November 6, 2011
I started the day with a delicious coffee and fruit breakfast (the Thais thanks to the French) have perfected the art of coffee. From sweet Thai ice coffees and teas to the perfect cappuccino coffee is everywhere here. I caught a long tail from the pier at Krabi to the peninsula of Railey. Long tails are the local water taxies. The planked wooden short keeled boats rock back and forth with every weight change or boat wake. They are named for their odd outboard engine configuration. A dry exhaust outboard with out a housing is attached to a 6-10 foot shaft with a propellor at the end. The shaft shoots aft and the propellor is only a few inches under water. This allows the driver to menuver in shallow water and to make sharp turned by pulling the shaft out of the water and placing it left or right to move the bow. The 40 minuet ride along the mangroves was beautiful, but constantly disrupted by floating trash and the traces of humans. We arrived at the beach at low tide so I had to wade in shin deep water with my backpack strapped to my back. I am thankful again for choosing such a small bag.
I chose a basic bungalow set on a hillside surrounded by high limestone cliffs. The rooms were nicer at the guesthouse next door, but the character and front porch of the bamboo thatched huts is better. You can hear monkeys in the background and as cocktail hour begins the staff are lighting campfires and playing dub reggae. Thankfully it is still shoulder season and there isn't much of a draw tonight.
After waking up at 3 last night I decided to tire myself out to beat the jet lag. I spent two hours kayaking around cliffs and escaping the hordes of beach goers in a water logged double kayak. 10 dollars well spent for the views, solitude, and promise of sleep. Some pictures of the cliffs and my bungalow for you....
Riley is too crowded and too tourist centric for me. There are plenty of young people ready to party, but the result is a slightly dirty and disheveled bit of paradise. So many sunburt white bodies everywhere. Unless it charms me this evening I think I'll spend one more night here and head back to Karabi to book a boat to a much less developed island. I'm planning a sunrise hike to Pra Nang cove to beat the hordes.
Railay Beach East, Thailand
November 7, 2011
I woke up to roasters crowing around 5:30. After falling asleep quickly and early after dinner my body was wide awake and ready to explore before most of the beach awoke from their holiday commas. I walked to Pra Nang cove where I kayaked yesterday. I shared the beach with one other tourist and a man hauling away yesterdays loads of plastic water bottles. In the quiet of early morning before the first long tail engines broke the silence this spit of calm gave herself to me. The towering and intricate limestone cliffs shoot out of the sea towards the sky. The water is clear and becalmed at day break like so many bodies of water I have witnessed before. I took a nice swim along the rock cliffs which reveal lots of caves and coves to explore. In the distance islands with similar jetting rock cliffs appear as ghosts on the horizon. There is reason to worry about the sustainability of this place and it's easy to fantasize about what it was like before eroding concrete pathways, speed boats, and the high end resort which attempts to dominate the beach. A story told over and over again of warm places along the sea. People, plastic, development make me feel a great sense of loss. In a few short days in Thailand I'm beginning to consider what kind of traveler I am and how that will alter my path during these next days. I will keep reminding myself of my bias and to stop judging. Even in simple holiday beach paradise I am thinking constantly. The good news is two nights in a thatched aluminum roofed bungalow and my pace and priorities are slowing down to an appropriate chill.
This afternoon I hiked to Ton Si, the much more laid back backpacker rock climbing side of the island. The hike was short and steep. There were monkeys in the tres and bobby trapped communication
wires across the trail. Ton Si is thick with bungalows, low laying lounges, and hippie beach side bars. I had a late lunch of shrimp curry and a tall beer beach side and people watchers. Rock climbers lead climb on the beach, blinding hippie toddlers play in the sand and a old man with a guitar plays to the see. Long tail engines give the place a rhythm and young people create a slow pace of life. But still I'm choosing not to linger here. Tomorrow I'm going to take another early morning swim and catch a long tail back to Karabi for a day to regroup and book a boat to Ko Jam. Ko jam is a quiet and underdeveloped fishing island with a handful of bungalows. I think for now I want to disappear ago write, hike, swim and enjoy some solitude.