Ao Nang, Thailand: Birthday Boats & Beers
Trip Start Jul 28, 2013
76Trip End Feb 06, 2014
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Stepping off the bus and onto the hot bustling sidewalk we considered our options. Down to the main thoroughfare for a beachside hotel with swimming pool or up the street of tourist tat for a cheaper but airconned hotel room. We opted for the latter and ended up finding a nice quiet place not far from all the action.
I was keen to revisit Ao Nang due my last time being with my sister just two weeks after the devastating 2004 tsunami. The town I saw then was desolate, battered and bruised. More often than not Bree and I were the only foreigners in sight. There was no one else staying at our beachside hotel. There was no one else eating in any of the restaurants or drinking in the bars. Longtail boats were washed up on destroyed coastlines. Locals we met then were saying "Please tell your friends to come visit. Everything ok. We need tourists".
In vast contrast the town I stepped into now was a thriving metropolis. Hotels stretched for km's away from the beach. Restaurants and bars snaked their way through streets offering a myriad of culinary delights from Chinese to Italian, Thai to Swiss, Indian to Swedish. McDonalds and Starbucks had joined the invasion as had the obligatory Irish Bar or two. Shops sprouted tie-dye ensembles or encouraged tree lopping in their quest to quench the tourist thirst for wooden games, vases or ornamental animals. From the quiet town of recovery it had missed it's chance at Lipe chic and instead blown full force into Phuket chav.
Would I recommend going? No, not if you're looking for the cultural heartland of Thailand. Ao Nang is definitely not the place. Did we have fun whilst we were there? You betcha. What did we do? We spent A LOT of time in the Irish bar playing pool and when we weren't there you could find us at one of the bars overlooking the beach promenade people watching. One advantage of it being chav central - people watching was fabulous. We ate a lot, drunk a lot and slept a lot. Another plus is that it's a gateway to a host of islands located a short distance from the coast and of course the famous Railey Beach.
On my Birthday day of fun we went to a shooting range and fired a sniper rifle, magnum handgun and, my personal favourite, pump action shotgun. I blame Vegas for kick starting my liking of firearms and clay pigeon shooting for further encouraging it. After we had successfully blown our money up in smoke we caught a longtail boat to the nearby bay of Railey Beach. Accessible only by boat, lined with palm trees and sheltered by limestone cliffs it was the perfect place to soak up some rays whilst lazing in the crystal clear water. After a couple of hours there we returned to Ao Nang for a sunset seafood feast on the beach accompanied of course by a bottle of champagne. Picture perfect. The merriment continued on an epic pub crawl until the wee hours of the morning. Neither of us are entirely sure until what time but I know for a fact I woke up feeling 110% awful and a lot more like 53 years of age than 33. In saying that perhaps by 53 I would have learnt when enough's enough.
Needless to say we didn't get up to much on our last day in Thailand. Went for a final stroll along the promenade where I paid a ridiculous amount of money to have my nails done which took near 2 hours and resulted in less than perfect talons. After a final supper opposite the beach we packed our bags and readied ourselves for the next leg, or stepping stone, of our journey - Malaysia.
Transport: Longboat taxi, ferry and Bus (dep 0930 arr 1530) TBH 1,000 each
Hotel: **** TBH 800. Dbl room with aircon and balcony.