A lot of you have opened this post to read about Mary Ann having to be rescued by a Lady Boy in a Chinese Jungue. OK, but I am going to force you to read some other boring stuff first.
Phuket was what we expected. It is a well developed resort island. Every seasoned Thailand traveler will say “You should have seen it twenty years ago, grass shacks with sand floors”. I reply, “I lived someplace like that for four years, been there, done that and got the insect bites.” Phuket today has a giant Hilton, a Club Med and everything in between. We stayed in a very comfortable hotel which was across the street from a long beautiful stretch of white sand beach. This beach was special to me because the sand was so soft is actually(really and truly) SQUEAKED when you walk on it.
I DID find one thing to do that involved something more than hedonism, well maybe just another type of hedonism.
It was actually an incredible flight over the bay. Just about the time I got relaxed, it was over.
The next day I talked Mary Ann into going fishing. “Deep sea, big game fishing” they called it. The brochures had pictures of sailfish and huge tuna.
This is what I caught.
It was a wonderful day on the water. We had a good time.
The next day we just relaxed and got massages.
OK, what you really opened this post for….
JAMES BOND ISLAND
There are a multitude of tours available from the island of Phuket. One is to the Phi Phi islands. Normally I tell me readers that what I just wrote is not pronounced as rudely as it looks. This time I must tell you that but in the opposite way. it is not pronounced FI Fi, no, it actually is pronounced PEE PEE. It makes for interesting conversations with the tour sellers who ask, “You want to go pee pee?.” Or “have you gone Pee Pee yet?” We did not go Pee Pee, even though the Pee Pees are where the movie “The Beach” was filmed. Everything we read about it talks about the intense over commercialization, hundreds of tourist shops selling mostly crap made in China. Plastic busts of Leonardo diCaprio do not interest me.
Our limited research convinced us to go to the James Bond Islands. These are in a region of the Andaman Sea called Ao Phang-Nga Marine National Park. It consists of dozens, OK, hundreds of Karsts. Karsts are massive limestone blocks pushed up out of the sea by mainland fault activity. You have probably seen pictures of them but in case not, here ya go. This IS a full service blog!
Our tour was on an “Authentic Jungue” How authentic I cannot tell you but it was comfortably outfitted, and attractive.
We cruised close to a couple of karsts so we could see the erosion of the lomestone caused by the salt water and waves.
As you can tell from the photos, yes there we an awful lot of fellow tourists out and about this day. No worries. I’m glad they are making money. This group of tourists were in plastic Kayaks, being rowed by local boys who fish at night from the following village.
Of course Mary Ann and I live in a Muslim country, so I tried my limited (very limited) Arabic with them. Mary Ann laughed and said “Just because the woman is covered, does not mean she speaks Arabic, idiot.” The entire village is dedicated to the separation of a tourist from his money, but again, that is cool. they had a great school, and kids all looked happy.
OK OK. Onto Mary Ann’s adventure. But first a word from MI6
Our next stop was at James Bond Island, so called because 34 years ago they filmed part of the movie “The Man With The Golden Gun” here. Unfortunately is was not a Sean Connery movie, so IMHO, not really a James Bond movie. This one starred Roger “The Usurper’ Moore, 006 1/2.
It too is a tourist trap. If you wait for the Korean and Japanese tourists to get out of you way, you can get good shots of the iconic karst featured in the film’s posters.
OK Already! Now to Mary Ann’s Inadvertent Adventure!
Our tour leader and defacto captain of the Junque was a Lady Boy Lady Boys are Thailand’s third gender. They do not have to hide in a “ghetto” like the Castro district. They are an accepted part of Thailand life. How can you spot one. Well, first, they have implants that make them a solid 36C, while most Thai girls are lucky to fill out a training bra. If you are still confused, look for man hands and of course an Adam’s apple.
After Bond Island we stopped to swim, out in the middle of the Andaman Sea. Mary Ann had been looking forward to a swim all day. she stripped of her shorts and T shirt and dove right in. She was the first overboard, and the last. By the time she came to the surface she was 30 or so feet behind the junque. It turns out there was quite a current. I watched as she licked lively to try to get back to the boat, but she was being pulled further and further away. I could sense her look of apprehension, and frustration. So could everyone else. She was now just a spot in the water. I got the attention of Captain Lady Boy. She immediately took command. Her/his voice dropped an octave or two as she started giving orders to the crew. They threw her a life ring on a stern line which was about 60 feet too short. Then they tossed her an unattached life ring. It too fell short of the mark, but smart Mary Ann let it drift toward her until she could reach it and hold on. Now she waspaddling again, but to no avail. It got to the point where all we could see was the orange life ring.
I started to say something to Captain Lady Boy but she was a step ahead of me. She got one of her crew to get in the dinghy. He tried to start it for a few minutes while Mary Ann drifted further away. The engine would not catch, so he started paddling towards her. He finally got to her.
Everyone on board was shouting encouragement in French, German and Australian, none of which I understand. The Aussie looked at me and said “Is that all you are going to do mate, take pictures?” The only thing I could say was “It is not everyday you get rescued.”
Mary Ann was too tired to get into the dinghy. The rescuer figured he would motor back with her holding on. It took him five minutes to get the little 2 1/2 HP Tohatsu to start. Alas, the current was too strong for the dinghy to get back. The rescuer yelled some Thai at Captain Lady Boy. The driver of Junque started the engine and made a nice round-about and pulled up next to the dinghy. There was Mary Ann gallantly holding on.
And now for the happy ending.
Needless to say, we had Martinis for dinner that night, and watched this sunset.
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