ARAGORN ... Not all those who wander are lost (JRR Tolkien)

Thailand - Cruising

Our Thailand cruise is divided into three web pages. The largest is the page devoted to the Tsunami. The other two are this one, devoted to our cruising up to Thailand and Phuket, and the third is our side trip to Bangkok.

Dick and Leslie brought ARAGORN north from Malaysia to Thailand in early December, stopping at Phi Phi Don on 8 December, and going to Phuket (the large island) a few days later. Before Christmas, we flew up to Bangkok and met our children, Sloane, Thomas and Catherine (see separate web page). We all flew back to Phuket just before Christmas for partying and cruising (interrupted by the tsunami of 26 December). This page has big gaps as life just post-tsunami was anything but normal, but as you will see below we did have a couple of good times.

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The Thai fishing boats were very "jaunty" in their design, somewhat different from their Malaysian kin. Leslie liked them so much that she is thinking of getting one to putt up and down Long Island Sound when we eventually return from cruising!

Yes, those are light bulbs hanging from the booms on the boat. Apparently at night they light them to attract fish when using some rigs.


At sea, you frequently see two of the boats chugging along together. Then you realize they are each pulling one end of the same net! Woe betide the sailor who gets caught between a pair like this. At night it is trickier to decipher what two boats are doing ... are they pair trawling, or just two boats fishing independently?

Spectacular anchorage, what? Our first stop in Thailand was at Phi Phi Don Island, on December 8, in the southern anchorage. (Of course we were anchored off Phi Phi Don for the tsunami, but see the separate Photo Gallery page for that story.) We did some snorkeling here, and went ashore to see the tourist trades.

Looking to the right from the last photo, you can see the beach at Phi Phi Don, but also the ubiquitous "longtail" - the Thai canoes who take tourists out to the nearby islands for swimming, snorkeling and sightseeing. Yes, the propulsion is an engine balanced on the stern with a long drive shaft and a bare prop at the end (OSHA would not approve).

Below, the "business" end of the same boat. "Outboard motors" just has a different meaning here.

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After we went ashore, Dick got a closer look at a few of the longtails. There must have been over one hundred on the beach! The scarves on the bows are related to Buddhist blessings.

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Once we got to the big island of Phuket, Leslie thought this Coca Cola truck was a sharp contrast ... not only could we not speak the language, the lettering is so different we cannot dream of interpreting it!

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As with many other places, the local markets proved to be most interesting. This man is selling six different types of prepared beans, and four prepared curry pastes. Of course, any one of his curry pastes would be five times hotter than our western pallets could stand!

We did like to see all the cooked food at the market. Here Leslie communicates with a woman selling deep-fried chicken at the counter, while her partner works the wok in the back.

Back at the rally functions, Leslie holds five-year-old Abby Oliver (MIZU BABY) until she falls asleep during the exhibition of traditional Thai dances.

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In mid-December, we flew to Bangkok to meet our three children (Sloane, Thomas and Catherine), and we toured Bangkok and the surrounding area with them. That trip is the subject of a whole different web page (Photo Gallery, Thailand Touring). We then returned to the boat for some cruising with the kids, first going to Phi Phi Don (northern anchorage) on December 24th for Christmas.

We had a wonderful Christmas morning aboard ARAGORN

On Christmas morning, we opened our presents under the tree, which was perched on the compass, with additional support from the mainsheet boom block.

That afternoon, we had Christmas dinner with the crews of about eight other rally boats. Leslie had organized a "Secret Santa" draw so people could trade presents. The distribution was emceed by Alistair off NADEMIA, clad in Christmas tree earrings. His big reward was a Christmas kiss from each female receiving a present. Here Catherine gets her gift and buss.

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Our cruising was interrupted the next morning by the Tsunami (See Photo Gallery, Thailand - Tsunami Report).

To get life to return to somewhat normal, we tried normal things, like going to the movies. In Phuket they have a "first class" movie theater, with wine and hors d'oeuvres before, recliner seats with blankets, and popcorn and drinks brought to your seat.

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One of the highlights was a Thai Cooking Class run by Pum, the brainchild behind "Pum's Restaurant and Cooking School", now with two locations in Thailand and one in France(!). We went on the 31st of December, from noon until eight pm, and after eight of us made four dishes each, and all of us tasted all thirty-two, we were hardly ready for the New Year's dinner that night.

Here's Pum, telling us the exact way to cut veggies for her dishes! Her slightly-off-the-wall personality, full of humor and new ways of seeing things, was just what we needed to launch us out of 2004 and into 2005.


We all got to learn how to mortar the curry spices!

Sloane, with Tom looking on.

Then Catherine

And Leslie and Dick

Hard work at the stove by Tom, with Leslie looking on ...

We all got turns, here's Catherine's

And Sloane and Dick fighting for elbow room.


Tom and Sloane got along well during the course. (Why did they fight all the time growing up?)


The results tasted great!

The cooking class:


Alistair (NADEMIA), Dick, Catherine, Carolyn (NADEMIA), Pum, Leslie, Sloane, Will (SAFARI), and Tom.

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