Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Grasshoppers...it's what's for dinner.

One of the best things about Thailand is its food.  Everywhere you go, things are fresh, spicy, and just down right delicious.  The curries are amazing, the seafood is cooked perfectly, the veggies are fresh from the market.  For cruisers, the grocery stores carry everything anyone could ever want….fresh local food, imported meats, a variety of cheeses, seafood, you name it.  Out of all these choices, guess what Jake wanted for dinner?  Grasshoppers.  To be fair, the freezer he was making his choice from had much grosser things – water bugs anyone?  Or perhaps you would like to split a giant toad with your partner (complete with head)?  If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you know we indulge his inner Bear Grylls and buy these nasty things from time to time.  So that’s how we found ourselves having oysters and grasshopper po-boys for dinner tonight (I’m guessing folks in Louisiana aren’t cringing as much as the rest of you guys).

The oysters here in the Makro market come in the little round plastic tubs for 30 Baht per tub (about $1 USD) and they’re extremely fresh, so we eat them quite often.  The grasshoppers on the other hand were closer to 425 baht per kilo and of course you can’t get anything less than a kilo.  Jake has been asking for them every time we go to the store (although I’m not sure why…he had them fresh in OK and thought they were disgusting).  Since we were already going to have the oil hot tonight for the oysters, we relented and spent the $15 USD or so on the frozen grasshoppers (and I balk when Andy buys a ribbye at $15/pound). 

fried grasshoppers don't make a very pretty picture, but you get
the idea.

 When Andy opened the bag, we had to open the door to the little bungalow here to keep from gagging.  But he trudged on….into the oil they went.  So there was our table set…baguette, coleslaw, fried oysters, and big plate of fried grasshoppers, eyes and all.  Guess who didn’t like the grasshoppers?  Of course he didn’t!  He never likes these things…when will we learn?  Guess who cleaned their plate?  Yep…Andy and I…crunchy with a little bit of a smoky, burnt taste.  Not bad.  I hear that we can’t sustain our eating habits at the rate this world is procreating and we’ll all be eating bugs in a few years anyway.  We thought we would just get a leg up on everyone.  Cheers!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Hauled out in Thailand

Here we are about to come out of the water (pulled
by a tractor attached to a large cable).
We’ve been hauled out now for almost a month and with the exception of waiting on a new transmission, things seem to be going pretty well.  Before we came to Thailand, we did a lot of research on boat yards both here and in Malaysia.  We heard nothing but horror stories about Thailand – things taking twice as long as quoted, twice (or three times) the amount quoted, and even so much as holding your boat hostage until you pay more money – so we put a fair amount of effort into trying to find a yard in Malaysia.  Unfortunately, no one would respond to our emails and phone calls.  We decided that wasn’t a good sign and could be an indication as to how they ran their yard.  We had an appointment with a yard in Satun, Thailand (at the recommendation of a fellow cruiser) but then we met up with a couple that tipped us off to G&T.  Owned by Gerry and Toi (hence the ‘G&T’), it’s located in Phuket, just south of Apo Marina and specializes in catamarans, mainly because there is a huge mud flat that you have to cross at high tide.  We only had a meter under us when we hauled.  We emailed Toi and immediately got a response so we decided to go for it.

Halfway through powerwashing...dirty, dirty, dirty

So far, I’m impressed.  Immediately after we were out of the water, the guys went to work on the pressure washer and we met with Toi with our list of things we needed.  She’s a project manager type and got to work right away on lining up people for our needs.  We had an upholsterer and woodworker show up the same day and an appointment with a mechanic within the hour.  She directed us towards someone who would make us a new trampoline and immediately ordered our bottom paint.  

The primer is on...looks better already.

More primer for the front deck.  Jake likes the red.  He thinks
we should paint the whole boat that color.

Engine, sans transmission.  Still waiting.
A few weeks later and everything is pretty much finished with the exception of our transmission.  It took a week for the guy to show up and another week for him to tell us we needed new parts.  It took us nearly another week to find anyone who would call us back, only to find out it’s cheaper to get a whole new transmission than 6 tiny little parts.  So here we sit, waiting on a part to get from Holland to the US (MA to be exact…aren’t they snowed in?) and then from the US to Langkawi and then finally here to Thailand.  I have nothing good to say so I’ll just move on.

The only other bad experience we had was with the woodworker.  We had two fairly small projects – replacing the middle strip on our front deck (10 planks of hardwood) and a new table top (we’re quite attached to ours and want to take it home as a keepsake).  They quoted us 16,000 baht (over $500 USD) for the 10 planks and 16,000 baht for the table top (we didn’t even ask for legs!).  We said no and Gerry took Andy to a local wood shop.  We ended up getting the 10 planks for 3,000 baht ($100 USD).  Later, we found out they had tried to snow over some other folks as well.  They ordered (and charged them for) teak cabinets and they showed up painted.  When they made them take the paint off, they found out it wasn’t teak at all.  Oops….  So I say, if you’re in Phuket and looking for a woodworker, avoid Nai – I believe their shop is near Yachthaven Marina (for full disclosure, our friends seemed happy with their work...I think they were just here too long and expectations fell).  As for the table…we found a really cool piece of wood for 450 baht ($15 USD) and we’re sanding and refinishing it now.  I think it’s going to look really nice.

As for any other review…I’ll post them on my notes over in the Cruising Notes section so as not to bore the general population.

Other good things about G&T…they have “bungalows” for you if you don’t want to stay on your boat.  Bungalows is in quotes because it’s actually a small trailer, but they’re pretty nice…clean, air conditioning, satellite tv, bed, and hot showers.  There’s also a small fridge, hotplate (that burns everything) and sink for washing dishes.  We’re actually feeling quite spoiled.  Jake said he could live here for a year.  I think we’ve raised a son with low expectations for his living space…we should be ok when we get home!  Andy sleeps on the boat at night because the mattress here is killing his back, but he’s certainly enjoying the tv and air conditioning.

It’s not all perfect.  Thai time is in effect which means that every appointment or conversation happens at least an hour past what time you expect it to happen, or even a day or two. Internet sucks, so I have to either stand on the other side of the boat yard in one particular spot (in the hot sun) with my iPad in my hand, or walk up the street to the internet cafĂ©.  We’re not really close to anything so we have to borrow someone’s truck or rent a car or walk (that actually hasn’t been much of an issue for things we need, but it’s kept our touring down quite a bit).  While the materials here are cheap, if you’re dealing with someone who specializes in yachts, you can bet they’re going to stick it to you.  I’m pretty sure we’re getting screwed on at least two items, but there’s really nothing you can do about it when it’s the only option you have.  But whenever we get frustrated, we just look at our neighbor and see all the issues he’s having and count our blessings.

In general, living in a boatyard sucks, but it doesn’t suck so bad here.  With that said, we’re all ready to get back on board and back in the water.  Counting down the days…  "After" pics to follow!