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Friday, May 29, 2009

May 23, 2009-Visit to Chiang Mai

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Judy at the top of Thailand

In May we flew to Chiang Mai for a long weekend with the idea of doing a little road touring and taking some photos. Late Thursday arrival; Friday morning pick up the rental car; and then head out for three days to see Chiang Mai and the surrounding area, mostly mountains and rivers.

This post contains the links to the wingssail images pages where all the photos can be found.

Chiang Mai
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First a few scenes from the city of Chiang Mai itself. We found Chiang Mai to be charming.

Breakfast at the Duang Champa
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See the boutique hotel where we stayed.

Wat Pan Tao
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Around the corner from the Duang Champa is this old wooden temple called Wat Pan Tao.

Click here to see Wat Pan Tao.

Dragons at Chedi Luang Chiang Mai
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Next to Wat Pan Tao is Chedi Luang Chiang Mai which is the site of a very old Chedi (pointed tower) now in ruins but still an impressive site.

Click here for more photos of Chedi Luang Chiang Mai

And we visited Bor Sang Umbrella Factory for a particularly important momento of Asia (see previous post)

Terraced Farm Land
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On Saturday we headed out of town to see some of Chiang Mai's famed mountains and hills. Along the way we found rivers and valleys, and several small Thai towns.

Click here, for shots of the toad trip

Judy visits a temple at the top of Thailand
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Near the top of Doi Inthanol, the tallest mountain in Thailand we stopped at the Napamaytanidol monuments to the King and Queen of Thailand. The air was cool and the location was spectacular.

Click here for a photo essay of Judy at Napamaytanidol.

More shots of Napamaytanidol.

Click here for some other shots we took on our way down the mountain.

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There were many signs along the road directing us to waterfalls and we decided to stop at this one. It was the last chance to see one before the light was lost to the shadow of the mountain. We were glad we stopped.

More waterfall shots.

After all the driving we needed some activity so that night in Chiang Mai we went looking for music. There are a few rock clubs along the river and after sticking our noses into three of them we ran into this great punk band at the Riverside. Here is a short video clip we made to the music of Franz Ferdinand. When the band played this song the whole house started jumping.

Doi Sutep, temple of gold
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After a late start on Sunday we made our way up to Chiang Mai's local mountain temple, the famous Doi Sutep. This temple nestled in the forest on the mountianside high above Chiang Mai has a stunning chedi of gold. In the late afternoon sun it glowed against the blue sky.

We had to climb a long set of stairs to get to it but it was worth it.
Click here for more shots of the Temple of gold
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Young Thai Dancer
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Where there are tourists you often find performers with a collection box on the ground who will dance or sing or play music for donations. At Doi Sutep there were a number of young kids playing music and dancing under the watchfull eye of their parents nearby. We put some extra baht in the box and took photos.

Click here for more photos of this girl.

Also, we took a river trip on the Ping River which flows through Chiang Mai.

Click here for some photos of the Ping River Boat Trip.

We pushed the weekend in Chiang Mai as long as possible only flying back to Bangkok at midnight on Sunday night, but we had a good, mostly relaxing, time and we are so glad that we finally got to see Chiang Mai. Next weekend we go back to Phuket for more boat projects.

We'll keep you updated.

Fred & Judy, Bangkok

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

May 9, 2009-Umbrella Factory

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Paper Umbrellas

A type of umbrella of wood and paper and waterproofed with the juice of persimmon has been made in Asia for centuries.

I first saw them in as a sailor Singapore in 1971 but even back then buying one was difficult. All I could find in the shops in 1971 were steel and black nylon umbrellas from Japan. Yet the paper ones had to be sold somewhere; the local people were using them every day on the streets of Singapore. The taxi driver I enlisted for my umbrella shopping quest was patient and I was persistent back in 1971 and after several stops we finally found a paper one for sale in a small shop which I bought from the elderly Chinese shopkeeper for a dollar and some small change, all I had in my pocket at the time. That umbrella became a treasured memento of Asia for me and found its way back to the USA in my Navy sea bag. It knocked around the house for many years and eventually lay gathering dust in the basement. I left it when I moved to the boat but I always missed that paper umbrella

This year I saw in a tourist brochure that there is a place in Northern Thailand where paper umbrellas are still made. Now I had a chance to revisit the Asia I knew from 1971.

Judy and I drove to Bor Sang and found several small factories where men and women made umbrellas of wood and paper, hand painted and waterproofed with persimmon juice, the same as Singapore in 1971.

It made for some interesting photos.

And yes, I bought another paper umbrella, three in fact. They are in a shipping box in the apartment Bangkok at the moment and we'll put them on the boat this time where they will replace the rusting and broken steel and nylon ones we carry under the port pilot berth.

