We settled into our little earthy bungalow at Noppharratara easily with our now altered plans and giants new habit of humming the call to prayer falling into the mellow groove of Noppharratara and Ao Nang. Our days were spent waiting for the weather to be nice enough to let us go out for a dive which didnt look likely for the first few days so we decided to be tourists and check out some of the places I used to go to all those years ago. Getting out to the hotsprings and the emerald pool 27 years ago was a full day and night trip with lots of alcohol and a jeep songtaew, this time we booked a private taxi with the ultra cool Chan as our driver and visiting both took half a day. Both places are worth going to - the water at Emerald pool is possibly the most amazing water on this planet and the hot springs leave your skin feeling like silk. Theres no wifi here but the lady selling Pad Thai and Roti and watermelon shakes for 100baht for two people even threw in a bunch of bananas for Giant after cheekily asking if she could
feel his muscles. Always one to oblige he was flexing in seconds and beaming like a rockstar until she told him PAPA very strong man. I lost it laughing again because he hates being called Papa which seems to be the prefered way to address large bald headed tattood men in their 50s in asian nations. Since we met he has been called Papa in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Timor. Still chuckling we bid the lovely lady with the amazing pad thai farewell and started up the walking track to the emerald pools. As we left she hugged me and said "Mumma". I was mortified, giant was in stitches laughing. Karma. As we walked Giant remarked how thai metres seemed different to Aussie metres because while the signs said we had walked 200m it seemed like 250m..give or take. Eventually we got to the pools and just like they were 27 years ago I sat there and beamed at how impossibly transparent emerald the water was. Camera at the ready I took a few snaps and Chan grabbed the camera and got us to have a cuddle and a kiss where the water runs into the pool to
take a romantic snap. Why not I thought, after all, we were acting our ages and being tourists visiting local attractions.
We swam around in the pool and marvelled at how clear the water was when giant asked if I could float.
I tried it......and couldnt.
He tried it......and couldnt.
What the hell is going on here? Do you lose the ability to float as you get older? Or were we just eating too much?
After leaving Emerald Pool we drove to the hotsprings and had a blissful if hot bath - at 42 degrees a short bath was long enough. We hung out in the jungle for a while listening to Clapton and Hendrix thanks to Chans stereo and returned home happily armed with lots of holiday snaps.
Down town for dinner, grabbing a dvd to watch and back to our bungalow for the night after a dip in the pool.
Giant tried floating again......and couldnt. I tried floating.....and couldnt.
The next day we just hung at Noppharratara walking out to the islands off the beach at low tied, enjoying the sunset with thai families and the crazy dudes flying around in what looked like giant fans attached to
I waited 27 years to see..this??
parachutes. We found a secluded little beach and went for a swim..but no, we still couldnt float.
Sitting on the beach watching the full moon hitting the water Giant asked if there was anything else that I could remember from my time here. The shell fossil beach. One of only three in the world. 75 million years ago a climactic event had caused the death of trillions of snails living in a brackish pocket of fresh water. 27 years ago I had tried to go and see the famous fossils - at SuSann Hoi beach if anyone cares to go there, and found it impossible.
Because it was 3am, pitch black, and I was very drunk with a bunch of other very drunk hippies.
The next day we hopped on the scooter and went to check out the fossils..except I had forgotten to check the tide and it was high tide so they were under water....damn...would I ever see them?.
The sea had finally settled after the storm so we booked a dive on the local islands to get Giant his OW certification and headed out in a longtail only to get half way to Koh See and find the
sea wasnt ready to co operate yet. Ive learnt when dive guides say they have a bad feeling, theres always another day. When the boatman says he has a bad feeling, its definitely time to go another day.
The next day we got some diving in - I actually love diving out of longails, canoes, dugouts, anything that requires stupid amounts of physical exertion to gear up and get back in the boat. The viz was poor but hey, we got wet. Giant learnt its probably not a good idea to play with sea snakes and come up with 5 bar of air left but overall a nice dive for low season thailand local diving. Ive had worse dives.
The next fews days the ocean refused to play nice so we spent our time wandering around, eating, trying to float and giant seemed to keep disappearing into a particular tattooists so I knew he had plans to get inked.
The day before the inking we finally made it out to shell fossil beach. I had waited 27 years to see these fossils and after three attempts I was determined to see them. We wizzed down there on the bali harley
right on low tide and I actually ran down to the beach to see....concrete slabs. Well thats what they looked like. Sometimes, things arent always as you pictured them. I guess on the upside, I wont bother to trek to the US to see the other two examples of this 75 million year in the making event.
We spent the rest of our time eating, sleeping, watching dvds, walking and having massages. Giant discovered the delights of soi food of Ao Nang, from corn cobs to roti and fried chicken and prawn tempura - all from 20bht to 80bht. We spent a day back at Railay and went over to Tonsai to see the sunset again and watched a young guy walking around in circles skyping to someone somewhere in the world. I know sharing your holiday experience live with someone is a really cool thing to do, but when you are not the other person seeing it through a webcam, you kind of look like a bit of a tool wandering around in circles talking to a piece of black plastic.
Before we left Tonsai we decided to go for a swim and discovered suddenly that we could float
again. I yelled to Giant that I could float and he yelled back...."Be careful, the tides coming in, if you get beached we will have to get a longtail to pull you off and thats gonna cost a fortune''.....very funny indeed. I realised all this eating had added a few pounds but I hardly think Greenpeace wouldve needed to be notified. I stood up to see Giant floating away happily humming the call to prayer and a very confused looking Swiss girl trying not to make eye contact with the wierd old people.
That was only time we did manage to float. Im glad to know I still can, sometimes.
Our time at Ao Nang was spent lazily, diving every now and then over at Phi Phi seeing turtles and sharks and barracudas schooling along with morays and all the usual suspects. I managed to mishear the dive breifing about swim throughs and saw a tiny gap and thought that was the swim through that was on the map, so I swam through..well more like...scraped through. The marine life in there was quite amazing, massive schools of anthias, juvenile sweetlips and walls covered with anenomes, featherstars and shrimp. I wish
I hadve had a torch and a few more inches room. Back on the boat everyone marvelled that someone had actually fitted in there and come out the other side. My very own swim through!
So thats how we spent our time in Krabi..being tourists, eating and diving and relaxing. In 27 years there has been development and change but one thing has not, the heart of the people. There are still places where the thais go for their relaxation and no one speaks english. Tinglish has snuck in and people are learning a smile can mean money, but the essence of Ao Nang all those years ago is still there. Happiness. This is a happy place.
We were obviously sad to go and left with a promise to return - and not 27 years later this time. Giant would be 80. I wouldnt be far behind. Im not sure how I would go at that age climbing in and out of longtails. Oh - and those visits to the tattooist? Giant bought home a souvenier of Ao Nang that he will always have...the worlds most painful head tattoo.
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