Thursday, November 29, 2018

Phuket, Thailand (a new country for us!)

Poor man's drone shot of Nai Harn (also known
as 'walking up a hill')

Even though we don't feel deprived when we're in remote places, we go a little crazy when we get back to 'civilization'.
It's a bit of a shock to the system, but it's also nice to have access to things we haven't seen in awhile. One store here in Phuket that caters to tourists has maraschino cherries, soft white marshmallows, bacon, ham, and lots of brands and types of food we didn't even find in Darwin. Phuket Town has a Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and KFC within walking distance of the bay. We haven't visited them, but there are several McDonald's (the boys have said they will walk 10 miles if they can have McDonald's).

Phuket feels a bit like Bali, with the throngs of Western tourists in beach wear (even far from the beach) and the bad traffic. The local people are lovely and friendly, but they are definitely used to tourists. It is lucky for us, because almost everyone speaks English pretty well. Thai is much more difficult to learn than Indonesian and this is the first country we have visited on the boat where the primary language uses a different alphabet than English.

We have a friend on another cruising boat that says she breathes a sigh of relief whenever she leaves Indonesia because it means she is away from the bureaucracy. Our check-out process from Sabang, Indonesia was the fastest we have experienced so far. It only took about 4 hours. All the officials were friendly and everyone except Quarantine was efficient. Quarantine took longer because they insisted on coming out to the boat because a document they issued when we checked in had expired (apparently an Indonesian sanitation certificate--one of many documents that Quarantine buries you in). You can read the details here (in the comments), but essentially we dinghied 3 quarantine officials out to our boat. They inspected the boat and asked many questions. All so that we could leave the country. Indonesia remains the only country (out of dozens we have visited) where we have had to visit Quarantine to check out of the country and this is the first time they wanted to see the boat on check out. It isn't clear what would have happened if we had failed the inspection. I very briefly considered saying that 'yes' we do have rats (they asked us several times), just to see what would happen, but obviously didn't.

In contrast, checking in to Thailand in Phuket took a little over an hour and all the offices were right next to each other. It was like night and day.

Matt's Mom is visiting in about a week and in the meantime we are doing boat projects and enjoying the sights. So far, we love Thai street food. Matt and the boys are especially fond of the ubiquitous grilled meat-on-a-stick.

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