered it was almost midnight.

The rest of the week was spent contacting anew old contractors for planned jobs and getting worklists and quotes made up.

Next weekend 30th I visited Jira in Trang province and we did an outing to Satun and the Wang Rajan bordermarket at the Thai-Malay border. Thai nationals could wander into the Malay side and do shopping there, I could not as my visa would have been voided. Very similar to the Thai-Cambodian Aranyaprathet border market that is popular for Bangkokians to visit for shopping and gambling (in Poipet).

Near the border was the “Thaleban Nature Park” which we visited shortly on the way back. There I saw and heard mountain frogs, the noise was deafening from such small creatures.

Frog song

1st week of June we got dayworkers and contractors galore onboard and the usual maintenance hula-baloo started.

Following weekend 6th I took Richard and Jyothi out for an outing to Trang where we visited the local aquarium and sea-lion show.

14th June was the International Marathon run at Laguna and Avnish arranged for voluntary crew to sign up.

Next week I started a detox diet and had only fruit juice for next 2 weeks just to see what the effects were. The experience was not too bad but I always felt a sting of jealousy seeing people eat and it seemed to me Richard was making an effort preparing all kind of good dishes or maybe it was just my hungry imagination.

June 20th I took Saini and Kalpana to Trang province and we visited the Klong Thom Hot Springs Sa Morakot pools.

Next week went meeting with Avnish and putting him in the picture of what is happening on the yacht workwise and re: our commercial certification status. I printed out reams of statements, lists and reports covering the handover.

On the 27th was hashing day for Phuket HHH and we decided to join. Saini and me had been running there before but Martula and Richard decided to join us.

Finally, on the 28th morning I whipped out the scale and could ascertain that I had lost abt 8kg’s during my 2 weeks juice detox combined with evening jogging with Saini.

At noon we headed for Sarasin bridge with most of our crew for a handover lunch. Just after crossing the bridge, turned left to the bridge bank, there is a seafood restaurant that serves lovely and inexpensive food while watching the tide swirl by. I also enjoyed being able to eat again after 2 weeks of chugging juice. Once the lunch was devoured I took my leave and was wished a Happy vacation for the next 30 days.

I’ll keep updating you of my holiday next, until then…
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Sunday, 28 June 2009

Hashing with Phuket HHH

On the 27th was hashing day for Phuket HHH and we decided to join. Saini and me had been running there before but Martula and Richard decided to join us as newcomers.

The run was set quite off the treaden path, HHH signs guided us into Phuket’s redneck backwaters near the old airport road where at least 50+ runners were gathering. An obnoxious and rude Frenchman as GM was collecting registration fees and after awhile the run was explained by the hares and we were off.

I tried keeping pace with the middle of the pack but soon lost it after the trail started going up and downhill in dense brush and rubber plantations. The run was very long, abt 10km, and had 8-9 falsies laid out. The trail itself must’ve been planned with GPS as it was so ingeniously looped that at times I think we were running parallel to a previous loop. Needless to say I was knackered when I reached the end. Saini being the runner onboard finished among the first. Richard and Martula did the walkers trail so they were much better off.

I must say that having ran with 2 other hashes I think Phuket HHH is more geared towards people living in the Patong – Kamala region as well as the whole lot is quite inwards warming. Also having circles bigger than 50 persons is quite cumbersome, it does not create the hash atmosphere and this day the whole show was stolen by a bitch in heat that was being tried on by every male dog around the circle.

The star of the run...

Fees are 60THB/ member and 100 THB/ newcomer. For this sum you only get to run and participate in the circle.
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Sunday, 21 June 2009

Hot springs and Sa Morakot pools

This weekend I took Saini and Kalpana to Trang province and we visited the Klong Thom Hot Springs where one could sit in naturally formed cauldrons of ca 40°C hot water running down from a stream out of the jungle. According to a posted water analysis it did not contain much of any minerals at all and in fact the sulphurous smell that one usually gets was virtually not existing.

While sitting in the water I actually overheard a Bangkokian tourist asking another guy “Where do they boil all this hot water?”…

Enjoying all the boiled water...

A sign proclaimed “30minutes for good health”, there was also traditional massage stalls where one could further enhance the relaxation of a hot bath but we would have none of it as we continued onward to the ”Emerald pool” or Sa Morakot in Thai.

Up the stream

The “Emerald pool” or at some places it was written “Crystal Pool” brought up a vision of a pool full of crystals or something like that but when we arrived I saw I had my visions all wrong. It was a round pool filled with clear water that by the reflection of the greenery close by turned the water emerald color to the eye. A very picturesque scenery and there was quite a few tourists splashing around in the water.

On the way to the blue pool

The water ran from the jungle into the pool continuously, hence the water was not murky. Soon enough we wanted to go and find out where the water was coming from and we started walking along the stream that was filling the pool. We arrived to an arid area that was just like a wasteland bordering the jungle and water was running in small streams all over. The bare grey matter was just lime. Above the lime hill there was a small pool that was named “Ascetics pool” and a small “sala” had been erected beside the pool with 2 ascetic statues inside, if one wanted to do some meditation.

We continued forward on a wooden board walk deeper into the jungle and soon we were passing huge rainforest trees with enormous trunks. We took some nice snapshots of each other between the large roots and after awhile we came onto a trodden path and some signs pointing to the “Blue pool”. We ventured further until we arrived to the “Blue pool”.

