Five minutes after we climbed aboard the motorized rubber boat we had left Phuket City harbor and were climbing aboard the aft deck of The Siam Junk. At 112 feet long and 29 feet wide, she’s built for comfort. Today it was ours.
Welcomed aboard and adorned with floral leis, a Thai tradition, we climb to the main deck and take in our craft for the day. Bright red lines are meticulously curled, cushions beckon those who like to sprawl, tables , chairs and banquettes satisfy others.
Host and co-owner of the charter yacht John Bethel makes sure we’re comfortable before signaling the crew. They emerge, bearing a tray of luscious fruit and strings of firecrackers to offer for a propitious voyage. After the barrage of explosions over the bow we are underway.
The sea air softens the steamy hot day and we revel in our relief. John, who left the chill of the UK five years ago, gives us a tour of the six en suite guest cabins. The Asian touch for spare chic works well here and I wish ours was a longer cruise, especially when John talks of the fantastic beaches and sights to be seen between here and Viet Nam. Of course I would want the Seabreeze VIP suite with its own private deck terrace and I’d take advantage of head steward Tee’s partner Em, a qualified Thai massage masseuse.
Sipping mimosas and slipping through the azure waters speckled with mystically-shaped small islands is pretty close to heaven but it does whet the appetite. Fortunately, John is a food connoisseur and has engaged some of the area’s best chefs. Anyone who charters Siam Junk can choose Asian, fusion or Western fare.
John’s Asian menu – Beef Nam Tok, cold beef salad served on cucumber coins; chilled Tom Ka Soup shots with poached prawns; Tom Yam Goong, hot and sour shrimp soup; yellow curry with chicken and pumpkin; fried fish with chili sauce; Som Tam Thai, traditional papaya salad; crab fried rice and for dessert, mango and sticky rice – had us salivating in anticipation.
Eating outdid anticipation.
All too soon we had rounded the tip of Phuket Island and sailed halfway up its western side, where we found Cunard’s Queen Mary anchored out from shore. No boat envy among our group. The giant liner’s passengers envied us.