The day after we arrived Chris and I went on a islands tour that included the famous beach from the movie "The Beach" and Phi Phi islands
. I will stop there now and let Chris explain the rest of this tour since I too can't wait to hear how he chooses to describe our experience. Anyway, I was glad we did it.
The landscape here in Krabi is truly breath-taking and I feel fortunate to have seen it's world famous beauty. We saw a couple photos one of the local restaurants had of what Ao Nang looked like 10 years ago and another picture of what it looks like today and it looks very different and mostly developed. I imagine 10 years from today it will be unrecognizable with all the local camp sites and beach bungalows torn down and replaced with giant concrete resorts. It's really awesome that in-spite of increasing prices in the touristy areas of Thailand, you can still enjoy so much here for much less then in the U.S..
Our second full day here we decided to take the longtail boat to Ao Nang and enjoy the day exploring, sipping cocktails and eating the local fair. We found that on the most southern end of Ao Nang, past all the beach bars and message beds, right where the beach stops and a rickety wooden step trail begins, there lives what seemed like over a hundred small monkeys. They were cute and disgusting all at once. They would play and swim in the water (or monkey sewage), they would jump on people walking by trying to steal anything out of their victims bags and after cleaning each other and napping they would proposition each other all for us tourists to see
. Monkeys have no manners but they are entertaining. There is no reason to take a tour boat to Monkey Island, like we did, when you can see far more monkeys in town.
After watching the monkeys we followed people taking those wooded rickety steps up the side of the mountain and being more and more afraid of heights as I get older, I found this to be difficult. Like Bill Murray in What About Bob, who pretends he has terrets in order to keep from actually having terrets, I just joked about falling to my demise all the way up and down those rickety steps to somehow keep it from actually happening. Our reward for risking our lives was great views of Ao Nang and reaching a private beach other tourists have not yet discovered or risked there lives for.
After dinner and drinks at Mr. Long's Bar we went back to the Long Beach Villas to see about our tickets to Penang for the following morning. Even though we booked 4 nights, we thought 3 nights is enough and losing out of the $23 we paid for the fourth night would be worth it if we get to a new hotel/hostel with a bed I can sleep on. We gave the lovely woman who co-owns the villas money for the tickets to Penang and then she mentioned taking a bus to our destination. I was confused since I thought the only way to get to Penang was by minivan, I asked her about taking a bus to the broader or a minivan and her mouth dropped open
. She thought we were talking about Kopanang Thailand, not Penang Malaysia. I guess they call Kopanang Panang for short and they pronounce Penang "pea-nang" not "pen-nang" like we say it so we were lost in translation. No worries though, she cancelled our accidental transportation to Kopanang and scheduled our departure the day after to Penang Malasya. Good thing this all got figured out in time or we would have arrived in Kopanang (a small and secluded island) very confused and late for Chinese New Year.
