Wednesday, 30 December 2015


We thought that when we put some photos of the Vietnam trip on the blogsite that the titles would appear as well, but not to be. All these things are very frustrating for us Dinosaurs........
Top to bottom:
1) French era public buildings Ho Chi Minh City - many beautiful examples
2) The gates to the Reunification Palace HCMC where north Vietnamese tanks crashed through in 1975 at the end of the American War
3) The boudoir - s.v. Tiare Taporo III - our Hephelant pillow covers!!
4) The Crazy House - Dalat
5) As above with You Know Who at the Crazy House. YKW wants one - the grandchildren would never go home!
6) American war materiel left in Vietnam in 1975
7) As above
8) Art Deco Summer Palace of the Bao Dai - Dalat, Vietnam
9) So-called sleeper bus with semi-reclining seats and YKW seated there!
10) More American war materiel left behind
Hope this helps in your deciphering of our muddled blogs!
Cheers and love from us.....
Jean and Jim

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Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Fwd: Phuket to Krabi and almost Christmas

----- Original Message -----
To: "Alec" <>
Subject: Phuket to Krabi and almost Christmas
Date: 23 Dec 2015 13:28:08 -0000
From: ZMQ5985

Hi to all,
We arrived at Krabi early in December after a 3 day crossing of Phang Nga Bay which was uneventful, except that our windlass refused to pull up the anchor at our last anchorage and we were worried that something else had happened to it but it turned out that the engine start battery which powers it was on its last legs after 3 years and we have now replaced that so all is well again.
Phang Nga Bay is of course where the greatest concentration of limestome karst islands can be found and it is truly very spectacular. Some amazing sights and often you get the impression that a whole island is going to topple into the sea, but of course they have been there a long time. However, one day..........! so we don't get too close to in case a cliff breaks off or the whole thing does fall over. There are some fairly recent scars where bits have fallen off in recent times. The Krabi side of Phang Nga is much more attractive than the Phuket side simply because it's cleaner. The water is not totally clear but is a nice deep green colour near Krabi, whereas on the other side the water is just dirty. Such a shame and is largely due to pollution from runoff from the low lying land to the north. Navigation is a bit tricky as most of the area is quite shallow and it is necessary to stay in channels (such as they are) which can get a bit hair raising.
We had been looking forward to returning to Krabi Boat Lagoon again but were shocked to be told almost as we tied up that our friend Garn, who has been running a great restaurant here, had been given 7 days notice to quit her premises. Just like that and after spending a great amount of money equipping the kitchen, fridges, furniture etc. She has managed to get the time extended to the end of December, but it is a shocking breach of normal business ethics and is a very good example of why anyone and foreigners in particular (Farangs) should never contemplate a business venture in Thailand. Normal ethics and fairplay as we understand them are often flouted. There doesn't seem to be any such thing as security of tenure via a commercial lease for instance. It seems that Garn's husband who is an Australian and who works in the oil industry in the Middle East, complained in fairly strong terms about power charges from the marina in a marina apartment THAT THEY OWN!! Apparently the marina owner took exception to that and as a result ordered Garn out of her restaurant. The restaurant has been a focal point for people in the marina and now that focus won't exist. Thais get offended very easily and you may not even know that it had happened. They tend to withdraw without confronting the issues head on and then can behave in a completely unreasonable and unexpected way.
We have a similar situation with engineering work. After the endless saga earlier this year with our prop shaft and cutlass bearings, we said that we did not want the particular engineer on the boat again. We have been told that if we won't have him we can't have anyone, in spite of the fact that there is at least one other qualified engineer available. So, that almost certainly means we won't be hauling out at Krabi Boat Lagoon again which is indeed sad. We just cannot understand the attitude. Again it seems that they don't want to offend the guy who has been with them a long time, but they don't worry about our feelings or the inconvenience caused. The Thai mentality is very hard to follow and as we've said in the past, the words "Thai" and "logic" are very often oxymorons!!
