Published: February 21st 2009February 16th 2009
We left Langkawi on the organised transport we had booked to take us over the Thai border to Satun the nearest entry point to Thailand for us. While we were in Langkawi we learnt about the new regulations concerning the Thai visa which messed up our plans a little.. because we were doing a land border crossing you can now only get a 15 day visa instead of the previous 30 days. This meant that we would only be able to do a fraction of what we had planned so we set our sights on the Krabi area and decided to spend our 15 days soaking up the sun on the many beaches in this province.
The border crossing went fine, the ferry trip there was very painless with The Mummy video to keep us amused for the 90 minute crossing. At the port in Satun we jumped on our minibus transfer which took us the remaining 5 hours to Krabi Town, again very painless and comfortable.. we like Thailand already!!
We had no plans on what to do in Krabi so decided to stay in the town itself for one night rather than make our way to a
Sophie in the coral reef
after the sea had gone out
beach resort where accommodation would no doubt be more difficult to find at such a late hour. After a few 'sorry we're full' responses we found a really good hotel with a great room for just 300B, we'd arranged to meet up with Zoe who we'd met on the bus for dinner & drinks so after a quick shower & change we met here in the hotel bar where our evening that would be permanently branded on us for life was to start....
We'd heard about the night market just next to the river so made our way there for a yummy cheap as chips dinner.. we picked a selection of things from the hawker stall and ate to our hearts content.. even Dale was stuffed after a mix up gave us 5 plates of food instead of the required 3 but we ate it anyway as it was so yummy and washed down with cold bottles of Singa we had loads of fun trying to learn a few phrases of Thai from the ladies while we were there.
Onwards we ventured to check out Krabi's nightlife. Krabi Town is a little strange as there is nothing there
to do except jump off to the various beach resorts but there seemed to be loads of people there and we just don't know why?! Maybe they were all like us just killing time before the beaches. After wandering round for a bit we found a great little deserted bar playing live music so we went in there and ordered a round.. then another.. and another.. it was at this point when we were all feeling a little drunk that we spotted the tattooists area just behind us and decided to see what was on offer... After another few drinks we all thought it would be fun to get tattoos as well as more drinks.. yeah what a great idea that was!!! So branded for life we all were with Zoe opting for a swirl on her foot, Sophie going for a star 'she'd always wanted' on the back of her neck and Dale getting a pentagon star on his wrist...
Needless to say we all woke up the next day with scenes straight out a movie with Sophie not really recalling the whole thing and really hoping it was all a terrible dream and Dale was left looking
at the slightly squiffy star on his wrist. Yes everyone does it but the Thai people are really onto a good thing with this whole tattoo near bar thing as we've noticed it everywhere we've been since then too! Maybe the UK should think about changing their rules as they'd make a killing!
After a wasted recovery day in Krabi Town we made our way to Ao Nang the nearest beach resort and an easy cheap 50B songthaew ride away. Ao Nang is the busiest and most built up of the 3 local beach resorts to Krabi Town and although nice it's not the nicest beach of the bunch and is full to the brim of Western tourists. Despite this though we had a nice day relaxing on the main beach and venturing over to the next bay which if the home to a private beach resort and much nicer than the packed out main beach in Ao Nang itself. Another day was spent visiting Poda Island, about 25 minutes by Longtail from Ao Nang. We'd been eyeing it up from the first day and went down the following morning to book our tickets there... off we set on
our first Longtail boat trip which was quite fun after we'd managed to clamber in, a mission in itself!
Poda Island is just gorgeous and the is the place most people only dream about and was exactly what we'd dreamed of finding on our trip here. Although it is packed out with day trippers it doesn't take any of the beauty away with it's pure white sand and really crystal clear swimming pool sea.. we fell in love with it straight away. Obviously there isn't a whole lot to do here so we did our usual of laying on the beach all day soaking up the rays. We did do a bit of exercise though and walked round the island to the other side which was even better than the jumping off point facing the land. What never fails to amaze us in these islands is how far the sea goes out at low tide... here on Poda as the sea retreated for about 100m it uncovered all the rocky coral reef that had been submerged for the whole day and we explored the pools that were left to see what we could find.. crabs & fish mostly!
After our fantastic day on Poda we decided to venture out of Ao Nang to another beach resort just round the corner the following day.. Railay Beach. We caught the Longtail round to it and set off to find somewhere to stay. Railay consists of 2 beaches.. East & West, the West has the beach and is just for the rich people so backpackers are advise by LP to head to the East where apparently accommodation can be found for the very reasonable sum of 390B so off we went. We found the place they recommended ok but were fuming when they said that their cheapest room was 700B and well above our budget. The trouble was that Railay isn't very big so there were not really many other choices so off we went down the back alleys (not streets as there are no cars!) in search of something else. On we ventured with our heavy backpacks past the rock climbers that flood here and towards the jungle, please remember that it was very very hot too so we were none too amused about having to walk so far because LP is so rubbish. In the end it got too
much so Sophie stopped with the bags while Dale ventured off into the jungle in search of something more affordable...
About 1 hour later he returned with a big smile.. he'd walked through the jungle to the next beach of Ton Sai and bagged us a bamboo hut for 250B per night! Yey! Sophie was so happy that we were no longer homeless and facing the prospect of going back to Ao Nang so off we set to our new home. First though came the jungle trek which was a good path but very steep in some places and it was touch and go for a few minutes whether Sophie would make it with her heavy bag and flip flops that were about to flop right off her feet they were so sweaty. We did it though and our bamboo hut was really fab although quite basic but did feature a nice breize block shower & toilet complete with the traditional bucket to wash it all down with!
