A Travellerspoint blog

May 2015

Krabi kayaking and ants

semi-overcast 31 °C

The next morning we learned why the guesthouse had a no food in the rooms policy. I went out on the balcony to make myself a breakfast sandwich only to find nature had added its own protein. The jar swarmed with tiny ants so I put the lid back on, left it on the ledge and went back inside.

"I hope you like plain bread."

"Why?" Ryan asked.

"Go look at the jar."

Ryan walked over to it and had a similar reaction. That thing wasn't coming near our room if it wasn't it a Ziplock. Some ants had escaped and were crawling around the ledge too.

We didn't think they'd get up to the fifth floor. Crazy buggers.

We packed up our bags and lastly brought out our rule breaking offense. We found a trash bin in the lobby to dispose of it. Soon we were in the van with a few other tourists as our guide briefed us on our half, or full for others, day of kayaking. He had a lot of information and zest. No one in our group had kayaked before either.

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At the site, they walked us through the basics of paddling forward and back in our two-man sea kayak. I sat in the back as 'captain' since I'd been kayaking before. An Indian couple were in our group as well as a Canadian woman who went with our guide.

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Our first stop was an oyster farm and around the time I realized the different memory card we brought was corrupted and wouldn't allow us to take more than 10 pictures, so apologies for the poor quality. Essentially the farm was our guide picking up a crate with oysters attached then putting it back in the water.

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Next we paddled to Lod cave with impressive stalactites. The neat part was that we were able to paddle the canoes all the way through and back. Our group was more interested in getting photos of themselves kayaking in these places than moving around too much. Very recreational tour. They kept telling us to slow down. The mangrove forests that we traversed were quite beautiful and the root structures showed as the water was low.

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We paddled a short distance to the second cave that featured ancient cave paintings. According to our guide, they were done in blood and still remained today. The water levels then would have been much higher, given the location of the paintings. Some paintings were of men, animals, and even aliens. Jury's out on whether he was joking or not. He did also tell us that the people used the caves to hide from dinosaurs in all seriousness. Ryan found this quite amusing.

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We kept walking around the dry cave to admire the stalactites and stalagmites. The caves were quite large, a couple stories high and we explored the different levels. Lighting was a bit bad for photos, but we all snapped away anyway. We found out the other Canadian woman had been studying in Australia so she shared some information about it with us. Partway through the chat, it was already time to paddle back and have lunch.

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The Indian couple's boat got towed back behind the guide's since they were struggling. We raced them all to the starting/ending point. The guide complimented our kayaking skills. I'd wished we'd done a little more real kayaking, but maybe next time. The caves were cool.
We had a lunch stop on the way back, delicious cold fried rice, but meat-free and that's all that mattered to me. The van dropped us off at 3 Bees guesthouse which was a bit tricky since neither us nor the driver had been there before. When we saw the Italian flag on the sign, we got them to stop and we were there.

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We walked up the fifth floor, again. The Thai guesthouses really had it out for us and settled into our room. We took our time showering, washing some clothes and cooling off until we realized there was no wifi in the room. When we asked about it, they explained it would work a floor down or we could switch rooms. We weren't sure why we didn't get the other room in the first place, but it all got settled. The other room was in a different building but luckily only on the fourth floor.

We booked another tour for tomorrow, rock climbing, inspired by our false attempts in China, and then tried to make it down to the beach for sunset. We got easily distracted with the supply of cheap fruit shakes, little markets and even a nearby mosque in passing. In theory, twenty minutes of walking down this street would reach the beach.

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Near sunset, we finally made it to the gorgeous beach, even in time for a quick swim. The clouds were epic against the lightly coloured horizon. With working memory cards we took a lot of photos. Some settings are more fun than others. We found a dramatic one we enjoyed.

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For supper we found a tiki style restaurant where we shared pineapple fried rice which came in a half of a hollowed out pineapple and Ryan's favourite, Penang curry. On the walk back, the pancake stalls were so tempting we topped up our supper with an apple cinnamon pancake each. Thailand was a land of wonderful snacks and treats.

