. We were lucky enough to grab a stage front table in the street market so we chilled there for an hour or two, had a beer and watched the performances. There was some random kind of dance performance first which I wouldn’t really describe as dance; more so walking around in circles flapping your arms. That was followed up by a few cringy singers (if you could call them that). It was like karaoke and bad karaoke at that… still we were quite amused there for a time. For dinner we headed to the shore side night market, another of my favorite things about Krabi, where we had some lovely Thai dishes before heading back to bed.
I’m not usually one for organized tours, but there are a lot of things to see around Krabi and we had little time so we went on one of the day trips with one of the smaller companies. The lady in our hotel got us a nice deal for the tickets too. The day began with an 'Elephant Safari’ which involved sitting on an elephant and parading around in the forest for 40 minutes. Ours was a nice elephant named Lanta. It was cool for about 10 minutes but the novelty quickly wore off and we were just left feeling a bit sorry for poor Lanta. After the trekking we drove about an hour on the other side of Krabi to the Emerald pool. This was a side trip from the volunteering project which I missed as I had gone to Ao Nang instead. The Emerald pool is just that, a shallow pool which is crystal clear and emerald green
. It is inside a national park and the 800m walk to it is on a path through some dense jungle. We spent a half hour there enjoying a swim before heading on to the hot springs. Before the springs we had a lovely lunch with a good range of Thai dishes for Pia to try. The springs themselves were really nice too. Thermal springs mixed with a waterfall to give a flow at 40 degrees. In the waterfall pools have been carved out where you can relax and enjoy the therapeutic bath. After the springs we headed on to the last place of the day; the Tiger Temple. I had ideas about climbing the 1237 steps again to see if I could beat the monks 23 minute record but I discovered there was plenty else to see which I had missed on my last visit so changed my mind. There were lots of monkeys hanging around the grounds of the temple which was really exciting for Pia at least. We explored the jungle behind the temple and found lots of caves with little shrines in them. We also visited the main Tiger Cave Temple and the Monks Meeting Hall which were pretty cool, I was glad to get them in and find new places to explore on my second visit to the area.
Conveniently the tour guide was able to drop us in Ao Nang after the trip and the nice lady from the hotel allowed us to store our big backpacks with her for a few days. We found a nice cheap room in the center of the town and hit the beach immediately for some sunset Changs
. For dinner we went to one of the nice beach side resort restaurants… drawn in by the free salad bar and fire show. The food was nice (the rice came out in little heart shaped piles…. Awww!) and the fire show not bad although not a patch on what I had seen on Phi Phi. After dinner we went to the Soi to show Pia the bizarre go-go bar culture. It was not all that exciting so we just stayed for the one beer and after being schooled at pool by two of the girls went home for a reasonably early night.
Instead of sticking around Ao Nang for the day we decided to take a long tail to the more secluded Railay beach nearby. On the way there one of the ladies from number 9 (the beachside Thai massage place GVI goes to) called me over to give me some free pineapple; I think it was move of a reminder to pay her a visit before leaving Ao Nang. Railay is a beautiful head, having a beach on either side, which is cut off from the mainland by two huge steep carsts. It is reachable only by boat which means it is much quieter and less developed than Ao Nang. We spent and hour sunbathing and swimming before getting worried about the midday sun. We set off to explore the head in search of the lagoon and the viewpoint which was referred to as one of the nicest places in South Thailand in Pia’s guide book. Getting to the lagoon involved some fairly challenging rock climbing, for the clueless climbers we are
. We met a Russian guy who had just come down and he told us ‘viewpoint… easy like cake but lagoon… it’s for crazy man’. I was surprised and impressed when Pia took on the climb and had no difficulty (or even complaint) reaching the viewpoint. Indeed the view was spectacular and well worth making the climb. We checked out the lagoon and found a sheer 5 or 6 meter drop, followed by two more similar drops before reaching the sea. Using the rope we could probably have gotten down there but we figured getting back up would be an entirely different matter so we turned around and climbed back down the way we came up. It was quite a bit more challenging on the way down but we made it with little more then a scratch here and there. We then found Phra Nang beach which had an interesting looking fertility temple in it. After having a look at that we washed off the dirt in the sea before sunbathing on the beach for an hour. We had a snack from the funny looking long tail fast food sellers which were parked on the beach. We stuck around there until the last long tail taxi departed for Ao Nang just after 6, catching the sun set on the way. Another nice evening was had with a lovely expensive meal. Ireland was playing Scotland in the six nations and I was lucky enough to catch the last 30 minutes in an Irish bar beside the guesthouse. I sat at the bar sipping a Murphy’s and there were a couple of old Paddys behind me shouting at the screen. For a moment I was at home again and it was a most wonderful feeling
