November 16, 2008
After 2 weeks of staying in Bangkok to study for Finance, I took a well deserved (in my mind?) vacation down to the islands in southern Thailand. I was planning on leaving right after my Finance midterm Tuesday evening so I would make the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan on Wednesday night. Too bad the last bus left as I was taking my exam. Damn! Not only did I miss the Full Moon Party, but I also missed Loi Krathong, an annual festival held in Thailand to worship the goddess of water, as I was on an overnight bus to Krabi. Finance is ruining my life (I have a feeling I will be saying that for the rest of my career, oh god)!
My friend Abby and I make it to Krabi at 6am (as I sleep through a cop getting on the bus and forcing 4 Thai men off… as long as they weren’t after me) and make a beeline for Ao Nang pier, where we wait until 9am to catch a longtail boat to Railay beach. While we are waiting, we meet a really cool Thai guy, Ping, who is from Railay beach, but travels to Bangkok periodically to dj at local clubs.
After talking to him for a while, he shows us a place to stay while at Railay and then shows us the bar where he works. We hang out with him and his newfound Australian buddy (who paid for Ping’s passage from Bangkok to Railay, as he lost his wallet in BKK) for most of the morning and then head to the beach with the Aussie, to explore the surrounding areas. When we finally find a beach (there’s several different beaches on the island: West Railay, East Railay, and Tan Soi), we immediately leave to explore the surrounding sea caves.
I am in the lead (always a bad idea), and after a few minutes of swimming and climbing over rocks, I run into what appears to be a dead-end. While most sane people would turn around and head back, I was determined to find a way around this formidable rock. I begin climbing over the rock, as I perch my leg on another nearby rock. I continue this odd climb (with each leg on a different rock), until my legs wont go any further and I am still 5 feet above the ground. 5 feet, I can jump, right? Well, not quite, as there were sharp rocks at the bottom and I didn’t quite feel like dealing with a bloody foot, again. As I am contemplating my next move, the Aussie and Abby come around the outer edge and stand right below me. Whattt, there was another way around?!?
The kind Australian holds out his arms and I jump into them…saved by the Aussie! After safely getting around the rocks, we are back in the ocean, right around the corner from where we started. As we start to swim back, I feel a stinging sensation in my neck. Then, under my arm. Then, on my legs….what is going on?! I think I’m imagining it, but Simon (the Aussie) shouts out “Are you guys feeling stings?”, and then I remember….the jellyfish-like fish. SO annoying, they are these tiny fish that serve the sole purpose of annoying human beings who are trying to relax on the beach (or something like that).
After we make it back to the beach, I pass out for a couple hours until we decide to go grab lunch. Indian food, my favorite! While eating, Simon runs into this girl he met in Laos (what a small world), and we all relax and watch a movie together. Towards the end of the movie, I leave to take a shower, and when I’m done, the movie is over and everyone has dispersed. Hmm, what to do next? Ohh, I know, have a banana shake and visit all the mini-marts! Visiting mini-marts is an odd thing I like to do while I’m on my little weekend trips. I really enjoy going to all the different mini-marts and buying something new (like candy) at each. It is what it is. As for banana shakes, those are just delicious! Thursday night, I have banana shake # 1. Eat dinner, watch the first 15 minutes of Eternal Sunshine of the Spot, and promptly pass out by 10pm.
I wake up bright and early the next day, have breakfast (banana shake # 2) and get ready to explore the island. First stop, a mini-mart. This stop was definitely necessary, as I needed water for the day. Next thing we do is head to the island’s scenic lookout. To get to the viewpoint, you have to climb hand over foot for 200 meters up a slippery hill. While at the bottom, we realize it is impossible to climb up the hill with our heavy backpacks. Does that stop us? Of course not. The natural solution is to hide our backpacks in a nearby cave. Once we do that, we go back to the hill and hear some other backpackers remarking about how they want to climb the hill, but don’t want to risk breaking their leg, since they don’t have proper climbing shoes on. Abby and I have flip-flops on. Does that stop us? Of course not. We take off our shoes, and begin the hike. 20 sweaty minutes later, we’re at the top of the hill, looking down at the beautiful view of Railay beach. Naturally, we then have a photoshoot. For 35 minutes. The only thing that stops us is the fear that someone may steal our backpacks from the cave below (ya, right, we hid them so cleverly!).
We carefully ease down the hill, grab our dirty and now cobwebby backpacks, and head to West Railay beach, much less crowded than the beach from the day before. As soon as we get to the beach, we set our stuff down and head into the water. Once we start swimming, Abby decides to swim through a sea cave and see where it ends up. I wasn’t about to follow her, as I remembered what happened the day before and had no desire to get trapped again (the Aussie wasn’t there to save me this time).
