Ron & Joanne left Pensacola, FL 5 years ago on their Antares Miss Jody to circumnavigate the world – currently they are traveling in China
This report is our 5th anniversary since Miss Jody departed Pensacola Fl on a six month trip to the Caribbean. Some where along the way we lost our direction.
Miss Jody and crew have spent the last three months in Thailand. We anchored in Ao Chalong Bay off of the South end of Phuket- Thailand’s most popular Island. There are over 150 boats of all types anchoredin the bay. They are spaced 50-100 feet apart until the wind shifts , then it may be closer. We have only been drug onto one time, no damage done. The community along the bay has most everything you might need. Nice grocery stores, cheap restaurants, most with good food. The street leading to the waterfront is lined with bars, touting massage, staffed by beautiful young ladies, offering their services. We have never been in a place where the sex trade is so openly practiced. The locals are very kind and helpful and security is no issue.
We spent time touring the famous Phang Nga Bay. There are over a hundred islands in this area- many of them steep karst [sandstone] outcrops. James Bond Island received it’s name and fame when the Man With the Golden Gun was filmed here. Phi Phi Island is a popular tourist destination and suffered a tremendous loss of life during the tsunami of 2004. We also explored several “hongs” These are areas inside the islands that open up to beautiful bays on the interior of the mountain, accessible only by small caves- many very difficult to find. Every place we anchored we were visited by fisherman selling big beautiful pawns, crab or squid. We enjoyed diving and snorkeling and shelling.
Kristin came to spend time on Miss Jody and explored many of the islands with us. She and I had the luxury of spending two nights at the Hilton Resort- thanks to her Hilton Honors points. We shopped till we dropped and enjoyed several Thai Massages. It was wonderful to get to spend time with her.
Ron and I traveled to Bangkok and Chaing Mai, Thailand’s two largest cities. We toured many beautiful temples and of course did a little shopping. We also spent the day at an elephant park and got to ride through the mountains on Billy, a 30 year old female with her mahout, Suk. My favorite experience was getting to hold a two month old tiger cub and also spend several hours with several bigger tigers. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
We also spent a few days visiting New Delhi and Agra in India. We visited the Taj Mahal- the highlight of the trip. What an amazing place!!! We had been warned about the poverty in India but were stillshocked. The shopping center across the road from our hotel looked like a bomb had exploded, cracked and dirty concrete, trash everywhere. The people walking around the stores were nicely dressed and didn’t appear to notice their surroundings. There was a TGI Fridays, MacDonalds and several other nice stores and a huge flat screen TV blasting music videos. There were several homeless people sleeping in the dirt. Such a dichotomy. We traveled by train to Agra -to see the Taj Mahal- and we passed slums built of cardboard, people sleeping in fields and squatting along the railroad tracks using the bathroom. No one seemed to notice as the train sped past. I don’t think we will ever quite get over the shock. It again reminds us how very lucky we are.
We went on a tour of the Great wall and the Ming Tombs. Construction of the Wall began during the Qin Dynasty, 221 BC but the majority of it was completed during the Ming Dynasty (1368- 1644) What an amazing engineering accomplishment, over 4000 miles long. Ancient brick kilns have been discovered close to sections of the Wall where brick makers actually fired the bricks.
We flew to Xian, the city made famous by the Terra cotta Warriors, discovered in 1974 by farmers digging a well. The site encompasses three large vaults housing over 8000 soldiers. They were built by Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi in the 3rd century BC as part of his massive mausoleum that took 36 years for several hundred thousand workers to complete. There are horses and chariots and everything an army would need. It is truly an amazing site. The Chinese government has built hanger like structures over the site to protect the work as they continue to excavate.
Our next stop was Guilin, a town that is famous for the Li River and the beautiful mountainous limestone karst. On our flight to Guilin we got to watch the man sitting next to us eat his meal and then proceed to clean all of the little containers with napkins and put them in his carry on. this included the tray that the food was served on. We’ve never seen anything like it!
We spent a day touring the Li Jiang River. We cruised for several hours to Yangshuo- a beautiful riverside town that provides another river tour- this time on individual bamboo rafts. We got to watch the ancient art of cormorant fishing. The fisherman stands on a small bamboo raft that he poles along. the birds are tied by one foot to the raft and he releases one at a time to fish. When the bird catches something he comes back to the raft and the fisherman grabs his throat and presses the fish out of his mouth. There is a small line tied to the throat of the cormorant so he cannot swallow the fish. Sounds cruel but these birds are their lively hood and supposedly taken well care of.
Our next stop was Shanghai. What an amazing city. We stayed just off the river very close to the famous Bund area. The people watching was spectacular- thousands of people. you just stepped into the flow of people and got swept along. We loved Shanghai, the old city and the new. We spent a day at the 2010 World Expo, that was a treat. We were proud of the USA exhibit and had hoped to visit the China pavilion but there was a two day wait for tickets.
We flew to Hong Kong and stayed with friends we had met in Singapore aboard their catamaran in Raffles Marina. They live on the 51st floor of a condo in Hong Kong and travel back and forth. The condo is in a complex with a huge outlet mall as well as the MTR, subway station. So we enjoyed exploring Hong Kong and Kowloon using the MTR and ferries.
We were both so surprised that the infrastructure in all of the cities we visited were equal to the US. The trains and subway systems, far superior. There were clean public rest rooms everywhere we went, with toilet paper, which is unheard of the other parts of Asia that we visited. The people were friendly – there were just way too many people. Traffic was a nightmare but everyone cooperated and it seemed to move most of the time. Food was probably our biggest challenge. There were few Western restaurants- except of course McDonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut. I would like to say that I lost a few pounds but no worries- I took lots of snacks!!