It has been a very long day today but it has mainly been an administrative day and we haven’t covered much distance. Tonight is the first night I’ll be on board the boat that Intrepid are using for the trip and it seems nice so far. The bedroom I’ll be sharing is quite small but I knew this in advance – boats like this are designed to maximise the public areas.
This morning I got up fairly early and headed down to the breakfast buffet to meet my room mate who, by this point, had already been for a run, had a shower and eaten most of his breakfast. He said he was an early riser! The breakfast was really nice, especially the omlettes, and there was more than enough selection for everybody.
Time for some last minute repacking and we were whisked off to the immigration pier by tuk tuk where we met our local guides who would escort us across the border and be with us during the week. The immigration process only took 10 minutes including the time taken when one of our group was quizzed by Thai immigration about the length of their stay (this is as if you’re only leaving for a day you don’t receive an exit stamp to try to avoid the visa run). Then it was time to board the boat which was to take us across the border and, after boarding, we met up with Jill our last remaining group member. It turns out she is doing the trip for a second time as she enjoyed it so much which means we should be in for a spectacular trip!
The boat journey to Myanmar took around 20 minutes, although for political reasons we didn’t land on the mainland and went straight to the sailing boat where our visas were processed on board by Myanmar Immigration officials. The entry process for Myanmar was a lot longer than when I entered Thailand and in total we had to wait for 3 hours in order for our passports, visas and permits for the archipelago to be processed. One thing I don’t like is that while we’re in Myanmar the officials will be keeping our passports to make sure we come back. I guess we won’t be needing it this week but I don’t like being without my passport when travelling.
Then it was time to set sail. The journey today was very short and was only designed to get us as far as a sheltered anchorage out of the main shipping lanes ready to start the main part of the trip. After dinner we discovered that our anchorage would be shared with fishing boats tonight as we were in the middle of a prime fishing area. The method of fishing in this part of the world is to wait until night then deploy rows of lights to attract fish and squid that will get trapped in nets suspended below the boat. Fairly primitive but effective.
The scenery and sunset were beautiful tonight but we’ve been told they don’t even compare to what we have to come!