Thailand: Bring On the Beach

Today is my one-month-away-from-home-aversary! One month ago today I was standing in Pearson International Airport, getting ready to board a flight to India. It feels like forever ago, and I seriously can’t believe it’s only been a month, but most importantly, I’m elated that I still have another 11 months to go!

The overnight train is a much better experience than last time. I fall asleep at 8pm and sleep straight through until 5am when we arrive. We’re not at our final destination yet though, and are now supposed to take a bus to get to Krabi. We buy a ticket from the “bus station” which is a small folding table set up across the street from the train station. They have a bus sitting ready to board but it can’t fit six of us so we get thrown in a tuk tuk which is apparently supposed to bring us to another bus station just 20 minutes away. I am reluctant because I don’t know what’s stopping them from telling us it’s 20 minutes away, and then just taking us all the way to Krabi in a tuk tuk, which would suck. I get in anyway and decide to chance it. We drive 20 minutes away and turn down a long, sketchy dirt road where there is another “bus station”. This one actually looks more like a bus station and has an official counter where we have to check in and transfer. We are sent over to a waiting area which is just a bunch of tables beside a dock, which may or may not still be in use, but either way is pretty run down. There are lots of other tourists waiting as well.

We sit there until 6:30 when our bus is ready to leave. It’s early in the morning and there are people yelling different things at us and pointing to different busses or vans, directing us where to go. A giant double decker bus comes out of nowhere, drives right up to the huge group of people waiting to get to Krabi, and stops one foot away from a pedestrian. More shouting occurs and we hear “Krabi” somewhere in there, so we give them our bags to stow and climb up to the top deck of the bus.

In the last 24 hours, I have used so many modes of transportation, just to get to one destination. I’ve been on planes, trains, busses, cars, and tuk tuks. If I get on a boat today, which is not impossible considering I’m now in islands territory, I’ll have a pretty solid list. It’s fun to travel many different ways, even though sometimes it might take a little longer.

The bus ride is longer than I expected but it’s comfortable and I am in and out of sleep for most of it. When we arrive at the bus station it’s just a mess of people quoting prices to get here and there, this beach or that beach, shouting “Ko Phi Phi, Ko Phi Phi, Ko Phi Phi !” and pointing at tuk tuks and busses. It’s very confusing. We just want to get to Krabi town and eat something before figuring out where we’re going to stay. We get in a van which takes us downtown Krabi where we stop for breakfast/lunch and plan our next move. We’ve been traveling for 28 hours at this point, so we just want to arrive somewhere and get these backpacks off our backs. We walk down to the waterfront and get a long tail boat across the water to Railay, where the beaches are. Adding a boat to my list!

Currently, I look something like Ross in that episode of Friends, when he gets a spray tan 8 times on his front and never his back. I need to fix this. It’s still only 10:45am when the boat starts across, so there is lots of time to find a place to stay and with time left over to get to a beach. It already feels like 3 or 4pm though, because we’ve been on such a weird schedule.

We arrive at the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. The water is gorgeous and clean, there are tall rocky cliffs surrounding the cove that the longtail boat pulls into. We hop off the boat and go in search of a place to stay. Everything is slightly more expensive in the islands, especially at this time of year so it’s going to take me some time to adjust to paying 6 dollars a night for accommodations instead of 3. It takes us a bit of time to find something that we can afford and that we all like (we’re finding that it’s a bit of a challenge to make 6 girls agree on everything… especially after traveling for like 30 hours) but we do finally find something. I legitimately drop my bag and pull out the first bathing suit I see. We all make our way to the west side of the beach, which is supposed to be even more beautiful than the east side where we are staying. The walk is only about 5 minutes and we walk out to an absolutely gorgeous beach lined with longtail boats, happy swimmers and sun bathers. I go straight to the water because it’s super humid and the water looks incredible, which it is. It’s warm, salty water that I can float in as I gaze out in the distance to where there are many more, much smaller islands on the horizon. We spend most of the day there, I actually fell asleep in the sand, but at least I was lying on my stomach so my back should get a good tan. Around 4:00pm we get up to leave and just as we’re walking off the beach, the rain hits so we walk home in the rain. It stays sunny the whole time, and just rains enough to cool us off a little. I’m pretty sure it’s only rained 2 or three times maximum since I’ve been away, bonus.

We go back to our bungalows and get ready for dinner, then head over to a restaurant/bar just a couple doors down from our hotel. They have everything on their menu, like the kind where it’s overwhelming but I pick a coconut curry in the end. It is situated right beside / I think ON the side of a cliff and we get a table right beside it which is cool too. Most importantly, they have free wi-fi ! It’s been impossible to find wi-fi / outlets to charge our things on our long journey over the last couple days, so it’s nice to be able to catch up with what the rest of the world is doing.

After dinner we go over to the bar section of the restaurant which gets jam packed full of people. At first they have a live acoustic guitar performer who sings classic American songs, but is actually SO amazing, which is nice to see after having heard so many awful Wonderwall covers in the past little while.
When it gets later into the night they switch to a DJ who plays classic old school jams, and eases into modern pop, dance and hip hop songs. Around 11 o’clock the fire show starts, where about 5 people dance to music and spin fiery sticks and numb-chuck type things around while they are flaming. It’s really cool, and goes on for about an hour. We are lucky enough to have sat at a table which is right in the front row, and when they come to look for “volunteers” one of the dancers asks Carrie (the other Canadian girl I’m traveling with) to go up. He does a bunch of cool tricks with the fire, swinging it around her and over her head, and then asks her to blind fold him. She does it, with way more bravery than I think I could have, and he continues to do cool flaming tricks too close to her body, but she survives and we get some awesome pictures. One of the fire performers had his hair catch on fire briefly a little earlier in the night, which he just casually brushed out with his hand and kept going.

We dance beach-side with long tail boats and mangrove trees in the distance for the rest of the night.

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