The "Blue pool"

It was in the middle of the jungle, no sound around except of us and the birds. The pool was absolutely blue. Me and Saini plunged in and swam around the pool and found out it was almost 5 meters deep in the centre although it did not look like that. The water was so clear that the sense of depth could not be ascertained. The bottom was of powdery white sand so fine that if one took a handful it was washed out when you reached the surface. Small bubbles was constantly rising up to the surface and I suspect it was either methane from rotting jungle or sulphuric gases from volcanic activity. The smell was there alright. The blue color to the pool came from the depth of the water. I only missed any Elves that would come dancing out from the jungle riding unicorns, otherwise the whole scenery was very much from the imagination fo Tolkien. We were lucky we got the whole pool for ourselves the time we stayed there as on the way back we met scores of teenagers heading the way we were coming from.

Once back at the Emerald Pool it was time to walk back the 2 km to the car and head back to our lodgings. Not a bad way to spend a day, entrance cost for foreigners 200 THB/ head. The park had imposed a ban on bringing in foods too, hence all surroundings were quite clear of rubbish (same as at the Klong Thom Hot Springs).

Sunday morning Saini wanted to see the La Khaokob cave as Richard and Jyothi had bragged about it so said and done I took him and Kalpu there and they emerged exhilirated abt 40minutes later from the bowels of the Dragon. Then it was tme to head back for Phuket and to visit Kargo to see the F1 rally at Silverstone. Unfortunately Force India did not score any points on this rally either but it was the best performance from Fisichella during this season.
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Monday, 15 June 2009

Laguna Marathon in Phuket

14th June was the International Marathon run at Laguna and Avnish arranged for voluntary crew to sign up.

Me, Richard, Martula and Kalpana signed up for the 10km feat and Saini signed up for the 20km half-marathon. We had wrong starting time information so we arrived abt 20minutes late from the start but it did not matter as we had electronic tags so we could be timed anyway.

After the run...

Not that it mattered, I don’t think any of us was aiming to break the world record. I was pacing myself and jogging along and soon enough the girls had ran away from me. The sun was getting hotter and hotter and at 7.5km I had to start walking and at 9.5km I forced myself to continue running, and I did until the end. Actually at the last stretch I managed to somekind of a spurt.

We all received a medal of completion. During running I saw a few runners incapacitated from sprained ankles to torn hamstrings, serious sporting can be very taxing on the body. I also saw one guy running bare feet, true to the traditional way of running the Marathon. When I was in Greece I actually met a Greek in the local hash that had done the full Marathon barefeet and did not want to repeat the feat.

The event was well organised but I and probably other runners too did not like the traffic allowed on the roads as well as the watering stations could have placed some bins afterwards where the empty water cups and sponges could have been thrown in (this was actually improvised at the last watering station). The cleaning job afterwards must’ve been enormous.

At the end runners could get free foot massage and food. The queue for the first was too long and I did not feel fot the latter so I was just tanking up on ice water and chatting with my crew while waiting for Saini to arrive from his feat. Soon enough he finished too and after awhile we headed back to Yacht Haven for a shower and and some well deserved rest.

I finished the 10.5 k's in 1.5hrs (not sure their timer tags worked correctly though?) and placed at 712th position out of 735 participants that finished their run. Interested can see the results here
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Sunday, 7 June 2009

Trang aquarium and Le Khaokob cave

I took Richard and Jyothi out for an outing to Trang where we visited the local aquarium and sea-lion show. The aquarium exhibited some remarkable samples of filled up sharks and various big fishes as well as had a also aquariums with live fish as well. Not as flashy as aquariums in Shanghai or San Francisco but an aquarium nonetheless, well cared for and clean surroundings. The lion fish that was exhibited live were really big specimens. The sea-lion show was nice but the staff could have been as enthusiastic as the sea-lions themselves. Cheap entrance fees with 30 THB to aquarium and 20 THB for the show, not the usual double tier system.

Jira & stalactites

Le Khaokob entrance

After this we went for a seafood dinner at Pak Meng beach where we sat in the shadow of pine trees and watched the sun go down while whetting our palates on grilled white fish, garlic prawn, fresh oysters and other shell fish.

On Sunday we drove out to Trang city that was the old Capital of Siam in the olden days (5th King) to see what vestiges was left from that era. I could not discern anything except some old temples that I was not even sure if they were from that time. Only sign left from the old times I would say is that Trang has very strong Chinese ancestry present as you could see a lot of shop names in Chinese characters, that must be from the old times when the Chinese traders came and settled down here. The reason Trang was Capital was due to the commerce generated by harbor town of Kantang which is still active and in operation.

After leaving Trang we visited the Le Khaokob cave that could only be entered by boat. We paid 200 THB for one boat and was paddled off in a shallow stream. After some 50metres we approached the entrance of the cave and was paddled to the 1st cave. Differently colored light tubes had been placed along the way to create an eerie lighting that suited the atmosphere very well. Our guides pointed out various formations that resembled elephants teeth, teats, Buddha’s etc. We were shown 3 caves and then it was on to the highlight of Le Khaokob and we had to lie down on the boat because the roof was about to get low, in fact very low.

We were paddled towards the “spine of the Dragon”, a 350m long spine like formation that snaked through the mountain and was almost water filled. At times the roof was so low that my belly was scratching it. Our guides used their hands to propel the canoe further on by pushing at the roof, we were told the water was 2-6 meters deep and that practically every fresh water fish could be found there, they especially liked to hide in the coold waters of the cave. We were also lucky that the water was so low the day we visited as on full oon and after heavy rains the tunnel becomes inaccessible as the water level rises. Somewhere in the middle the roof came up a bit and we saw a round shape in the middle of the stream that was called the “Heart of the Dragon”, then the roof came down again and we had to lie down, further on we went until we approach the “Mouth of the Dragon” and we could see daylight. It looked exactly as the mouth as one could see the meaty thing that dangles in everybodys throat when you look in the mirror. Further on were stalactites hanging down like teeth, so the mouth impression was very palpable.

After exiting the mouth, without the Dragon biting down on us, we were dropped off to the landing pier near the parking, we tipped our guides and left back for home.
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