Who says you can't go back.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Phuket

Click here for some more photos from Bor Sang

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

May 18, 2009, Update on Interior Project

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Paint & Varnish

We returned to Wings again on May 17 and were happy to find the varnish work completed and looking very nice indeed. With the fresh paint the main cabin now sparkles.

In addition to the paint and varnish we put in new cabin lights, new tap in the galley and several other minor jobs. There's lots more work to do, it's a boat isn't it?

Boat work is all part of owning a boat and it is never ending; but we're happy with the progress.

Click here for more shots of the results

Click here for the whole project

Fred & Judy, SV Wings. Phuket


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May 3, 2009-Road Tour of Phang Nga

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Hitting the Road

With the camera on the back seat, new items for the boat in the trunk (picked up at Home-Pro on the way out of town) and with a hastily packed bag, we hit the road.

What else could we do when we found ourselves in Phuket for three days with no where to sleep, (the boat was un-inhabitable) and with the workers aboard we couldn't even do our planned projects?

Take a drive.

Where to go? Koh Lantra came to mind but Nick and Zara said, "That is a long way, how about Khao Sak National Park"? I could see from his face he was appalled that we'd try to head to Koh Lantra; too far. So we got out a map. Yeah, Khao Sak looks good. Let's go.

Ok, we got a late start (or more truthfully our shopping detour before starting kept us in Phuket for far too long), so we had to make a stop Friday night short of reaching the national park. We found a hotel at the beach on the way, had a walk, a nice dinner, and then hit the road again the next morning.

For two more days we drove all over the Khao Sak area, took a lot of photos, took a hike in the jungle, got caught in the rain, got attacked by leeches (UGH), and saw a lot of neat scenery.

Click here
and here
and here
and here

to see the places we visited.

The town of Phang Nga was the best part. We've heard of this place, seen the signs for it, but never had anyone mentioned that it is in the most stunning setting for a town we've seen in a long time. Check out the last link above to see Phang Nga town, it is beautiful even in the rain.

Next week we are going to Chang Mai and plan another road trip there, so we'll have another of these reports. Someday we'll have sailing update too.

Fred & Judy, Thailand

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Monday, May 04, 2009

May 1, 2009-Change in Plans

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Definitely not habitable

Friday morning, arriving at Wings for a three day weekend, we had plans to complete some mechanical projects and possibly admire some shiny new varnish work.

We had no idea we’d find the varnish worker still there, the work unfinished, and the boat totally uninhabitable.

Flexibility, that’s the key.

With the interior completely disassembled, the boat covered in dust, and a man with sandpaper busy making more, we quickly realized we wouldn’t be staying on Wings that night and we couldn’t dig into the mechanical work either but we still had three days to kill.

What to do?

Within 30 minutes we had rented a car and we were headed out for a three day drive with a map of Thailand, a camera, and no fixed itinerary or destination.

It turned out to be a fun trip and a good adventure. We’ll have a report and some photos soon. Meanwhile click here for some more photos of our interior project.

We’ve been looking at a bad paint job on Wings’ interior walls since they were sloppily done by a so-called painter we hired in Sydney in 2001. When the results are bad and you have to look at it day after day, year after year, you really come to regret not getting right the first time. Our walls had runs, bubbles, wrinkles, and after 8 years were turning dingy yellow. We knew the only way was to tear into a big sanding job. David Nutt tipped me off on how to do this when we spent some time with the Nutt family of the yacht Danza in Mooloolaba that same year.

“How do you sand the walls without making a huge mess with sanding dust?” I asked.

David said, “Wet sanding keeps the dust down.”

“What about the water?”

“Just put down a towel at the base of the wall where you are working.”

Well David was a boat builder and a competent guy so I stored away that bit of instruction. Now in 2009 it was time to put it to the test. We bought a sleeve of 80 grit wet and dry, found two good sanding blocks, and got at it.

The results were immediately promising; by the next day we had sanded one wall, two surfaces out of 21 in the main cabin, and they were very smooth. But this used up the weekend and I had to head back to work in Bangkok. To keep the project going Judy stayed on the boat and we hired Hasan and his various nephews to spend the next week sanding and we showed Hasan how to use a powerful work light to cast a shadow which revealed any slight waviness. We were determined to have a great job.

When I returned the cabin was ready for paint. Working slowly, with high quality enamel and small foam rollers, we repainted the walls. It took three coats, and lots of care to get a shiny, high gloss, surface but in the end we had the nice walls that we wanted (OK, bulkheads for you die-hard boating terminology fans).

Now we needed to re-do the varnish trim.

For this we hired Mali and his crew. That was three weeks ago, and it brings us full circle to today.

Our interior project still includes upholstery, lighting, new shelves and taps in the galley, and we don’t know what else, and there will be plenty of mechanical projects later too.

But, by remaining flexible we turned a setback in our plans into an opportunity.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Phuket

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