Cruising Like Bond in Thailand
This morning, Silversea’s elegant Silver Shadow came alongside in Phuket, Thailand under cloudless skies and climbing temperatures. This is our only port of call in Thailand on this particular voyage, and I was eager to make the most of it.
We have a shorter port call today, with a departure time of 1400 hours, or 2:00pm. This is necessary in order for us to reach Yangon by morning on Saturday. It also happens to be quite welcomed by guests aboard Silver Shadow, many of whom are ready for a relaxing afternoon at sea.
It is true that it’s easy to do too much on a cruise. Call it the “fear of missing out.” I am also guilty of that; I think I’ve pushed myself too hard on the previous days, and today I feel like the heat is getting to me.
Nevertheless, I pre-booked myself the longest tour I could possibly take today in Phuket: Silversea’s 5.5-hour Phang Nga Bay by Speedboat (HKT-F). At $199 per person, it isn’t cheap. But it proved to be one of the most memorable tours I’ve taken so far this cruise.
A 40-minute drive east of the cruise terminal took us to the local marina, where we boarded our speedboat. To my unbounded relief (I forgot to pack a hat on this trip), half of the speedboat is covered, with space for about a dozen or so guests up front on the uncovered bow portion. I’d much rather escape the searing sun, and wasn’t disappointed when our Captain kicked things up to 56 knots, and a cool cross-wind swept through the aft cabin.
The scenery we experienced here is unparalleled. Google ‘Phuket’, and you’ll more likely come up with images of Khao Ping Kan Island – perhaps better known as James Bond Island. It was on this island that the last scene of the Bond flick, The Man with the Golden Gun, was filmed. Today it is hot, overrun with tourists, and absolutely beautiful.
What’s interesting to me, on a personal level, is how many Russian tourists are here in Thailand. Nearly everyone I encountered on James Bond Island seemed to be speaking Russian. There were no Americans here, and only a handful of Brits and Aussies. One conclusion that can be drawn: the Russian’s clearly aren’t worried about travelling the world.
We also stopped at the floating village of Koh Panyi for a brief visit to the local school, and to admire the sights. With over 200 houses on stilts, the original inhabitants of the village actually came here from Indonesia two centuries ago. The heat, even at eleven in the morning, was stifling. Yet inside the darkened enclosure of restaurants and shops that comprised the streets of the village, it was refreshingly cool. The same can’t be said for the courtyard the kids played in; you could have cooked an egg on the thing.
However, what you notice about travelling the world like this is that we’re really all the same. We all learned our A-B-C’s. We all had to read and write and take mathematics. The only thing that’s different is the setting in which we did it. I certainly didn’t go to school on a floating village surrounded by the most gorgeous scenery ever, but then again, these kids have never seen the snow that I saw growing up.
Afterwards, we cruised for an hour back to the pier, and reboarded our coach to the awaiting Silver Shadow. As the mercury climbed higher, we dropped our lines and a cool breeze finally wafted across the pool deck as Silver Shadow climbed to her cruising speed of 14 knots for this leg of our journey.
Relais & Chateaux Evenings
This afternoon, I was invited to attend a private Relais & Chateaux culinary event: a wine and food pairing held in Le Champagne on Deck 7. Silversea has long been affiliated with this prestigious culinary institution, and is still the only cruise line in the world to be affiliated with Relais & Chateaux, which counts some of the world’s leading hoteliers and restaurants as its members.
This intimate gathering in Le Champagne is a new event for Silversea, having just been rolled out over the past year. It is currently offered to guests staying in the line’s top suites, and to high-ranking Venetian Society (past guest) members. It is meant to supplement the premium wine tasting that is held on the first sea day that comes at a cost of $65 per person.
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