Rugged Knee, Deep Blue Sea

Trip Start Feb 08, 2010
Trip End Aug 12, 2010

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Where I stayed
The Rock

Flag of Thailand  , Krabi,
Sunday, February 21, 2010

After a grinding overnight train involving several mysterious stops and a creepy steward who spoke only in whispers, as well as a circuitous minibus journey where the driver brought his girlfriend along and held an unlit cigarette in his lips the entire way, I arrived in Krabi--well almost. We were dropped off at the "bus station," a scattered collection of thatch huts several kilometers outside of town. Naturally (and how convenient!) the minibus service offered transport into town for an additional fee. It was only 20 baht, around 75 cents Canadian, but I objected on principle and with a friendly Scotsman named Kirean took off onto the scorching highway in search of alternate, non-thieving transport. We ended up paying a songthaew (a covered pickup truck with benches in the back) exactly what was being extorted out of us, but hey, some things you just can't let slide.

Kirean and I split a room in Krabi and went out that afternoon to check out the Tiger Cave Temple, just outside of town. On a whim we decided to summit the sacred mountain. A sign warned us that the journey was over 1200 steps, but I figured hell, that's only the Wreck Beach stairs three times, how bad could it be?  What I didn't know was that each stair was like a foot tall and on a pretty raw incline. Thus begand a grueling deathmarch. I reached the top a sweat-soaked mess, but the view and a conversation with a monk about hockey were worth it.

That evening Kirean and I met up with a fellow Canadian named James and over a bucket (or two) we decided that we should all rent scooters the next day. O noble scooter! Helios keep thine chariot, I would but scooter the sun o'er the sky. There is little in life more pleasurable that the cool whip of wind in your face, the road sailing behind you and the smug knowledge that your gas economy is superb. The three of us spent the day riding around the coast, finding beaches, and trying not to die. Thai people are bad drivers in the sense that they're reckless and good drivers in the sense that they can drive recklessly but still manage not to die in a fiery wreck every single day. I must admit, I am a cautious scooterer, being pretty happy to stick to the left, wear a helmet and cruise along at a solid 50, getting passed by helmetless women with three babies on their laps or 13 year old girls on motorcycles. 

Then it was off to Ko Lanta to meet Gwen and Sage.  Ko Lanta is a sleepy place, with its long, long beach covered in guesthouses, bungalows, and bars, and its rocky coast dotted with small villages. Drug culture seems to be pretty open on the island, which is weird when you consider that the narcotics laws in Thailand are extremely strict. A few places openly advertised their mushroom tea and "happy shakes," which is drug dealing, a capital crime here. A bartender tried to give me my change in magic mushrooms--it took some talking to convince him I'd really prefer baht. It's still a mystery how everyone on Ko Lanta hasn't been executed.

But scootering is better than drugs, so Gwen, Sage, a Chilean named Margarita and yours truly took off on a scooter adventure. We took them out for a nice hike to a "waterfall" (minus the water) and a pretty sweet cave. On the way back, however, disaster struck. Riding with Gwen over a bumpy unpaved section of the road, going about 5 kilometers an hour, everything seemed fine. The little scooter was handling the tough going well, chugging along in its spirirted if lo-fi sort of way. But this one ditch was just too much, turning the wheel and tipping the little hog. Gwen and I went down, and when the dust cleared walked away with some badass skinned knees. So, protip: keep 100cc scooters on paved roads.

After a few nights on Ko Lanta I made my way to Ko Phi Phi.   It's an incredibly beautiful island, and so naturally has been milked for all it's worth. The village is a tourist-hell, but it's kind've charming in its own way. I'm reasonably sure this is the only part of the Muslim world where you can see a wet T-shirt contest. The bars display a hilarious contempt for the safety of their patrons. One place, ostensibly a "rasta" bar, encourages its drunken patrons to step into a ring and fight exhibition muay thai matches. Their reward? A bucket. More booze. People get the crap kicked out of them for three dollars worth of alcohol. At the beach bars drunks are allowed to jump through flaming hoops or over ignited skip ropes. I love this attitude! Let people make their own mistakes! The nanny state is nowhere to be found on Ko Phi Phi.

By chance I met up with Kirean here, as well as ten thousand Danes, and have had some pretty great times exploring the nightlife. I saw a Thai cover band that played every rock standard in the universe for about nine hours straight. Also: I got my scuba certification! But as I'm going for my advanced course, I'll write about my underwater adventures in the next post.
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GArgoyle on

BEST, WAY TO GOoooo.. Really appreciated here.

carol hudson on

Great blog! Can't wait for the next one!

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