Today was a very memorable day with lots of activities. We had a short steam of an hour while we were eating breakfast before arriving at Pnang Na Bay by 10am.
While the crew were getting ready to take us off on the tenders, the yacht was approached by some fishermen in one of the distinctive ‘long-tail’ boats you see (and hear thanks to their noisy engines) all around the region. It wasn’t long before Chef Liz was up bartering with the fishermen, and she was rewarded with a huge bowl full of freshly caught prawns.
Bartering with local fishermen
Chef Liz with fresh prawns, straight from the sea
Ready to go, we set off in the tenders for what was an amazing 20 minute tender ride through our picturesque setting. It’s hard to describe the beauty of our surroundings here, and while the photos go some way towards conveying it all, it’s the kind of thing you have to see for yourself to fully appreciate it.
Some of the striking landscaping around us
The tenders were navigated around numerous islands and rocky outcrops, all covered in lush vegetation. At one point we went through a natural rock arch, with stalactite-like structures hanging down. The day was extremely hot and the breeze as we drove along in the tenders was very welcome.
Making our way through the natural stone arch
Eventually we arrived at our destination, a Muslim floating village. Koh Panyee, also known as ‘the village on stilts’, is a fishing village that is home to around 1,600 people. The village has its own mosque, which was an impressive gold-topped structure compared to the other more humble dwellings that made up the village.
Approaching Koh Panyee
As we approached we got a good view of all the houses, many of which were extremely colourful although very basic. Near to the entrance of the village was an extensive market full of souvenir type items, which we browsed through. After spending some time wandering around the village we returned to the tenders to continue onwards.
Some of the colourful houses
Koh Panyee is know as the 'village on stilts'
More of the rows of houses that make up the village
Our next destination, about a minute by boat away from Koh Panyee, was Khao Khieh that bore some beautiful rock art that is only accessible by boat. Having done some research on our return to the yacht, I have discovered that it apparently dates to around 3,000 years ago. Amongst the figures we could make out fish, monkeys and people. It was very beautiful and I was thrilled to have seen it.
The beautiful rock art
After making our way back to the boat, via James Bond Island (of The Man With The Golden Gun fame) for a quick look, we sat down for lunch, which included the freshly caught prawns that Liz had bartered for earlier. Cooked in ginger and garlic they were fresh and delicious.
James Bond Island, another popular tourist destination
Our fresh prawns on the plate, mere hours later
By 3.30 a squall was rolling in, with thunder booming around the skies. It was quite welcome as the heat had been so oppressive that the storm was needed to break the heat. Just before the storm arrived, we had been planning to go and explore a nearby cave. Not letting the rain stand in our way, the ever-patient Ben and CJ kindly took us in the tender to a nearby cave. According the Ben, there are caves everywhere around this region, some of which you can explore by kayak when the tide is low.
Inside the cave
We were dropped on a little beach on one of the many small rocky islands, and climbed up a bamboo ladder that led from the beach into the entrance of the cave. I wasn’t expecting the cave to be so big and it continued very far onwards, hundreds of metres probably, with impressive stalagmites and stalactites throughout. The floor was like soft clay and we all stepped gingerly in the torchlight so as not to slip over. We eventually reached the end of the cave, where there was a natural opening looking out on to a beach below.
Making our way through the cave
Having made our way back, we were driven back to the yacht which then moved off back to our anchorage of the night before as Kirsten was leaving us and the anchorage is not too far from the airport.
A real treat before dinner was a video that CJ, the Bosun, had made of our trip (which I will post online as soon as I have a copy). How he found the time to look after us, do the filming and also edit and create such an amazing film in such a short space of time I do not know. We all agreed that having CJ’s videography skills on board would be a real bonus for charter guests as a special way of recording their trip. With the video over, it was time for our final dinner on board as most of us were leaving the yacht the next day.
Detail of another beautiful table setting from the stewardesses
It has been an incredible trip, truly unforgettable, and I will be very sad to leave the yacht. The whole crew – Captain Lawrie and his wife Jan, Ben (First Mate), CJ (Bosun), Jessie (Deckhand), Jo Jo (Deckhand), Vlad (Chief Engineer), Dima (Second Engineer), Tanya (Chief Stewardess), Leah (Second Stewardess), Joan (Stewardess) and Liz (Chef) – have been so kind and their service impeccable. I have been so impressed by the entire operation, the camaraderie and effortless interaction between the crew, and their genuine care for the guests.
Goodbye Northern Sun
The yacht itself is beautiful and stable, with so many useable spaces, and my huge thanks go to the owners for the generosity in letting us experience and enjoy their yacht. Thank you also to 37 South for organising this amazing trip. My fellow guests and I have been very privileged to have been a part of this experience and I have no doubt that Northern Sun will become a popular choice for charter guests wishing to explore this beguiling region that is so untouched compared to the milk run destinations that most yachts populate.
MENU – Day Five
Scones Fresh fruit and yoghurt Scrambled eggs with fresh herbs