The following day we were planning to visit Ao Luk but not before spending and morning/afternoon in the sun. We went to number 9 and had breakfast there on the beach. After a few hours alternating between sunbathing and swimming we had some Thai massages and Pia had her nails done too. It was nice, but a fairly gentle farrang friendly massage not a patch on the real one I was looking forward to in Ao Luk. After lunch we said farewell to the beach and headed to Ao Luk by Song Tao (via Krabi of course). It felt strange to be returning to Ao Luk once again, although I also had nice feeling of coming home. We checked into the hotel beside base and settled in before popping our heads into base. Again I had the warmest of receptions, Rach came running from the Palapa and jumped on me with a big bear hug and the others seemed pretty happy to see me too. It was really nice. A gang of us, all from the old crowd, headed to Bamboo restaurant for dinner and in no time at all it felt like I had never left. There was a quiz night on base and we were invited to come along so we did. It was good fun and we didn’t do too badly at all. After the quiz we chilled around the palapa for a few Changs… it was wonderful to be palaping back on base, just like old times J
In the morning we had a Seven-11 breakfast in the room before heading to the coffee shop I had discovered on my last visit to Ao Luk. There was one turn off the main road near base which had signs for a monastery and a cave. It was a road I had always been meaning to explore and never had a chance in the past so we set out for a look. As we moved further from the main road the scene became more and more rural, the way I would have expected Ao Luk to be before I first arrived
. We found the monastery and it looked like there wasn’t much to see there so we continued on. After a few kilometers in the midday heat it dawned on me that I had no idea how far it was. We persevered aided by the cool countryside with all sorts of stuff growing and a few ‘exciting’ birds to keep herself amused. Eventually we did arrive at the cave after over an hours walking. The cave had a keeper, a monk was living there. He didn’t have a word of English but I could sense that he was somewhat excited to have visitors. We explored around the cave and it was quite cool, made more so by the fact that it was a place that rarely saw tourists if any at all. On our way back some people who we passed working in the fields stopped to give us a lift back to base which was nice. We popped by base on our way to the national park. I showed Pia around a little bit but the park did feel a little dwarfed by the jungles we had been through on the trip from Krabi. After having a swim in the park I went for an awesome 120 baht massage. Next we went to pay a visit to the center at the break between the two classes. It felt a bit strange to be there and not teaching but it was nice to see Pi and to hear that he was doing well in level 2. Caught by a bout of heavy rain on the way home we hopped into a plain looking restaurant for some plain food. In the evening we had a beer on the palapa again. The novelty wore of that time and there was a definite feeling that my time in GVI Thailand had come… and gone.
After an uneventful but lovely night in Hat Yai we took the first available minivan out of there to Krabi. It was a bit annoying when the guy spent about 40 minutes driving all around the town trying to fill up before getting on the road. Eventually he did fill up with a gang of middle aged rowdy Russians who we would have to listen to shout over us for the whole journey. We arrived in Krabi at about 3 in the afternoon and had no problem finding a place. After settling in we strolled around the town catching a few of the sights that I knew only too well at that stage. We browsed around the food market and soaked up some of the town's atmosphere that has grown on me so much since I first arrived. There was some kind of parade through the town that promoting the opening of a new car dealership. A group of central streets were once again closed off for the Friday Walking Street Market. This is what I love about Krabi, there is always something going on to entertain you even if you have already been there ten times