Published: July 31st 2012July 30th 2012
View across Ao Nang
From G&L Hotel balcony on first night - see the weather coming
Back in Thailand, the land of spicy food, beautiful beaches, girly girls, girly boys, old purvey men, hard beds, elephants, massaRRRRGes, and SWENSONS….we love it. But be warned - never trust a fart in Thailand! KRABI
We arrived into Krabi airport and feeling very pleased with ourselves speeding through airport formalities in a record time of 4 minutes, we are confronted by Thai girls sitting in caged booths, with their hands poking through the metal grills waving furiously at us and yelling out in the hope we will select their transport options. Anyone would think it was a matter of life or death! We bypass the taxi at NZ$25 and race for the shuttle at half the price (300 baht) NZ$12. The shuttle, in the form of an old cranky bus, waited until every possible passenger was out of the terminal to ensure there was no chance of any potential fare being missed. I am sure they went and checked the toilets were clear before leaving!! So after waiting 40 minutes for the shuttle (bus) to leave our smugness for managing an efficient exit from the airport had vanished. Being a shuttle it dropped everyone off at their Hotel
and, yes, we were last, so 2 hours later we arrived at our hotel in Ao Nang beach in Krabi. Grant and Letitia arrived the next night chauffeured in a private air conditioned SUV in 25 minutes for NZ$25.
We were in awe of the landscape, large mountainous limestone rocks protruding up through the land and the ocean. Long golden sandy beach backed by a small Thai tourist town. The main area we stayed had a road along the water front lined with a paved walkway and one road off this up a slight hill. Both were lined with the usual - accommodation, restaurants, bars and shops. It was a friendly small area and it did not take long for the callout boys to recognise us (Call out boys
: boys who have the job of obstructing the pavement as you walk past trying to coax you into their shop or restaurant).
Well as soon as Grant and Letitia arrived into Krabi it started to rain, and it rained, and rained and rained. It is the rainy season not the monsoon for gods sake! In July we could expect a month’s lull of good weather in between rainy
months of June and August – but no, not to be. Unfortunately no matter how many forecasts we searched on the net, and how many times we analysed and re-looked, it did not make any difference – it was going to rain all week.
Out for dinner that night walking down the road past the street vendors selling their chicken and whole fish on a stick, a cockroach flies off the footpath and into my chest! I mean, there are unwritten rules between cockroaches and humans; cockroaches must not be seen or heard at all times, and can come out at night occasionally in search of food but are restricted to the floor only and must never approach humans. How dare he lunge for my chest!
So what’s next? Phi Phi is 2 hours by boat and blogs reporting currently it’s a rough ride, weather reports are bad, and Letitia cannot do boats, plus it’s expensive with few good hotel reviews and the 2 sisters just died there of unexplained poisoning. So, no, not Phi Phi. So we decide to go to Railay, there’s a few beaches and you can only get there by boat so it’s like
an island. Plus Carl found us a hotel with great reviews - Great View Hotel, not on a good beach but a short walk to good beaches when the sun comes out – yeh right!
So Letitia popped a sea sickness pill and we clambered onto a wooden long tailed boat and headed for Railay, a 20 minute boat ride in 1.5 meter swells – it was fun and Letitia is high on the drugs! We disembark into knee high, brown, high tide sea water, only just with dry suitcases and packs, onto the lawn of a 5 class resort. Security guards on alert, radios are crackling, backpacks sighted, we were quickly shown the way off the Rayavadee premises. So 2 backpackers and, 2 tourists pulling suitcases on wheels, follow the signs from West Beach to East Beach and along a pathway to our Hotel – yes, of course, the last one. So the 10 minute walk turns into a 20 minute walk with Carl leading the way with 3 disgruntled followers muttering/thinking “I am sure he has no idea where he is going, and yuk I don’t like the look of this place”.
The tide is high, the
pathway acts as a sea wall, the murky water (from the weather) is filled with mangroves, the odd floating rubbish and sunken boats. We pass a group of restaurants, bars and shops – umm this hotel restaurant better be good, IF we ever get there
. I am sure the wet weather makes it look worse but the area seemed dirty, damp and messy.
Finally we arrive and thank god - the resort is great. Lovely big pool with great sea views, really nice modern clean bungalows scattered around the hill which sits at the bottom of a high rock cliff. We get escorted up one path and Grant and Letitia the other, separate but with same thoughts as we climb up the steep paths to our bungalows. Puff…Christ how far up is it...Puff…hey be nice to the old people...puff…Hey you, how about this bungalow right here...puff...I cannot take another step...PUFF…honestly are you listening to me.....PUFF... my legs cannot go any further…one step...PUFFFF... you can do it…another step, PUUUFF…I...puff...cannot...puff...
And yes, of course, pick the highest bungalows for your oldest guests! But, the room was great, new, clean, modern, and had all the conveniences with a big deck
to sit and laze and read with some sea views through the trees. Grant & Letitia even saw a group of monkeys on the trees in front of their bungalow. But leaving your bungalow was a decision not made lightly, cos if you went down, you always had to walk back up that hill and it never really got any easier. I would always be on the hunt for a shorter way back, cutting through pathways, but would still always arrive breathless, flop on the bed, heart thumping loudly and have to jump in a cold shower to wash off the sweat - it was hell.
The restaurant food was fantastic, just as well, as we ate there for every meal – it was delicious. We tried all the curries and when the stomachs demanded tested their western cooking skills. Grant was on a quest to eat as many green curries as he could whilst in Thailand. We got on friendly terms with our waiter WUT who would always ensure we could get a beer with our meal (Muslim Hotel), even sending his friend out one night to buy us some from 711. So the bottle of duty free
vodka came in handy for pre-dinner in-room cocktails. Although Carl is getting a bit sick of beer everyday, he cannot bypass the fact that you are assured of getting alcohol with a beer and it’s cheap! A large Chang beer is $2. We celebrate the news that Grant and Letitia are expecting a grandson with a bottle of duty free champagne – delicious!