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Posted by Sarah.M 01:32 Archived in Thailand Tagged sunset beach krabi cave kayaking painting ants butter peanut Comments (0)

Ao Nang Beach Bums

sunny 34 °C

In the morning, we had our breakfast on the balcony to avoid eating in the room and breaking the guesthouse's rule. Peanut butter sandwiches and apples were a good call. After that we got ourselves beach ready, digging out the shorts and sunscreen that was long buried during our stint in China, and hopped in another songtao. This time we weren't just being cheap. It was the legitimate way to travel between Krabi town and Ao Nang where the beaches were. The wind blowing in our hair helped cool us down, and the truck bed did have seats, a roof and rail-like walls for the illusion of safety.

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Ao Nang was certainly different than Krabi town. The beachfront was lined with tourist restaurants, fruit shake stands, tour package offers, but nothing to indicate a local presence. We checked out a few of the tours but nothing caught our eye just yet so we hit the beach.
The sand was light and soft on the feet. There were hardly any people on it at all. We wondered who could possibly pass up such a beautiful day. Probably the people on tours. We sprawled out on a nice cozy section and headed into the warm waters. They were still cool enough to refresh and incredibly clear. To our left, there tree covered karst that sheltered the beach and to the right the sand went on further than we wanted to walk.

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Eventually, our stomachs decided they'd had enough beach time and we needed food. We found a reasonable place with vegetarian options as well as whole coconuts that they'd cut the top off, pry open and stick in a straw. Once we'd tackled all the coconut water, we had spoons to dig the meat out of the shell. It was a lot chewier than if it had been dried out as we were used to. Our food was good too, although we couldn't recall what it was.

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We wandered the beach until the lack of shade sent us back in the water for a dip and later to find fruit shakes from a nearby vendor. We brought them along in the songtao packed with other tourists making the return journey and a few local women as well. The journey back took us a little over half an hour, and boy was that breeze appreciated.

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We hadn't intended to stay in Krabi too long, but we were enjoying it so much we didn't want to leave. Unfortunately, our indecisiveness meant that we would have to switch to dorms here or find a new accommodation. Given the prices, we opted to relocate to a cheap double room in Ao Nang, plus the tours would be easier to do from there, we thought. The man working the tour desk at our guesthouse helped us line up a kayaking tour that would also transfer us from this hotel to our next, no hard feelings because their double rooms were booked solid.

We went next door to a pad thai restaurant with only local customers so far. We split a dish that even came with a lime, which was perfect. The pad thai was good, but we wished it had a bit more sauce. Then we ventured over to the weekend market, first acquiring fruits like guava and oranges.
The market was absolutely packed tonight. Ryan managed to get some fried chicken and I stood in a long line for som tam, papaya salad. I had to stand close enough so I could make sure the little shrimp didn't get added. When they did, the man was nice enough to start a new one for me. Surely someone behind me in line would want it the shrimpy one. We fought our way through the crowd to circle the tables and swoop in as one opened up. As we ate, a Thai pop band started playing on stage and increasing the demand for tables. We stayed out of curiosity, but Ryan wasn't really feeling the music.

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After, we perused the market. I had a bag of salty popcorn in hand while Ryan looked through the tank tops that would get him through this hot weather. He found a gray one with a camera printed on it. Next, we looked at the sarong, a must have for the Asia trip in my opinion. They really could be anything and everything: towel, blanket, scarf, head wrap, skirt, table cloth, dress, pillow. Ryan got to barter a little bit for his elephant print sarong and fetched a fair price. All and all, a pretty good night and way to end our stay in Krabi town.

Posted by Sarah.M 02:41 Archived in Thailand Tagged beach drink krabi fruit coconut shake ao nang songtao Comments (0)

To Krabi town!

Our (re)introduction to Thailand

sunny 33 °C

The flight to Kuala Lumpur was long but we managed to sleep just a bit. The cabin was pretty dry when combined with all the arid weather we faced in China, so we had to buy a bottle of water. If you've never flown budget Asian airlines, the only complimentary extra they offer you other than the ticket and a smile, is the barf bag. You pay out of pockets for everything else. I had some Malay currency from my last trip so it worked out fine and we got our tiny bottle.

