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Monday, May 20, 2013

May 9 - 19th, 2013 - Getting Ready and Quick (fruitless) trip to Burma

We needed our sails repaired and a visa extension.
We once again rented a car and set off for the Rolly Tasker sail loft with our sails to be restitched. What a massive place! While there we picked up country flags for future ports in the Med and dropped off the sails.
Rolly Tasker Sail Loft

While we had the car for a few days we did a bit more shopping and stocking up and marveled at the crazy moped drivers on the freeway holding babies in their laps or out to the side riding down the road. No wonder so many die in traffic accidents here!

Since we are not going to Malaysia we have to leave the country to get a 30-day visa extension somehow. Zara at the marina office told us to get a bus to Rangoon and take a water taxi over to Burma, get our passports stamped and we will get 30 days. She forgot to tell us not to go until the last day of our current visa. We were looking at this as an adventure and were excited about the trip. Off we went at 4 AM on a miserable, hot and long bus ride to a filthy village where you can tell you are going to get ripped off so you just hold your breath and get ready for the ripoff. We were immediately set upon by helpful locals who wanted to take our money in order to show us where to go. Turns out it was only 2 blocks away but we paid anyway. Then we got in line to get our passports tamped and then another queue for a ride on one of the rickety little boats bobbing in the small harbor. There were so many open planks in the bottom of the boat I nearly broke an ankle. It was so creepy, we almost felt as though there was something untoward happening. Arriving at the Burmese border we were scrutinized by the scowling officials and told not to look at them or smile. I snapped off a couple of photos before being told that was illegal and I might lose my iPhone!  We then walked through a dirty village toward the customs office where, we were told to hire an agent. We paid a man who was standing around to get our passports stamped and then paid him to escort us back to our awaiting boat. Back across we went to Thailand where we stood in yet another queue to get stamped back in. To our horror, the Thai customs official only gave us 7 days! He said the extension starts today, not on the day our current visa expires, AND you now only get 14 days at this particular border crossing. OMG. We are in a world of hurt and frustration. We sulked back to the bus stop where we waited until 6 pm for the return bus, arriving back to Yacht haven late, tired and quite upset.
beckoning us aboard - had to step around prop!

Rangoon wharf

official pointing at me and yelling b/c I'm taking photos
Burma (Myanmar)wharf

dreading this wet and rough ride back!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

April 26 – May 8, 2013 Return to Phuket and Surprise Decision to Ship Destiny

Back to Phuket and Yacht Haven to complete the unfinished work on Destiny by the canvas maker. Since deciding to stay another year in Thailand we had arranged a berth in Penang and were eager to get back there, hunker in for the rainy season and enjoy the wonderful food and sites of that city again. BUT we were hit with a big surprise hearing that more of our friends here were shipping their yachts to Turkey. Even Scallywag with whom we had planned to spend the summer months announced that the only yacht transit company left on this route, 7-Star, was adding a May shipment from Phuket departing around the 16th, and they had decided it was time to move on. We have missed out on so much having had Destiny stuck to the dock in Yacht Haven that we didn’t want to leave yet. They asked us to think about shipping Destiny, warning us that the deadline was within a few days. Many considerations weighed on us in making this decision and I felt a real tug to get us closer to home to my daughter, grandson and ailing parents. The cost was just around $50,000 cash, which meant that we would have to liquidate some investments to make this happen. Eventually we decided to go for it and on May 8th we signed the contract within a hare’s breath of the deadline. Frank blogged about it, detailing our many reasons for deciding to ship the boat.

We spent as much time as possible with Ute and Hans (Taimada), rented a car to provision the boat with all of our favorite Thai products. Paul and Glor wanted to hit the beach at Patong, hearing that it was a do not miss. Well, we did and found that there is every reason that it is called “A paradise for Hedonists”. Teeming with a pretty disgusting lot of  international visitors. Anything goes here – so use your imagination. Glor and I walked along behind the boys laughing & watching them try not to stare at the eye candy.

More to come…meanwhile some interesting photos, including Thai rubber trees, sunset over the beach at Phang Nga and some humor.