Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Nerve-Wrecking Climb up Sail Rock @ Similan Islands No 8 [Phang Nga Province (Near Phuket), Thailand]

The alien-faced rock perched atop a body of stones was impressive enough but the real attention catcher for me were the people standing next to the iconic rock, known officially as sail rock! A wrong step and it would likely result in a bloody mess, literally. 

However, that still didn't stop my dad and i to attempt the same climb! Okay, i admit it did stop me as i don't take kindly to heights, especially with the apparent lack of safety measure, but my dad is the priority for this Phuket trip and he was keen. 

Thankfully, there was a proper trail. 

It's an upward climb (for obvious reason) although i would like to highlight a few points for those intending to go up; important notes for safety consideration which you would continue to read and see examples of it as you proceed along this post. 

Holes between wooden planks; please navigate with care as there's a psychological haste to quickly go up to check out the rock given the limited amount of time given on the island. 

Rope railing wasn't a guaranteed feature along the trail and even if there was; you would need sufficient strength to pull yourself up and down the steps, which might not even be made of proper wood / concrete. 

I have mentioned before that Similan Islands have a policy of no-shoe on the nine islands. Unless you have a pair of water shoes (as i had), being barefooted has a certain level of risk for urban dwellers. 

Like the above gentleman who got quite a bad cut on his toe when he was coming down the stairs! It happened right in front of me and Alex was so taken aback; he decided not to join us any further.

Passage wasn't wide and patience is a required virtue when you have a large group coming down and another long line going up! If no improvement work is in the pipeline, I think it's just a matter of time that people will start pushing each other.

Now that you are aware of the risks, let's continue with our hike! 

Don't just focus on the ground since the path could be blocked by large pieces of rock and ducking is the only way to get through; at moment like this, i am grateful that i am not tall. 

Being short also means i have a lower centre of gravity and this would make it less daunting to walk across despite the immediate drop. As the side was filled with trees, my fear of height didn't kick in.

Given that there's only so much space, please don't run and ensure your kids are under control too! In addition, please get a pair of water shoes. In Singapore, you can grab a pair of aqua / water shoes for less than S$10 at Decathlon

Sometimes, the paths were separated for those going up and coming down. 

A proper staircase - as city dwellers, it's true that we take a lot of things for granted. On one hand, i love the convenience although on the other hand, having a staircase tends to reduce the nature-ness of the place. 

Arrival at the first viewpoint! Since Sail Rock is THE icon of Similan Islands, be prepared to see hordes of tourists vying for the best shot! 

Just like my dad! It's a pity i didn't inherit his genes for bravery as i absolutely wouldn't dare to step towards where he was standing to take this picture! If fear hits, i would likely lose my balance.

View of Donald Duck Bay; why was a Disney name given? Answer shall be revealed when i blog about Similan Islands No 8 as a whole.

Wooden planks across two rocks; as mentioned before, please don't run. I wouldn't be surprised if my colleagues in the safety office were to generate a long list of potential safety risks if they were ever asked to evaluate the trail.

Another view of the bay.

We continued our journey as the experience we had at James Bond Island two days ago told us not to waste any more time and to go all the way up first. 

Signs were put up to deter visitors from walking on the rocks. However, there wasn't any enforcement official and it's really up to individuals. Risk takers would gladly ignore them.

Taking photos of dad along the way whenever the crowd was thin! 

Finally at the top-end of the trail; the view was not bad although i guess the reward was more our perseverance to go all the way up in spite of the glaring lack of safety. 

Someone kindly helped me to take a photo of my dad and me; come to think about it, why didn't i leave my snorkeling mask with Alex?! 

Remember the Sail Rock? That's the bottom of it and it appeared that certain measures were undertaken to ensure the rock was attached to the large one below. 

Didn't take a picture with the Sail Rock as there was a line of people queuing for the shot  and my camera wasn't able to capture its full-scale splendor anyway; hence, no point.  

Going back! From the many photos taken, you would have noticed that people are usually barefooted or wearing the aqua shoes. We were blessed with good weather that day when we visited as rain would have made the path slippery. 

Daredevils! I don't know how they managed to get to this section and presume they would likely have to traverse around the sail rock in order to get to this location.

No handrail for support and to prevent falling; stooping as low as possible and proceeding slowly would be the best strategy. 

Dad again! Signs were in Chinese too as the China market is too big to resist! In my recent trip to Bangkok, there were even dedicated immigration counters for the Chinese tourists! 

More photos that were taken on our descent. I am not one to waste the photos i took on my trip and i seeing is believing, most of the times! For example, the primitive yet necessary staircases, the tightness of the space sometimes, the dirt paths we were walking on. 

Informative panels; not many people have time to look at them i guess since most were focusing on the climb and it's not as if the hike up and down was supposed to be a therapeutic one. 

Dad was wearing my pair of aqua shoes as i was more worried he would hurt his feet! In addition, he almost drowned a few hours ago and in the midst of it, he had cut his ring toe. Therefore, he had a bigger need than i do.

An accomplished pose! 


Sail Rock, Similan Islands No 8,
Phang Nga Province (Near Phuket), Thailand

What else i did on my Phuket trip

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Real Grapes in the Chinese Terminology - [葡萄 (Putao) versus 提子 (Tizi)

In all my life, i know grapes as grapes and in Mandarin (Chinese); it has always been 葡萄 (Putao) and nothing else!  Therefore, i was amused (slightly offended) when a friend asked a few days ago if i am aware what a 葡萄 (Putao) was.

Turned out the grapes i have been buying from NTUC / Cold Storage supermarkets were not the same 葡萄 (Putao) that were ingrained in my almost 40-year-old brain! Shape-wise, 葡萄 (Putao) were rounder and larger although they do come in smaller sizes. 

The differences were more than just the shape as the real 葡萄 (Putao) don't have the "crunch" texture when you bite them. Even though you can eat the skin, the recommended way is actually to peel off a tiny portion first.

And then suck out the "guts" using your mouth! To be honest, it was shocking for the first time when the entire pulp easily slipped out of the skin; just like when we eat the jelly from the little jelly cups! 

Juicy pulp with a pleasurable sweetness that totally changed the erroneous definition i have had of  葡萄 (Putao)! Only problem is that they are not seedless although it's minimal effort to separate them in your mouth before spitting them out. 

Another problem; too addictive! So what does the Chinese call those other grapes that are, by definition, not 葡萄 (Putao)? They are known as 提子 (Tizi); a foreign word i have never ever heard before in my life! 

Thanks to Yit Oon for sharing the information, and the grapes!

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