I had been dreading flying into Kuala Lumpur's airport since we booked the flight, but as it turned out they'd built a new one in the past two years which meant that we didn't even have to go through immigration or customs or reclaim our bags. They actually had a layover counter to make sure our bags were coming through and that we were in the right place. We did have to collect the tickets that the clerk in Beijing failed to print for us. We spent our few hours using the free unrestricted internet again, hurray for Facebook and Google! We also ate sandwiches at Dunkin Donuts which was one of our few options. They even had free drinking water at the airport. We hardly wanted to leave.

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The flight to Krabi was short and sweet, but the immigration lines less so. Once we cleared them, we were free to go with our 30 day stamp. We ditched our Beijing sweaters that had made us stick out in KL but the jeans and long sleeves would have to stay a bit longer.

Ignoring the offers from bus companies and taxis, we set off to find a songtao I'd read about on wikitravel. We tried to find a spot in the shade on the main road as we kept an eye out for pick-up trucks. They were colour coded and we just needed a white one. The hot, sticky, air wasn't doing us any favours and after fifteen minutes I was beginning to doubt the advice I read was valid.

Finally, we flagged one down. Ryan wasn't too sure about riding in the back of a truck. I had forgotten that normal people found it a bit strange and unsettling. After a year living here, it had just become normal for me. He went with it anyway and we made it into town for just under a dollar combined.

Once we were there, I could finally use Google maps to help us find the hotel. Fun fact, if you load the city's map beforehand, the built in GPS will even keep working once the wifi disappears. Before we found our destination, we did have to stop and buy fruit from a vendor with what little Thai I remembered. She spoke English anyway, but it was still fun to be able to communicate with people again. Ryan loved the Thai pineapple and I'd missed it too. He was already falling in love with the country and I was beginning to wonder why I ever left. A sweet treat and some heat mid-winter will do that to a person.

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We found our guesthouse on the main street, past some cheap food vendors, tourist clothing stands, convenience stores and a very lost drunk Finnish guy. The lobby was nice and spacious with a tour desk and high ceilings. The woman working greeted us with a smile and told us we had a wonderful room, lots of space but very high. The cheapest ones always seem to be on the top, in this case 5th, floor. She wasn't lying about the room though: bright walls with so much space to move around, plus a balcony.

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Excited about the city, we went into Krabi town to explore. We found where to buy water and food. A grocery store with an imported foods section even carried Skippy peanut butter so we had to pick some up despite the marked up price, plus a little spoon. If anything we were budgeting and saving money - think of all those cheap breakfasts we could have. Wandering the outdoor shops, Ryan even managed to find himself a bandana before we settled into a little tourist cafe with prices three times as high as I remembered. The pineapple fruit shakes were nice and our curries delicious. I had a Tom Kha coconut milk soup and Ryan had Penang curry.

A market sprung up as the sun went down. Food, clothes, accessories, electronics, crafts and all kind of stands were set up to cater to the mix of foreign and local customers. English signs helped us figure out some of the dishes we might try tomorrow. Ryan found a pretty sweet tiger shirt that he'd been anticipating buying long before we hopped on the plane to China. He went back and forth on the price before agreeing to it. I still had a pretty good sense of what was a fair price so he did well.

We found Thai pancakes with banana and chocolate and sat down to eat them while people on stage performed some sound checks. The young women working at the restaurant we ate at before were running around collecting dishes at the tables. They saw us, waved and laughed, probably because we couldn't stop eating. How could you with all this tasty food?

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A lot of people rag on Krabi town as a place they wouldn't want to stay. Personally, I loved seeing the mix of local culture and tourist infrastructure. Markets, street stall food, restaurants, shops on the first floor of multi-story buildings. To me this was Thailand. Because we were in the South, there were more Muslim Thai people and that was reflected in the dress. It was something I had missed my first time crashing through the south as a speedy tourist. The fact that local people were out enjoying the market meant that this wasn't all for show for the visitors too. It felt real and I loved that part of it.

Posted by Sarah.M 07:36 Archived in Thailand Tagged market kuala thailand krabi maps lumpur google curry klia2 songtao Comments (0)

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