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Da Junk on The Junk


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#1 JudyG

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 10:24 AM

I thought I would share a Thailand trip report I put together after a two week stay in Thailand in late 2007/early 2008, during which we did a one week liveaboard to Similans/Richelieu/Surins on the Junk, plus dove Phi Phi on a two day excursion out of Phuket.

It's a behemoth report - so grab a cuppa before you settle in, and feel free to skip ahead through the flight from hell saga to the diving bits ;^)

Thailand Trip Report

J.

#2 PIG004

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 10:58 AM

That must have taken you a while?
Nice report.

#3 shark6047

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 04:38 PM

Good report.
Thanks for taking the time to write it.

:P
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#4 oneyellowtang

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 08:37 PM

Interesting trip report...thanks for writing this up.

A couple of general comments:
- There are many (many) liveaboards that go out of Phuket. Several of them w/questionable seaworthiness for sure. Over the last 10+ years a few have sunk, a few have burned (and then sunk), and 1 or 2 have literally just sailed off and never returned...

- The Junk is definitely a mid-priced (& mid-quality) liveaboard. I'm glad you enjoyed it - I know lots of people that got very tired (like by day 2) of climbing down the ladder to get into the zodiac to go diving... the boat was never designed to be a dive boat, and for many the atmosphere (and style) doesn't make up for this over a week.

BTW - there are several Indonesian boats that have similar waterlines - but they've solved the loading/unloading problem better.

- Someone may be able to correct me, but I don't think they've seen a whale shark at Richelieu for a couple of years. Mark Strickland (then photopro/cruise director on the Ocean Rover) said they stopped showing up a while ago (very unfortunate).

- Farther north in Burma there is still some outstanding stuff to see, but the big sharks (Silvertips, etc.) are mostly all gone. There is also (still) dynamite fishing in the Mergui Archipelago, so some of the reefs aren't in great shape.

- Last: the west coast of Thailand is still a great place to dive, but (unfortunately) it's nothing like it was even 10-15 years ago (true for many destinations, I know...). For those of us who have lived in Thailand it's just a little sad (and frustrating) to see such a beautiful natural environment suffer because of the pressure put on by the ever-growing tourist population, and the lack of foresight by those responsible in managing the resource responsibly.

#5 JudyG

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 11:01 AM

A couple of general comments:

- The Junk is definitely a mid-priced (& mid-quality) liveaboard. I'm glad you enjoyed it - I know lots of people that got very tired (like by day 2) of climbing down the ladder to get into the zodiac to go diving... the boat was never designed to be a dive boat, and for many the atmosphere (and style) doesn't make up for this over a week.


Well, I've been on more than a few liveaboards, and other than diving off a dedicated rear dive deck (Turks & Caicos Explorer, California Truth Boats and Nekton Rorqual - and the trade-off there is you have to find the freaking boat as it is on a fixed mooring :lol: ), we've been required to somehow transfer from the mother ship to the tenders. A few steps down, with willing and able assistance from Junk crew, was seriously no big deal, and nothing near as difficult as stepping off the Galapagos Aggressor, fully kitted up, onto a bucking panga in six foot seas. Ymmv. The Junk is no Archipelago Adventurer, but in our opinion is a fun, modest budget option, although not particularly well set up if there were several photogs with large vid or dslr rigs on board.

- Someone may be able to correct me, but I don't think they've seen a whale shark at Richelieu for a couple of years. Mark Strickland (then photopro/cruise director on the Ocean Rover) said they stopped showing up a while ago (very unfortunate).


Whalesharks were reported as been seen in the week previous to our visit (December 2007).

- Last: the west coast of Thailand is still a great place to dive, but (unfortunately) it's nothing like it was even 10-15 years ago (true for many destinations, I know...). For those of us who have lived in Thailand it's just a little sad (and frustrating) to see such a beautiful natural environment suffer because of the pressure put on by the ever-growing tourist population, and the lack of foresight by those responsible in managing the resource responsibly.


How fortunate for you that you were able to dive Thailand before it became a diving mecca.

I consider myself quite well-traveled and have seen alot of healthy reefs - Fiji (Bligh Waters/east coast Viti Levu) , far northeastern Australia (Raine Island, detached reefs), Banda Sea, etc - no doubt that most if not all reefs are under at least some pressure from development, global warming, imbalances due to over-fishing and harvesting, but I thought that most of the reefs we visited in Thailand were in good condition (in fact, as I wrote in my report, in better condition than I would have expected for an area so heavily touristed) - I did not see evidence of coral disease or bleaching, and other than the areas I mentioned that appeared to be affected by dynamite fishing (a few sections on the Surin reefs) and tsunami damage (Koh Bon), the reefs looked very healthy and there was prolific fish life. Any less than stellar dives we did in Thailand were still (in our opinion) better than the best of the Caribbean that we've done - Cozumel, Bahamas (various locations), Roatan, Bonaire, Curacao, Cuba, Antigua, Turks & Caicos. I would be happy to dive in Thailand again, although I would not revisit during peak tourist season as there are not enough sites available to accomodate the current armada of dive boats and gaggles of bubbling, reef-whacking newbies.

Thanks for your comments.

J.

#6 vkalia

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 08:39 AM

Judy, really enjoyed the trip report - and loved your photos. I really like what you've done with colors and image design with the images - "design" being the operative word. My only regret is that my slow internet connection doesnt allow me to view all the images (quite a few are not loading), but I will be bookmarking the article to revisit once I am on a faster connection again.

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#7 antacid

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 09:42 AM

wow, that's an incredibly detailed trip report! great job, and thanks for sharing it with us.

one thing i noticed: prices seemed to be higher for you guys (Canadians/Americans/Europeans) than what I'm getting when I book from Singapore.

I've been going for liveaboards in phuket for a few years now, and they usually cost about US$7-800 for a 5D4N trip, excluding park fees.

do they practise price discrimination or something? or is it because you guys just simply choose the more expensive ones... :)
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#8 Peng62

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 12:35 PM

Judy,

Read your report from the first word to the last. Thanks for sharing. It reminded me of my trip to Phuket at the beginning of the year where I got my Open Water cert (just the diving bit :) ). I enjoyed your photos too. Considering that you seemed to have not much time for indulging in taking photos, you got quite a number of really great ones.

I noticed you had labelled some of the scorpionfish as unidentified. I think those are tassled scorpionfish, scorpaenopsis oxycephalus. Google that and you can find plenty of images of it. Saw them too recently in Tulamben, Bali. At least, they look quite like your photos. Hope I am not wrong about the id.

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