When I was getting the long series of immunizations in preparation for our trip, a nurse recommended John Gray’s Sea Canoe Hong by Starlight tour and we decided to stay another night in Phuket to check it out. It was one of the experiences that slightly redeemed the island. For ten hours, our tour boat wove its way around the various tiny islands that pepper the eastern bay of Phuket. The food on the cruise was delicious and included ample vegetarian options, which is becoming increasingly difficult for Tiffanie to find.
At multiple points, we were deployed in sea kayaks to explore interior lagoons and marvel at limestone caves. Our guide and paddler extraordinaire, Tay, spoke very little English but was eager to interact whenever possible. He also helped us create an offering to place in the water on our final excursion away from the main boat. It was after dark and the phosphorescent plankton danced across the water if disturbed. Tay conducted us back through a cavern in the dark so we could swish our hands through the water and enjoy the green sparkles flitting from our fingertips.
The hour trip back to the mainland was spent chatting it up with a few of the guides at the front of the boat. As luck would have it, one of the guides offered to take us out to a bar after we recharged back at the hostel. And not just any guide, but the only girl. And not just any girl, but a lesbian. And not just any bar, but an underground gay club, complete with a live band and a BYOB policy with free mixers. We grabbed a fifth of whiskey from next door and spent the evening surrounded by locals having a riotous good time. When I say surrounded by locals, I mean that we were the only two white people there and got some seriously awesome weird stares. Also, Tiffanie is now a pro at Thai toilets. This was the other experience that redeemed Phuket.
Somewhere around 1:30 am, we wandered off to a pop-up food spot and our new friend rattled off food requests in Thai, which resulted in a giant vegetarian-friendly omelet for Tiff and a big bowl of Tom Yum Gai for me. The roosters were crowing when we returned, but that doesn’t mean much.