We ended up staying in Ton Sai for 4 days.. enjoying the beach! The best bit is that you can walk over to Railay beach and Phra Nang Beach from
Ton Sai so we got to enjoy 3 beaches for our knock down hut price! Out of the 3 beaches Phra Nang has to be the tops though.. it really is beautiful with a huge cave as you enter the beach which sweeps round and has a huge limestone rock in front of it. Of course it comes complete with the package holidaymakers but you come to accept that in time. We spent days on end just sitting on the sand, avoiding the jellyfish in the sea, eating banana pancakes & Pad Thai Noodles and beers on the beach... yep we know we are lucky! For anyone reading this who is thinking of visiting this area we would highly recommend Ton Sai as your place to stay as it's cheaper and much more relaxed with a nicer crowd than the neighbouring Ao Nang & Railay...
We only had 6 days left on our 15 day visa by this point and were torn on what to do next.. Bangkok, Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi? Tough choice hey! In the end we settled on Koh Phi Phi, we were going to leave it until next time around but as we
had days to spare and were at a good jumping off point we decided to go there this time around so off we went one morning at first thinking we would make the 1.5hr trip by longtail but being slightly relieved when we were transferred to a big yacht for the journey there.
For those not aware of Koh Phi Phi it is actually 2 islands, Phi Phi Don & Phi Phi Ley found between Krabi & Phuket. In days gone by they were probably islands that were so beautiful people would pay millions to go on them but now Phi Phi Don is a package holiday destination and comes complete with the millions of people to match, meanwhile Phi Phi Ley (famous for the film The Beach) remains unspoilt but only because they harvest birds nests there to go in the very expensive birds nest soups so people are not allowed to stay on there.
We only had 3 nights here so spent our first day on the local beach after thankfully finding some accommodation that didn't cost us the earth.. a very reasonable 600B to be precise. The beach nearest to us really isn't anything to
write home about so we spent one afternoon there then moved into the small windy alley streets to see what was on offer here. As soon as we saw the prices though our purses remained firmly shut because as with most major tourist destinations the prices are to match and were well above our small backpacker budget!
For our second day there we booked into a full day tour round both islands including snorkelling, lunch and beach fun on Maya Beach (where The Beach was filmed). A little dubious of organised tours we didn't really hold out much hope that this would be good but as it's really the only way we could afford to visit what we had come here for we just hoped that it wouldn't be too bad...
Our tour fell on Valentines Day so after getting Sophie a rose so we could photograph it at the various places we set off with about 20 others in our big long tail boat... the first stop was snorkelling at Shark Point and wow
the snorkelling here is amazing.. not quite as colourful as the Barrier Reef but the amount of fish is incredible and we really
enjoyed it every time we stopped to dive in those beautiful waters.. no jellies here too which was a bonus! Dale swears he saw a shark too but there are only black tipped ones round here so Sophie wasn't even put off when he said he had seen one of those.
Out next stop was for lunch and to visit the Maya Beach.. what we'd come on the tour for in the first place. For those who have seen the film this beach is awesome but like most movies the reality isn't quite the same. Not that it's worse, as it really is the sort of place that brings a tear to your eye, it's just laid out differently that's all. Sadly you get the usual hundred million other tourists at these places but we managed to get a few snaps without too many people in the background so you can all appreciate it's beauty.
The rest of the day was filled with more snorkelling with huge shoals of fish, taking in the amazing views of the islands, visiting Monkey Beach which was actually Sophie's favourite of the day, and finally visiting Bamboo Island, another small island just
North of Phi Phi Don for the best snorkelling of the day. This trip really was amazing and we weren't disappointed at all.. in fact it was probably one of the best day trips we've done to date in terms of value for money and pure enjoyment.
On our return to the island we decided to have a few Valentines drinks to celebrate. People who have visited this neck of the woods will know about the infamous buckets.. for those who don't they are basically small buckets which contain a spirit (Sam Song in this case), Red Bull and Coke or similar and they are LETHAL! We sat ourselves in the Ibiza Bar which had fantastic entertainment in the form of fire dancing, fire skipping (where anyone can join in), fire limbo and many other fun games to win more and more drinks.. none of which we won :o( Then the dancing began so up we got to boogie the night away drinking more buckets and then things get a little hazy... lets just say we can't remember much but Sophie managed to wake up with half her body covered in sand, Dale vaguely remembering dragging both of them
home and the room a complete state that we can't even talk about....
Needless to say for us two 30 year olds the following day was yet again a day spent in bed nursing terrible hangovers, looking for our lost phone and forcing ourselves out the room so we could book our boat tickets out of there.. We will not be drinking them for a long long while!!
The following day was sent catching the bus back to Krabi town where we had organised a bus ride to take us to Bangkok. The bus wasn't quite what we had expected when we booked the VIP option.. small seats with no legroom and very bumpy, maybe our expectations are just too high after Argentina but this really was rubbish. The ride went ok and we did manage to get a few hours sleep despite the girls behind us doing their best to stop us. Dale ended us slamming his seat back right into her knees after a while which had Sophie in hysterics and the girl behind tutting and huffing the whole way there.
After arriving in Bangkok at 6am and avoiding the various rip off tuk-tuk drivers
who want you to pay 100B for a 2 second journey because the bus has stopped in the wrong place we found an ok room just round the back of Ko Sahn Road and sent a few days ticking off the various jobs we had to do whilst there as we'd planned to do all our sightseeing on our next time around. Our 15 days was up and we had to make our way to Cambodia and had our fingers firmly crossed that we managed to avoid all the notorious scams at the border crossing on our way...
There are more photos below