|Queen of the Oceans|
Part 3: Phuket
By Capt. Ian van der Watt—February 2002
Even though we hated to leave, we had a rendezvous with guests in Phuket, Thailand. We had contacted the folks at Phuket Yacht Haven after reading an Asian magazine where the marina was advertised. The artist's impression of the marina was our first foray into Asian commercials, where places are advertised long before any ground has actually been broken.
Even though we had been corresponding with them, the staff omitted to tell us that the marina had not yet been built. While cruising up towards it, we passed a few floating docks and actually commented to each other that the area must be becoming popular if they were already building another marina so close to the one we were looking for!
However, although the floating docks turned out not to be connected to the mainland and we had to use a tender to go ashore, the marina was a fabulous spot to stay a month at--quiet and peaceful yet close to the many attractions of Phuket. One of the undoubted highlights was having Thai food prepared from scratch at a restaurant in the Banyan Tree Resort....
We set off for the Indonesian Archipelago. The island of Bali is a mesmerizing place. We were overwhelmed by the grace of the people and the magnificent sense of style they all seemed to be born with.
The true beauty lies in towns like Ubud and the other areas inland from the beach, with their immaculate rice fields and gardens. Exotic, charming, easygoing, and tranquil, the old-style way of life is in full flow here, with almost everyone seeming to be an artist or craftsman of some sort....
Close to Bali is the slightly more rural island of Lombok, another essential name for any cruising list. This is famous for its weavers, who make the most fantastic baskets, and the spice markets are a treat for the senses. The rest of our Indonesian tour consisted of less well-known islands: Komodo, Sulawesi, Sumbawa, and Flores.
The Komodo dragons are unique to the island after which they are named. They are also a delight for those wanting to relive visions conjured up as children--especially if your dragons were man-eaters! We took the guided tour and saw our fair share of these almost mythical creatures. They are the largest monitor lizards in the world, growing up to three meters [10 feet] in length and weighing as much as 125 kilos [250 pounds]. The rangers pointed out that the "dragons" have the run of the island and are good swimmers. It was at that point we decided to cease jumping overboard for a dip....
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.