So we settle in and read, eat, swim when we can, and with our one day of no rain we go on an adventure around the beaches. We walked through a cavern within the mountain cliff rocks, under the bats, over bat pooh, and through the inside. It was called Diamond Cave. We headed further up the rock mountain in search of rock climbers, but all we found was a resort restaurant which sold disgusting coffee and a toilet bowl likening to an underwater quarry.
We walked around to West Railay, nice at low tide when it becomes a beach and not a seawall, past the locals playing beach soccer and had a beer at a local café, sizing up the deli opposite with cheeses sitting in 35 degree sun.
The next day we
headed over the opposite end of East Railay beach and spotted a group of rock climbers scaling the cliff. We walked through Monkey Walk and watched as a woman walking along just opening the top of her backpack when a monkey jumped up and put his hand into her backpack and grabbed a banana and raced up a tree. A few minutes later the banana skin splats on the ground in front of her feet. We continue around to Phranang Beach and it is beautiful (without our swimming gear we promise ourselves we will come back tomorrow). This beach is a fantastic sight, was not coloured by the bad weather and had amazing cliff rock hangings, with the ocean dotted with mountainous cliffs. The one resort that dominated the entire beach area was Rayavadee Resort, with prices starting at $800 at low season. We never got back for that swim.
So after 3 days, and when the beach front resort deals we pick for the next 2 days book out we decide to go back to Ao Nang. We find that our hotel provides free boat rides to a closer part of Ao Nang and after a 10 minute
$2 open truck ride through the local area we are back in Ao Nang….umm that was easier and cheaper than getting there, but who can beat the experience of a rough ride in a small unsafe boat!
We spend another 3 nights in Ao Nang at this lovely resort, Grant and Letitia with direct pool access off their deck, we sunbathe, swim, eat, drink and play cards. Grant decides it time to add Kahlua to the vodka and give those straight black Russians another go. Ice…where do we get ice? After much deliberation, 2 visits to 711, some ingenious ideas and a failed attempt at homemade ice, we realise – we are in a hotel, why did we never think of room service! Ring ring...
So we wait in anticipation of what is going to turn up – yes, it’s a 5 litre bucket of ice! Who would have thought, delivered to our room for $1!
Honestly I don’t know how many times we heard massAAAARRRRG chorused by 10 girls sitting outside every single massage parlour. How
Spot the rock climber
enlarge photo and you will him
do they make any money. We did not think they had a sex industry in Krabi, but where there are tourists in Thailands there are girly bars with sex for sale. We strolled down a side alley and found the bars with the sexy girls and boys We said a quick hello's and then left - being the only customers, we would not cope with being so much in demand!
It’s time to say goodbye to Grant and Letitia and work out where the hell the sun is so we can follow it. We would like to come back to Ao Nang sometime but in the sunny season as there were many islands and snorkelling trips that would be great to do. It would be interesting to see how East Railay cleaned up in the dry season. We found the food and booze cheap, NZ$4 for cocktail, NZ$3 for large beer, NZ$6-8 for main course either Thai, western or cooked breakfast. Railay:
It is on a peninsula, one side is West Railay Beach, at high tide the water laps at the seawall and edge of a resort which pretty much dominates this beach. Low tide unravels a very
nice golden sand beach with a couple of small paths that lead you past a few shops, hotel complex and bars to East Railay. East beach laps around the mangroves and seawall at high tide and is not a nice beach at low tide. The seawall is a path which is lined with hotels and restaurants, bars and shops. At the end of the peninsula is Phranang Beach which is beautiful. There are also another couple of beaches but we did not visit as you needed boat to get there. Accommodation:
We are travelling in the low season so our hotel deals are sometimes a third of the high season.
Haleeva Sunshine, Ao Nang Beach - Fantastic deal we paid only NZ$26 for this clean comfortable room. It was near the end of the tourist area up the road, but only 10 minute walk to the beach and 4 to McDonalds for a cone dip ice cream. Only issue for me was they had a green tiled small swimming pool. Green coloured water in a swimming pool – really? Hence we did not swim, but would definitely recommend this guest house to budget traveller. http://www.haleeva.com/
Nang Orchid Resort, Ao Nang Beach – G&L had the pool access room which had a large deck overlooking the pool with steps down into the water of a beautiful large pool, room not huge but had large LCD and spa bath. Room approx. NZ$130. We took a deluxe room for NZ$65 which was in the back block, very large room and very new and clean. http://www.aonangorchid-resort.com/
Railay Great View Resort, East Railay Beach – Fantastic place, although do request bungalow at bottom of hill unless you are a mountain goat. Large infinity swimming pool overlooking ocean, excellent restaurant, nice décor in rooms. Standard bungalow was NZ$40 and NZ$75 for Grand Deluxe. http://www.railaygreatview.com/
Time for a change so we head to Phuket and take the minibus deal for NZ$12 each. The mini bus process from Krabi to Phuket:
everyone arrives at an open aired platform from all directions by mini bus and then after what appeared a very disorganised hour, mini buses are loaded with people by destination. We sat and waited 2 hours before we departed, then one hour down the road, the driver stops for 30 minutes for lunch. Then another hour he stops at
a travel agent to get details of where we are all being dropped off. This takes about an hour before everyone has accommodation sorted and then 30 minutes later we are in Phuket – thank god we are the third ones dropped off this time. This entire process took 6 hours to travel 2 ½.
There are more photos below