Another thing which has recently happened is that the previous manager was given sums of money on behalf of boats on the hard to go to Customs and pay for extensions of time for the boats. This is normally quite easy to do and we have done it ourselves at least once. However, this guy never went near Customs and instead as we understand it, just pocketed 4,000 Baht per boat (10 boats). That's a total of around NZD1600. Now the owners not only have to pay again, but they also have to pay a fine of 10,000 Baht per boat. In addition some of them may have had to return to Thailand prematurely to sort out the mess if they were away in Europe or the States working or visiting families, etc. These events are unconnected as far as we know but the result is that the atmosphere around here, which used to be happy and totally pleasant is now totally changed. Everyone is looking over their shoulders as the manager has been sacked and they are wondering who might be next. It's no longer a pleasant place to be. Hopefully it will settle down in the future, but that's how it is right now.
In the meantime the swimming pool has not been clean and the marina is a cesspit as most people living on yachts are using the on board toilet facilities on their boats because the onshore toilets are too far to go to and if you have any sort of stomach upset which is not uncommon here, you'd never make it! We used to use toilets attached to the condominium buildings and they are relatively close, but some idiot evidently complained with the result that they are locked and NO-ONE uses them!! Another example of Thai logic. And we sit on the bottom at low tide with no sign of any dredging activity on the horizon.
There is another marina, Port Takola, being built nearer to Krabi Town with all tide access and when that opens later in 2016, it will give this this place a real run for their money, so they really do need to lift their game.
In the meantime we have had plastic boards shaped and inserted in our soft bottom dinghy which should finally mean we can use it with gay abandon! Well, not quite but it will be a great improvement over the original Zodiac design - 3 yrs old now.
Popeye's carpenter, Don built the dinghy boards and also rectified some issues we had with deck caulking that had been done last year here at KBL. He had also raised our cockpit sole by 120 mm last year when we were away in India getting Jean's new hips and he did an exemplary job then too. He is an artisan of the first order and he also had rebuilt the 6 metre class ("Selma" built in Norway in 1926) which easily won the classic division of the King's Cup in Phuket a fortnight ago. We might enter next year - with a huge handicap!!! We'll give "Selma" a run for their money as Gauntlets were designed in 1934 as ocean racers!! But they were were designed with winds in excess of 25 knots across the English Channel so we might be out of luck. "Tiare Taporo III", originally named "Reflections of Wellington" and built in Wellington, NZ, apparently won a Royal Port Nicholson race across Cook Strait by 7 seconds in the 1980's!
Ian from the Australian yacht "Jayden" gave us some assistance with attaching the rated shackle to our anchor Jim bought in NZ (Green Pin). After a scolding from the Marina Police about cluttering up the walkway (which we were definitely NOT doing) we managed to get all our 100 metres of chain back in the chain locker and even the dinghy on deck!!!
Since then Jean and Jim are definitely in the cruising mode where getting to the other end easily surpasses any competitive urges!! But we can still give as good as we take.
On the health front, Jean has noticed a great improvement in her ligaments/knees with her stringent exercise regime. For those who know her, that would be no surprise. Jim on the other hand is nowhere near as stringent but there has been some improvement to his knees with swimming. Then there is always the Dutch Bakery in Krabi Town where one can get meat pies almost as good as Tommy Jones's Pies in Wellsford - 45 years ago!!!!!! How time passes. Jim used to pass by Tommy's early in the early mornings (6 am.) with his Dad at the age of 17 or thereabouts on the way to the Bay of Islands with a load of fresh bread in the old Pontiac (mid 1960'sh)!! Jim wishes he had met Jean in those days - who knows what might have been?
Nostalgia - it's always to be lauded but it should not be looked back on on. The main thing is to pick up whatever remains to pick up and get on with life. That's what we are doing with sailing through the Andaman Sea.
Lots of love from us
Jim and Jean and with all best wishes to all ............
----- End of Original Message -----

