For miles out, our approach was under the watchful eyes of the familiar Big Buddha on top of the hill overlooking the bay. We had visited it on a previous visit to Phuket. We joined a motley multitude fleet at anchor in the big Chalong Harbour (N07°49.252' E098°22.210').
Chalong Bay is an official port and the long, 700-metre pier has the offices out at the end to process the entry of foreign boats. It's a bustling part of Phuket. Dozens of day tripping, speedy tourist boats are based here and skim past leaving large wakes, heading off to close islands.
After picking an anchoring spot in the pack in somewhat shallow waters, we dinghied in to get processed. However we arrived just as they were packing up for an early close and we only got half done. It was Friday, and as they seemed nonchalant about having us come back the next day, we wandered into the busy town to check things out.
Chalong Bay in background
We walked down the long concrete pier (visible on the far right extending from shore) which is structurally sound but the floating concrete docks are all coming apart from recent storms and surges. With large rusting bolts, some are now tied together with thick rope and are grinding away against each other. All day and night, you can hear the creaks and groans in their death throes. This is very unusual as we were told that that the facilities are only about 3 years old!
Phuket's main public pier
Docks haphazardly tied together with ropes