In the interest in getting a post up about what I’ve done, and not getting too bogged down in backstory to report, here is a picture post and a rough outline of my trip.
I arrived in Bangkok 10/10 where I could have taken a taxi to the popular Khao San backpacking area (or an AE3 bus, but they weren’t running for some inexplicable reason). I opted instead to take the train and then try to find the public bus, which ended up working out but taking much longer. At 58 baht vs ~350 for a taxi, though, it was monetarily very worthwhile.
In Bangkok I met up with Jenny where we took care of business before hopping on a bus that night to Koh Tao. We spent 4 and a half days on Koh Tao getting our PADI open water certifications with our awesome instructor Amy from Cali and exploring the island.
From Koh Tao we took a night boat south to the mainland town of Krabi where we stayed in a very nice guesthouse and ventured out with a German girl (that Jenny had met in Bangkok and run into again on the bus from the pier to Krabi) and guy to visit the Tiger Cave Temple. We went out for drinks with the Germans that evening, but after walking up – and then down – 1,237 steps in the midafternoon Thai heat, I was exhausted and headached and went to bed at 9:30.
The next day we took a longtail boat from Krabi to Railey, where we made friends with Claire and Sophie, a Brit and Swiss (respectively), who were traveling together with absolutely no plans and no goals other than hopefully making it to Nepal by some point in November. We had intended to spend about 2 days on Railey before heading to Koh Phi Phi, but liked Railey so much that we stayed the entire time until I left for Bangkok to get Cait. With an incredibly striking landscape and plenty of kayaking, hiking, climbing, snorkeling, and cliff jumping (not to mention general beach-ing), we had no problem filling our time. I spent time on the beach and climbing the mountain up to the viewpoint and also took my Deepwater Solo trip (with some pictures in a previous post) while Jenny enjoyed her intro-to-climbing class and the penis cave (more on that later (someone remind me if I forget)).
It was immediately after getting off the boat from my deepwater soloing trip that I experienced the less-than-enjoyable jungle trek I mentioned earlier. The long and short of the story is that I thought the trip ended around 3, and told Jenny I would meet her at 3:30 to catch a boat to the mainland to get the bus to Bangkok. When the trip didnt get back to Railey until after 6, I attempted to rush back to meet her (“Jenny! I’m not dead from some horrible cliff climbing / sea drowning mishap!”). In my rush I took a “shortcut”, and in the dark on my shortcut I took some wrong turns. And in the dark on my wrong turns I asked a local man if I was heading the right way to the East Beach (Railey has East and West beaches). When he smiled and nodded and said “Tonsai” I assumed he was using the local name for the beach and kept going. Knowing that the two beaches were not more than 10 minutes apart, I kept heading into the jungle assuming it would be faster to get out that to turn around, and it was quickly getting VERY dark and I had no flashlight, no shoes, and no desire to spend the night in the jungle.
It quickly became apparent that I was not going the right way, but at that point I had already fallen and split open my foot and was so far into the jungle that I didn’t dare turn around for fear that the multiple turns I had taken would be too hard to see in the dark and I would never find my way out. Luckily I almost clotheslined myself on a power wire I didn’t see in the dark. I say luckily, because power wires meant civilization and this gave me hope that I really was heading toward something, maybe even East Beach. But I wasn’t.
At least, I wasn’t headed toward East Beach. I came out in the backwoods of Tonsai which, I came to learn later, was a totally different beach connected to Railey only by boat, a rocky path along the water front at low tide, and a 45-60 minutes jungle path – which I had just errantly taken. Not a person in Tonsai seemed to understand the seriousness of my predicament – lost, injured, no light, almost no money – or English, for that matter. After a series of miscommunications and a ride in the back of a pickup truck, I met an American and a Brit who loaned me the 20baht I needed for the flashlight and two batteries (“But I only need two and dont have any money. Can you split the pack of batteries in half?” doesn’t convey so easily when the other person only speaks Thai) and showed me the entrance to the waterfront path which, mercifully, was accessible as it was now low tide. The path emerged to exactly where I had been dropped off by the boat some 90 minutes before. This time I took the path I knew back to meet Jenny, who was surprisingly unsurprised and unimpressed by my late arrival and tale of woe.
The next day/night we made the trip back to Bangkok. I added pages to my visa, then picked up Cait super late that night at the airport (taking the taxi back to the Khao San area). We spent the next day relaxing and walking around, then the following day visited the Grand Palace and saw the Chao Praya river trickling over its banks before catching the bus back to Railey.
We spent the first day exploring the island, our second day on another Deepwater Soloing trip, our third day hiking up to the viewpoint and down to a lagoon in the middle of the mountain (then back up the ropes/muddy mountainside in the rain), and the third day rock climbing on land. Our last night we splurged and at an incredibly upscale, beachfront restaurant in a super-swank resort. My food was only so-so, but the experience and interior decorating were great!
Today we’re in Koh Phi Phi, taking it easy and seeing what’s around. I had intended to keep this brief, but Cait’s still napping so I had more time than expected to write it up 😉
Oh – Pete asked about food in an earlier post. It was pretty miserable in Egypt, but as expected I’m having a fantastic time here. There are loads of curries (never yet had a bad one), rice dishes (generally quite tasty) and things with noodles (often less than tasty (even the Pad Thai isn’t very good?)), not to mention fruit shakes and cut fruit on the street for cheap. It’s not quite as cheap as Egypt, but Cait and I had 4 entrees and 3 servings of rice (generally sold separately here) in a sit-down restaurant for for lunch today for about $10.16, total.
Edit: Pictures are taking much longer than expected to upload, so I’ll leave you with these for today. This only covers our first day in Railey, though. I’ll try to add more over the coming days.
Ben, had no idea what “Deep Water Solo” was until seeing it on the Tiger Cave Temple site – YIKES!! I can’t relate to all the incredible experiences you’ve been having, and can’t wait to hear all about it in person. Glad you’ve decided against going towards the floods/famine/fleeing experience – a mom can only stand so much! Love you, mom