Shortly after I make my decision not to follow Abby in the cave, she gives a yelp of pain from cutting her foot on the rock and that is all the persuasion I need to change my mind and follow her in (note the sarcasm). Nonetheless, I do go into the cave, scrape my hand up a bit, get stung by more of those jellyfish-like fish, and swim to what we think is Tan Soi beach. Once we arrive at the new beach, I begin to follow some people who are shimmying their way through 2 big rocks, into what looks like a way through the mountain, back to West Railay beach. As I am dripping wet and climbing the rocks, Abby decides this plan is too stupid and leaves to swim back, under the condition that if I’m not out in 20 minutes, she will come back to search for my body. After I shimmy through the rocks, I come to a semi-clearing and a path that leads up and around the trees. I follow the path for 10 minutes, with some hand over feet climbing action, and end up on West Railay beach, 20 feet away from where we set our backpacks. Success! I spent the next hour awkwardly watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on Abby’s i-pod, while trying to keep the sun out of my vision path. After I get halfway through the movie, Abby and I leave to grab lunch (and banana shake # 3).
After lunch, we stumble across Diamond Cave and head in to explore the 3rd cave of the trip. While in there, I discover that my camera has a night mode, sweet! What a genius idea ☺
After the cave, Abby and I head to the beach and catch a long-tail boat back to the mainland, to meet up with our friend, Mj. Once we find a guesthouse in Krabi town, Abby and I head to dinner (banana shake # 4), and I finally finish Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as we wait for Mj to arrive from the Full Moon Party on the east side of southern Thailand.
Mj arrives, we hear her ridiculous party stories, and head to second dinner (banana shake #5….um, just kidding). Mj eats an entire pizza at midnight and I offer her 200 baht to eat another pizza. She accepts….whaaatt? Damn girl! Head to bed at 1am (way past my bedtime), and I sleep in until almost 9 am. I wake the other 2 girls, who tell me if I ever wake them up at 9am again, they will murder me. Yikes. Someone’s not a morning bird.
Once I finally get the troops moving, we head to a travel shop, book a kayaking tour for the next day, and have breakfast (banana shake #5) at this great little restaurant we find. After breakfast, we head to a mangrove forest along the river, relax there for a bit as Mj and Abby discuss politics (I listen to my i-pod and daydream), and then we depart for banana shake # 6 (banana shake # 0 for the other two girls).
After my banana shake, I leave the girls to head to the beach for some final sunbathing while they have a nice, long massage. I catch a song taew (truck taxi) to Ao Nang, where the beach is. I fall asleep on the beach for less than an hour and when I wake up I can’t find the water! Low tide came, and I literally had to walk straight into the ocean for 10 minutes before I actually hit water.
After washing off, I walk around town for a bit, grab dinner, contemplate another banana shake (but opt for an ice cream cone instead), and then head back to Krabi town to meet up with the girls. When I arrive back at the guesthouse, I ask them how their massages were. They sheepishly told me they skipped the massages for a 400 baht Italian feast instead. Haha, I knew it! Sounded delish though. I shower and then we go to the night market to get fruit and a second dinner. Afterwards, we head to bed, since we have an early day of kayaking ahead of us.
The next day, we get picked up at 8am to begin our kayaking-through-sea-caves-adventure. After about 1 hour of driving to reach the launch point, we get in the kayaks and spend the next couple hours exploring limestone caves and splashing each other with really salty lagoon water.
After a rough morning of kayaking, we sit down for a 5 course family style meal. Cashew nut chicken, sweet and sour fish, tom yum soup, shrimp tempura, and grilled vegetables, followed by fresh pineapple and watermelon, yum! Stuffed to contentment, we then head to a natural springs for an afternoon of swimming and swinging off ropes into the chilly water.
We are then served tea and biscuits (are we in Britain??) as we dry off in the sun. Wow, what 30 USD will get you in Thailand! After we dry off and change, our tour guide brings us directly to the bus station so we can catch a bus back to Bangkok. The next 12 hours are spent desperately trying to get comfortable and sleep in a hopelessly uncomfortable situation. We arrive back in Bangkok at 4am and I check my email after not checking for 5 days (yikes!), and finish just in time to head to my 9am class. Joy.
This will be my last blog for a while as the next few weeks will unfortunately be spent in Bangkok, making up for 3 months of not studying anything but finance. Yikes, finals here I come!
ps. A note from today: I went for a jog around the campus soccer field and left my bag on a bench an older gentleman was sitting on. After a few minutes of running, the man tries to say something to me in Thai. Naturally, I don’t understand him, so I just nod, smile and keep running. After another lap, he makes the same gesture to me and I still don’t understand. After the next lap, I notice he is all packed up, as if he is going to leave. Yet he hasn’t left. After a few minutes, it dawns on me that he is ready to go somewhere, yet he is watching my bag for me until I am done running! I tell him it is okay, that I am keeping an eye on my bag as I run, and he says okay and leaves. Unbelievable! SO sweet 🙂