What if you could take Phuket's most romantic aspects, weave them all together and set sail with them? The result, I'm sure you can imagine, would be something close to sensational.
Happily enough this is a dream that is possible to attain.
Sunset, romance, good food, wine and adventure; they're all here on the Ayodhaya dinner sunset cruise.
- Phuket FantaSea Cultural Theme Park
- Phi Phi Islands Tour with Express Boat
- James Bond Island Full-Day Tour via Big Boat
- Coral & Racha Islands Full-Day Tour
- Whitewater Rafting & 4-Wheel-Drive Adventure
- Sea Kayaking at Ang Thong Marine Park
- Flying Hanuman Ziplining Experience
- Canoeing Excursion in Phang Nga Bay with Thai Buffet Lunch
- Introduction to City Tour
- John Gray's Cave Canoeing Tour in Phang Nga Bay
The junk 'Ayodhaya' is sitting squarely in the water: she's a two-master and a solid-looking thing and we have no problem boarding her from the shuttle boat. A couple of minutes later she's chugging out to Phang Nga Bay and I'm chugging a beer.
The junk has good safety features; not least of which is a solid safety rail and roping around its sides. The rhythmic thumping of the huge diesel motor below deck is assuring and the crew members quietly competent.
Our evening's guide Holger, is one of Phuket's most experienced, and is due to celebrate his 21st year in Thailand the day after this cruise. He goes from group to group with his map, explaining where our hotels are and where we are now.
Islands slip by in the gathering sunset and the water soon thickens from turquoise to deep blue to black as the sun slips behind the mountainous coastline of Phuket. However, islands further east in the bay are still briefly in the sunlight, creating a bizarre double lighting effect.
On board, the atmosphere is loose and easy as people get to know each other. There are some lawyers from Germany, a Russian couple with a baby and us and it's no time before we are chatting amiably. Man, our Thai beerman, does the rounds to make sure we're all topped up and before we know it, it's dark and the boat's atmospheric lighting arrangement is turned on.
Ayodhaya never takes more than 16 people so there's plenty of space at all times. Downstairs, there's a bar and washrooms and if you choose you can also sit behind the captain on a wooden ornamental bench above the boat's stern. However, we all gather in the central part, sitting on cushions and peeking out at the passing islands. Man offers us some wine and we gladly accept as the beer was rather filling.
Wonderful aromas creep up from below deck; my stomach reacts accordingly and, what with the sea breeze, pretty soon I'm not the only one on board who has a healthy appetite. The food is laid out and we all tuck in. There's spaghetti and bolognaise sauce, whole grilled fish, fried chicken, egg and potato salad, cashew nuts, barbecued chicken and shrimps along with mixed vegetables and it's all healthy and tasty stuff. The lights are low and the moon is rising and over there is Koh Lawa on the horizon.
It's a funny thing; during the day this body of water is quite busy as tour boats take their charges out to James Bond Island and other popular spots. But past sunset it's a whole other world and the only other vessels you will see are small fishing boats scurrying to and fro as they check their lobster traps and nets.
The dinner was filling; the supply of wine seemingly endless and if you know of a more romantic combination of sailing under a full moon, drinking red wine please let me know.
The water in the bay is calm and the atmosphere enchanting, especially when the moon rises and silvers the tops of the gentle waves. However, all good things must come to an end and after a while the Ayodhaya points her prow north and we head back to Laem Sai.
Most of us fall silent and watch the stars or the lights on shore. Romantic music fills the air and the general atmosphere is that of contentment. If you ever thought about taking a tour of Phang Nga Bay but at the same time avoiding the crowds this is for you. To some extent this is like a tour of Patong in the early morning – it's completely deserted and all the wild life is sleeping…
It's been a wonderful jaunt and everyone I've met has been genial and helpful. The food was great and the junk safe as houses. We're back at the hotel by nine o' clock and ready for anything. Would I do it again? For sure – but next time I won't take a cameraman; I'll take my girlfriend. She'd love it.