Ao Chalong, Thailand
14 January 2016
We got a very early start and arrived in Ao Chalong by noon time motoring most of the way. The anchorage was huge and very busy with tour boats speeding off to Phi Phi Lee and the likes almost continuously. Once we anchored, we went ashore to clear in, and buy telephone and internet cards. The docks were run down and dangerous as there were sharp objects threatening to puncture our inflatable dinghy. We did get ashore but the engine died on us on arrival. Another project just waiting to be tackled. Keep in mind that our dinghy is like our SUV without a garage. Once we cleared in, off we went exploring. The jetty from the dock is so long that there was a shuttle bus just to take us to the main land.
The sun is unbearable during the day and one tries to stay in the shade as much as possible. Between our ignorance of what we needed to buy, where stores were and our inability to communicate with most Thais we stumbled along and sweated our way to eventually getting what we needed. We did discover a to die for western expensive supermarket and decided to eat out nearby in the shopping center. This turned out to be a poor decision as the food was not terribly good and by the time we walked back to the dock it was dark out. Naturally, our engine would not start and I couldn’t get it even to cough so eventually some local men passed us in a dinghy and they towed us back to our unlit boat. We gave them 200 Batts for their trouble and their eyes shone. They did not expect a tip and were delighted. The wages in Thialand are very low so I can only imagine what the “boys” did with their money.
A new job! …. fix the damn engine! That became a first priority and after I had exhausted every effort to find an outboard mechanic to visit the boat, we finally persisted in fixing the problem. There was water in the fuel tank, and the carburetor had some debris that took several attempts to thoroughly clean before it became reliable again. We decanted the old gasoline, changed and cleaned fuel filters and fuel lines to finally get clean fuel delivery to the engine. The engine is now running fine, keeping our fingers crossed. We hate being stranded and rowing the dinghy isn't our favorite chore.
For the next week we met up with our friends, shopped until we dropped, went to the dentist, Nancy got a haircut! The best haircut for $10 usd.
In the end we did not particularly take to Ao Chalong. It is crowded, old and worn, poor , littered with garbage and many bars with a thriving sex trade. We found the tourists overwhelmed the city and they were boisterous and aggressive and it seemed as if the locals were only in it to make a buck. Lots and lots of Russians have moved into Thialand as the business opportunities seem to be thriving. It was very opportunistic and fast paced requiring high energy and awareness at all times. Even the harbor was stressful as we had a roll many nights so we were eager to get on our way as soon as we were fully provisioned for all of our soon to arrive guests.
Onward to the hongs!
From the Crew of Always Saturday