A Delayed Merry Christmas from the Dongle Family!

Trip Start Jan 14, 2009
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Trip End May 2010


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Where I stayed
Andaman Nature Resort

Flag of Thailand  , Krabi,
Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How would you like to spend your holidays? We chose a familiar destination halfway across the earth from home: on the beaches of Ton Sai and Railay, climbing our little hearts out, making friends and reuniting with others from previous stops on our trip, and tanning and swimming along the gorgeous Phra Nang beach.

Merry Christmas from the Dongle Family!

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The Andaman Sea holds famous legends about two lovers from opposite sides of the tracks who were lost at sea, their belongings washed up to shore on famous beaches and islands. Phra Nang beach is supposed to be the site of fertility, hence all the "donglers." The locals offer carvings of donglers in various sizes and colours to grant them fertility. We couldn't help but pose the Dongle Family amidst a sea of donglers!!

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Ray doing a backflip off the rocks at Phra Nang beach

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Ray enjoying the comforts of his bungalow

Since our last trip here over Thanksgiving of 2007, we had a few unclimbed routes to tackle, so we were fired up to climb.

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Lins on Big Wave, four beautiful pitches of 6b (5.10 c/d) on the Monkey World wall

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A rainbow greated us at the top of Big Wave, arching over the Ton Sai inland

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Meanwhile, from the village of Ton Sai, Ray was making coconut palm hats with his new friends...

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...when he heard familiar sounds from above, "Fook!" and,"You're off belay, Ben. Wahoo!" Can you spot us on the wall?

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Ray peaked through the coconut trees to get a glimse of Lindsey continuing up the climb

Ben, Ray, and our new energetic friend, Eric, got together to climb the popular multipitch called Humanality (6b+ or 5.11a), This climb runs right above the Freedom Bar, a popular afternoon hangout spot to watch climbers and have a beer.

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Ben making an airy stemming move onto a massive tufa

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The boys on the wall with Freedom bar below

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Freedom Bar below

Ben stepped up his climbing to try the steep, technical and exposed Lord of the Thais (7b or 5.12b) on Thaiwand Wall with our new Canadian friend, Joel. They succeeded too, not just the climb but the tricky rappel as well, and when they were able to share a conversation with Sam Lightner Jr., a famous climber who was responsible for this route's existence!

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Joel high on the route with only the ocean below them

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This is what Thaiwand Wall looks like (furthest right karst). While there's only difficult routes going to the top (5.12a is the easiest), there are many good single-pitch climbs here too, which we sampled.

After a life-changing event (more to come below), Lindsey learned to work past her fears on the sharp end and started leading climbs again. By the time we left Ton Sai, she either on-sighted (ascent on the first attempt without falling and without receiving beta about the climb) or red-pointed (ascent, may not be the first attempt, without falling) nearly all the climbs she lead. She even lead her first 6b (5.10c/d), a breakthrough she would continue to do over and over with increasing ease later in the trip. Yay!

We ran into the local pioneer of climbing, Wee Changra, all over the area. We shared a couple beers with him and even hung on his rope a couple times. It was great to see him again!

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Wee chalking up for a climb at Wee's Present wall

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Wee working an ultra-hard climb on Phra Nang beach

Our final day in Ton Sai, we took a longtail boat to Ao Nang Tower for a final bit of climbing adventure. This is a free-standing tower that you have to climb onto right from the boat and rappel right into the boat when you're finished. Noisy boats belch by between Ao Nang and Ton Sai/Railay carrying tourists and garbage, making communication a bit rough. But, Ben, Ray and Lindsey took the adventure head-on and loved every move of this 3-pitch climb!

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Ray traversing to meet Ben at the start of the climb

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Lindsey saying "mai bpen rai" (no worries) to the exposure and adventurous climbing

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Ben leading out on high exposure

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The boat waiting for us below

While on Ton Sai/Railay, Lindsey signed up for an Open Water scuba diving course to ensure the team would have a chance to dive later in the trip along Austrailia's Great Barrier Reef. This broved challenging for her. During her childhood in Jackson, WY, Lindsey has had some great friends drown, so this and other factors have lead to a bit of aquaphobia over the last decade or so for her. Therefore, there were many instances during the course when loaded down witn 20kgs of gear, Lindsey panicked on or under the water's surface. It's not natural to be able to breathe underwater and Lindsey's survival instincts kept reminding her of this. However, not wanting to miss out on the experience of exploring the strange underwater world, Lindsey was committed to seeing the course through. She taught herself techniques to calm down and regain focus--techniques that would later help her in lead climbing--and she was able to earn her Open Water Diver certification.

What a wonderful Christmas gift this new cirtification was. On the final day of her course, which was just happened to be on Christmas Eve, LIndsey made four dives around the Ko Phi Phi area, including Maya Bay. To make it even better, Ray, Ben and Eric joined the trip to do fun dives along side the students.

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Lindsey on her first step into the water

A first-person account of Ray doing a back-flip off the boat:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/benkunz/4265252324/


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Ben practicing his buoyancy...or is it underwater yoga?

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Ray, Ben, and Eric in full snorkel gear (and hand-made hats!)

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Ben and Lindsey on the boat near Maya Bay

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Sunset over Ton Sai and Railay

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Ben and Lindsey kicking off Christmas Eve with some beers from Bob, the street vendor guy. He made us hold bottles of Black Cock and Red Cock (Thai whiskeys) in this shot.

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Many more pics from our Andaman Adventure can be found here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/benkunz/sets/72157623055176886/
 

 
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Comments

krista on

Merry Christmas/Happy New guys!
wow...so beautiful, if only the pictures could tell us how insanely humid it is;)
Does your friend Ray have a death wish??? I watched his video too. Holy cr*p!

watch out for those dongers, could be a bad mix with the red and black cock whiskey...

Amanda & Brian on

Looks like you had a great Christmas! Hope you have just as much fun this year! :)

benandlindsey
benandlindsey on

Thanks, Brian and Amanda. The New Year has come to an adventurous start already!

Krista - So true about the humidity; we spared people the photos with sweat pouring down our faces and other uncomfortable places. Thailand is NEARLY perfect... Hope you had a great holiday season!

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