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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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)

On the train to Guilin

semi-overcast 18 °C

Despite almost missing our train, the whole ride was a great experience. We slept soundly on our bottom and middle bunks. Trains in the hard sleeper class (still not as hard as my mattress in Thailand) had three bunks, the top one being the most cramped and cheapest, requiring quite a climb. It was nice to enjoy the bottom bunk where we could actually sit up and have a conversation in the morning.

We bought some snacks for breakfast which turned out to be expired dried yam and we could really tell that those weren't fresh. Quite the chewy affair. I also snagged expired orange juice that thankfully didn't make me sick. It was carbonated and sugary enough that I figured it'd be okay. The dates also could be packaged dates but based on our expired chocolate we couldn't be too sure.

We kept watching the countryside migrate become less and less urban as we headed away from the coastal areas. The landscape became more rocky, and mountainous. Ryan spotted some rice terraces as well.

The captain of the train -- perhaps just a worker, their uniforms were so official looking -- was quite intrigued with our presence. Although he spoke no English and we no Chinese, he kept trying to have conversations with us. Our short sleeves were too provocative for his tastes and he was quite concerned we'd be cold. He checked out Ryan's luggage tags on another visit too. When I finally changed into a shirt with three quarter length sleeves, I gained his approval.


A few hours later, one of the woman working helped us get off at the right stop at Guilin. From the train station, there were tons of vendors calling out for tours to Yangshuo or to the rice terraces, but we wanted to find our bus station instead to avoid getting scammed. Once we walked the street, passing many fruit vendors -- selling oranges, bananas, pomelo, rambutan and even one that was yellow and appeared to have fingers called Buddha's hand -- and restaurants, we made it to the train station. We were happy to find a woman who spoke English at the ticket counter, but less thrilled that we still weren't at the right ticket station. Luckily, she wrote us out directions to the next one in Chinese to show the driver along with the bus driver.

At the other bus station, another woman spoke English at the ticket counter. We were getting spoiled in Guilin and we boarded a bus to Heping that left about twenty minutes later. The driver really gave our nerves a workout with a driving practise that's less common in North America: driving into the oncoming lane to pass even when there's oncoming traffic, as well as honking the horn when the other cars, in their own lane, refuse to move over. It really got the heart racing and I was surprised they still had functional horns on their vehicles.

We didn't arrive at our transfer spot, the town of Heping, until after five. All the public buses had gone, but there was one guy willing to take us up for 40RMB each. It seemed steep but he was the only game around so we hopped in, got our rice terrace entry tickets at the office, and he drove up the mountain as the sun began to go down. We could still see the terraces climbing the side of the mountains as we drove. The driver stopped at one point on the mountain and Ryan got ready to fight him, unsure of his motives. It was just nature calling and the man came right back.

When we arrived at the gate, I figured out why our driver had been texting people along the drive. Woman and men with large baskets offered to carry up our bags for us but we declined. Others were trying to sell us rooms. A woman followed us for a few kilometers advertising her hotel, but we knew of a hostel we wanted to stay at, since they would have some English to help us plan, and we told her we had already booked a place. It was another kilometer or two up the road, past construction, but luckily the hostelling international sign helped reassure us that by pure luck we were in the right place.


The room was alright, thin wooden walls and a bit cold, but the right price. The floors creaked like nobody's business to go down to the third floor to use the washroom. But they had free laundry facilities, aka a sink and clothes line, and a restaurant with an English menu so we could eat supper: noodles and beef for Ryan and bamboo and egg for myself.

Posted by Sarah.M 15:59 Archived in China Tagged train rice fruit hostel terrace expired longji chewy Comments (1)

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