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Sunday, 20 December 2015

Tuesday, 1 December 2015


Hi again to all,
Once back in Krabi we carried on with the twice daily antibiotic IV's for Jim at Krabi International Hospital. Krabi had no initiative - they simply carried on the treatment started in Hanoi which we must say in the end proved to be effective. This involved a 60 km. round trip twice a day which was a right pain - not to mention expensive with hiring a car at 1000 Baht per day. Plus the hospital costs which in Thailand are generally more expensive than other SE Asian countries - especially India!! You could be forgiven for assuming we are biased in favour of India! The IV's continued for about a week. Then with one day to go Jim had enough. He was on his own this time which was unusual; Jean was back on the boat catching up with chores. He was hooked up to the IV and then left in a room with freezing aircon and no way of calling a nurse. No-one looked in to check on progress. Because diuretics had also been prescribed in an effort to reduce the leg and foot swelling (at least partially caused by the antibiotic itself), there was a concurrent need for frequent toilet visits! Things were getting somewhat fraught with this pressing need and no-one to deal with the IV. So, it was necessary to get off the bed and fortunately the power lead together with the dripline was just long enough to open the door and yell at the 6 nurses at the nurse station who were mainly concerned with chattering and playing with their smartphones. They looked suitably abashed and one came over and disconnected the power so that the necessary visit could be made. The second time it happened Jim disconnected himself and wheeled the IV trolley past the nurse station. No-one offered to help. That was it.
They wanted payment for the morning IV plus the evening one as usual but Jim refused. This caused a furore but that didn't matter. All they seem to care about is getting paid. You can't get out of the place without being led very firmly to the cashier. The doctor who was useless and clueless about side effects of Vancomycin until we informed him, was in the end, after trying a severe lecture, only interested in getting Jim to sign an indemnity letting him off the hook! They had a plentiful supply of such forms which suggested that this was not an isolated occurrence.
Last year with Jim's Sciatica and Jean's hips (pre-op) we had had a reasonable time with Krabi International Hospital. We had both had MRI scans then and the doctor had correctly diagnosed and treated the Sciatica. Then of course we went to India where Jean received state of the art ceramic and titanium hips. Krabi IH has gone downhill since then and we deplore the money emphasis here which is in stark contrast to that of India where they are far more concerned with a patient's welfare.
Anyway, since then and since our arrival in Phuket, the Cellulitis symptoms have gone and a blood test showed that the bacteria was clear. Thank goodness for that. It's a potentially very dangerous infection and once again all thanks to Jean for recognising the problem early enough in Hanoi to enable the treatment to be effective.
While at Krabi we also came to an acceptable compromise with Popeye in regard to the engine alignment issues that we had. Popeye is incredibly busy and the comparison with last year is amazing. They had 37 boats on the go (and some were fairly major jobs) which they were struggling to cope with, but in future they will be restricting the workload that they take on. But it was good to catch up with Des and Ked again. We also were able to enjoy the new swimming pool which gave us some much needed exercise. Jean unfortunately was developing what seemed to be severe pain associated with ligaments and there is no-one capable of treating that in Krabi. What with Jim's Cellulitis and dicky knees as well we are just a couple of old crocks. This is why we do need to pass on the idea of more long ocean passages - particularly ones such as an Indian Ocean crossing. Unfortunately age and time are implacable foes. Although Jim still hankers after the idea of Borneo, Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Aleutians (in the northern summer of course!) and the west coast of North America. A bonus would be to get the old girl (the boat!) to Seattle where there is a very strong following for classic timber built boats.
We left Krabi in mid November and had a quick trip to Phuket as it was urgent for Jean to see an Osteopath she had been in touch with. We anchored overnight and then proceeded to Yacht Haven - almost exactly 12 months since we were last here. No boat issues at least! Yacht Haven has changed radically with a totally new marina complex which is very efficient, but we have to say has an imposing appearance reminiscent of Soviet style architecture somewhat like Ho Chi Minh's tomb in Hanoi!! It has always been on a steep hillside with the carparks and services all up top. But they have a (mostly) efficient service of electric golf carts which take one hither and yon. And there is a pool up there as well but nowhere near as good as the Krabi one. You might wonder at all this obsession with pools, but we have lately become aware that there are box jellyfish (a la Australia) here as well and over the recent past few years several visitors have died from their stings. This includes Langkawi. So the thought of swimming in the sea is suddenly not so attractive. The annoying part is that the authorities never tell you about this - presumably because it is not a good look for tourism. But neither is tourists dying on beaches. This definitely is not a common occurrence but nevertheless is sufficient deterrent for us.
Jean had an appointment with Garnett Symonds (a U.K. trained Osteopath who had his own practice in London). He is located near Rawai Beach - about a 2 hour drive from here in the mad Phuket traffic. The treatment certainly alleviated the symptoms and exercise helps but still not sure what to do long term. We had some X-Rays taken at the 7th. Day Adventist Mission Hospital - they sing hymns at 8 every morning - quite soothing, especially in a hospital environment!! We've sent those to Vijay Bose in Chennai for his comments but so far haven't heard back.
Apart from all these medical woes, we've been enjoying our time here and we have found the Living Room restaurant which is far better than the marina restaurant and cheaper. It's just a sand floor under a lean to roof with lots of planting and right on the beach. This missive is being penned right here as we speak. We hire a car once a week to get provisions and any other errands that need doing. Tesco and Makro are our preferred food suppliers! Things like smoked duck and Cumberland herbed sausages are favourites not to mention fresh passion fruit in season now. They are slightly larger than the purple NZ variety. Still purple and full of pulp and so sweet! Then there are Papaya and all sorts of imported fruit as well. Aussie oranges, NZ apples, Kiwifruit and Avocados. And Chinese Nashi pears, carrots and garlic! So, we are well supplied. Norwegian salmon and Vietnamese white fish also.
In a couple of days we are looking after a miniature Schnauzer called "Cuzzie" whose owners (Lee & Richard from an American boat called "Before") have gone to Bangkok for a few days. We have remade the acquaintance of Erica and Nick from the Australian boat "Jepeda IV" and met a number of other people on boats as you do in this cruising life.
We have listed "Tiare Taporo III" with a brokerage here - They are represented in 50 countries and also in all the wooden boat meccas of the world so hopefully something may eventuate. In the meantime we are enjoying our life and looking forward to exploring Phang Nga Bay on our way back to Krabi.
We will be very sad to sell Tiare but life has to move on. Time as always will tell.
With lotsaluv from us and hoping everyone is in the pink...........
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Yacht Haven Marina
Phuket Thailand

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