I know it's kinda silly to go to Penang after watching the Anthony Bourdain episode where he visited the gastronomical capital of Malaysia but we can't help it, it looked awesome. I can't wait to arrive in Malaysia, a country I never hear about unless there is a tsunami or Anthony Bourdain eats there, I feel like we might discover something new or less trekked in its off season. -Sarah
So when we decided to leave Bangkok we were thinking of places with less people in a more secluded paradise setting. When the town of Krabi came to mind I thought the idea was perfect... Well almost. When people talk about this place they mention that it was the setting of a popular movie called "The Beach." I remembered seeing this movie and expressing my disappointment by saying "so the reason you backpack is to simply find a beach with no one on it? I don't buy that and I've already seen this movie the first time when it was called "The Lord of the Flies"
. I thought that this was a bad movie and shouldn't draw much tourism. But no, people apparently travel from all reaches of the universe to see where the greatest movie of all time (apparently) was filmed and expect to be the only, or first ones, there so they can relive this setting in the ambition of Leonardo's character who tries to find the most secluded beach in the world. The irony of showing up with this feeling but being taken to the most populated beach in the universe was both hilarious and disappointing. After a good forty minutes in a speed boat with a captain that thinks he's a pilot I spent my time hanging on a railing and watching that movie about my life so far (in my head) and noticing the lack of life jackets that we were not even given. The rough sea in this state would cancel such an excursion in the US but not here. I kept my mouth closed the whole time in fear of biting my own tongue off. Arriving at this island was the funny part because we turned the corner into the beach cove and witnessed the site of 20 other large boats debarking people to the famous movie set. I instantly got that feeling when I was little and didn't want to go to Sunday school but was dragged in there against my will. The depressing part was when I dove in the water and could see the coral floor torn apart by dozens of anchors dropped every day and the thousands of people lathered in sunscreen with know regard to how it often washes off and poisons the wildlife. Snorkeling rendered the site of only small fish when a much larger ecosystem should have been witnessed
. I just want to say that this tour should be shut down because of the ecological harm it has done and that fans of "The Beach" will not experience what they hoped to anyway. This is the Phi Phi island tour. It is pronounced pee pee and should be spelled that way now because it a tour trap that people are trashing, including myself. I will be more cautious when engaging in activities like this in the future. As for our beach bungalow I could not have asked for a better location. Ao Nang is a rapidly developed beach town that provides some great fun but would be like living in the movie "Animal House" if we were to board there. We got this great set up across a canal from the town which at first was annoying because we have to get a ride to cross it but worked out great because it kept the Full Moon parties from migrating to our beach. For those who don't know a Full Moon party is this party that happens every Full Moon where Western travelers go to town or Phi Phi island and get dangerously intoxicated and make really stupid decisions all night long (light a jump rope on fire, climb trees and huts, share glasses of bacteria infested drinks, throw garbage in the sea). In fact Western travelers party like this whether its a full moon or not so now the locals think that this is how we act at home as well. The next mornings the beach we stayed at would be littered with cups and plastic bags that are washed up on the beach and there is no municipal clean up so this often stacks up until the guest house workers can get to it
. I don't want to discourage anyone from coming to Krabi. In fact, it's incredibly beautiful. Don't go to the islands and instead stay on the beach next to Ao Nang because that is the setting that everybody hopes to see, plus the guest house owners need the business, and they are really good people. On our last day Sarah and I woke from our tree house style bungalow, had breakfast and watched the tide role back revealing the many crabs contributing to nature's cycle. I sat at the beach for a couple of hours knowing the moon had excited the sea once again and watched our beach flood in from a point that was a quarter mile away to 15 feet. We went to a late lunch at a neighboring beach house and enjoyed French fries, Thai food and cold beer as we watched the tide roll back out this time. We took this amazing long walk along the beach where the sand is so fine it packs down like a smooth hard floor. We were the only ones there on that beach and we could see a half mile in either direction. The guest house beach lights started to dim on and our walk stopped at one end where a pink sky cast just enough light to reveal the impressive mangroves that halted us. We walked back with noodle soup in our heads and stars in our eyes realizing now that this is what Krabi is, and used to be, all about. -Chris
Chris and I took an overnight train to Surat Thani, then a 3 hour bus ride to Krabi Provence, then a taxi to Ao Nang, a touristy beach town, and then we took a long tail boat across the bay to our beach bungalow at Long Beach Villas. We stayed in a bamboo bungalow, with its own bathroom, steps away from the beach and the guesthouse restaurant. The location was great because it was away from town and right by the beach but anytime we wanted to go into town we would have to take a $15 USD tuk tuk back once it got dark. While $15 USD is not much really, when your on a combined budget of between $60 to $70 dollars a day, it starts to add up. The bungalow was cute and romantic, that is until I attempted to sleep in the bed which is somehow harder then pavement. Although the bungalow was not perfect you can't beat the beach front location and on site local Thai restaurant all for $23 a night for the two of us.