We have finally completed the long recovery needed from our week of vacation and I feel tip top now and am ready to tell you guys all about it! Just to set the stage a little bit, obviously Thailand does not celebrate the Christian holidays nor the American holidays. Fortunately, as I teach at a Christian school, I get both Thai and Christian holidays off. But not surprisingly Thais don't celebrate Thanksgiving so there is really no major holiday in the fall months in Thailand. Therefore my school gives everyone a week off for "Fall Break," and that is what happened last week. Lauren was already off work the entire month of October, so it worked out that we were both off from work this week and decided that we needed to get back to our true passion….. the beach!
The amazing part about Bangkok is travel to anywhere in Southeast Asia, especially Thailand is so cheap and easy
. We booked plane tickets and a bungalow at a nice resort, and headed to Railay Beach which is in South Thailand right near the major resort city of Krabi. Railay is a small peninsula shaped like a V with a beach on each side. The east side has a bit of a rocky beach but has all of the restaurants and pubs and the accommodations are cheaper. The West side has the very nice beach and luxury resorts, but fewer restaurants and pubs. You know I LOVE the beach, but my pubs (and my wallet) have to take precedence. We stayed on the East side.
We arrived in the Krabi airport at about 7pm Saturday night and took a shuttle to a pier where there was a long-tail boat waiting to bring us to our accommodations on Railay. Now it is an on-going joke between Lauren and I because we always seem to arrive at places that we travel to at night. So when we arrive to these places it is pitch dark and we never get to see what any of the landscape looks like. This was no exception with this trip. Would love to show you pictures of when we arrived, but just close your eyes and that is basically what it looked like. The boat ride to the resort was actually quite painless and non-traumatizing and when we pulled up to the beach, porters were waiting to take our bags. Foolish, foolish men. They failed to realize that the Mrs. packs 9 outfits for every occasion, and her bag ways a few pounds less than Mars
. So these guys carried our bags up about 80 steps (our Bungalow was on the side of a mountain cliff) and were about the size of He-man when they reached the top. It was pretty funny. I handsomely compensated each of them with 50 Bht (1.25 USD). Keep the change. Now again, being about 8:30 at night, we really couldn’t tell what our resort looked like, but our bungalow was great. Basic, but really clean and well kept up and everything. The greatest things about this resort, and really the island in general, is that we came during “low season” when it typically rains a lot so very few tourists travel to the Thailand resorts, apart from a handful of backpackers. So for the first 3 days we were in Railay, we were the only people staying at the resort which meant the staff was waiting on us hand and foot. And our accommodations, due to the low season, were about $22 USD a night. How much more perfect for a Dutchmen can it be?! We quickly put down our bags and headed out to explore Railay East and all it had to offer. Now something that was minimally mentioned in our guidebooks, is that Railay East had all the restaurants in bars, but when we started walking down the beach we realized that it had a serious nightlife scene with about 13 restaurants and about 8 bars. Made me feel like I was back at Celebrity Square. It was great. We grabbed a couple pints, ate some food, and really just took everything in. One of the staples in Railway East is that none of the bars and few restaurants have chairs. They all have these Arab-lounging cushion type things that you kind of just lay on or lean it. It is real cool and really relaxing. Anyways after a bit of exploring we headed back for some much needed rest.
Now I don’t know what got into Lauren on Sunday morning, but at about 4:30 am she wakes me up and says “Hey come outside and check the Sunrise!” Now I rarely sleep in, so when I do sleep, I cherish it
. Yes, I do wake up really really early most days but that is for ddifferent, more constructive reasons. I couldn’t believe what I was being forced to do but I have to admit, it was really beautiful watching it and watching it rain over the nearby islands. After I of course went back to sleep, we woke up and could actually see in the daylight what our resort looked like. It was pretty flippin sweet and we quickly got ready so that we could explore the rest of Railay. We didn’t take a map with us or anything and kind of just explored Railay by the seat of our pants. We came across caves, rock climbers, hidden cliff restaurants, luxury resorts, but not one temple! Grrrrrrr (and BTW I posted over 123 pictures and not a single one is of a temple this time so HA! Injure face). We finally made it to Railay West- the beach that is in all of the guidebooks and all of the advertisements and is ranked as one of the best beaches in the world. And it truly held up to its name. It is surrounded by these white limestone cliffs, crystal clear turquoise water, and a beautiful view of a number of islands in the distance. After taking all of it in we decided to continue on to a beach we read about just on the other side of a cliff, that was supposedly even more beautiful and more secluded. It was during high tide so we couldn’t walk around the cliff. What was our only other option? Yep. Through the cliff. This is where we started one of our many rock climbing episodes.
When we finally made it through the cliff and to the other side, we quickly realized that our efforts weren’t in vain
. This beach was gorgeous. There were a number of rock climbers scaling a near-by cliff and just a bunch of people, mostly backpackers, chilling on the beach and at the few restaurants on the beach. Of course we took a load off and grabbed a pint and just took it all in. After a short while we decided to head back, but Lauren saw a sign that said “Jungle Trail to Railay East,” and she was like “oooh lets take that, that sounds like fun.” Now in my life experience, I have learned never to trust anything that starts with the word “jungle” (jungle gym, jungle fever, jungle juice, etc.). But she was bound and determined to go this way so of course I caved. Well guess what? Have you ever heard of the Bataan Death March? Well this would have rivaled that I think. It was about 1000 miles long, up the highest mountain in Railway, through thick jungle and all during about a 110 degree day. Took us about 3 hours to get back and needless to say, after threats of divorce flew rampant, I forgave Lauren for her “suicide trail” decision and we just crashed back at the resort.
At night we headed out for a little more of the Railay East night life and saw that there was going to be a Mauy Thai (Thai style of boxing) match at one of the bars. So after an amazing dinner of fresh seafood kebabs, we scored ourselves a ring side seat for the match. At first they had a fire show which was really cool, and when the match finally started, it was clear that these guys were not professional fighters, and we are pretty sure that the “knockout” was staged, but it was still really cool to see nonetheless
. Afterwards we hit up a pub right next to our resort, that really became our favorite of the week. It was called Skunk Bar. As I mentioned earlier, there were hardly any people at Railay besides a handful of backpackers. And for the record, as much as I despise dirty hippies, I really like the backpacking folk. Kinda wish I would have done that before college. Anyways, we were the only ones at Skunk Bar and I was in the mood for quite the night cap. I mean we WERE on vacation. So I ordered a bucket, yes a bucket, of coke and a local Thai whiskey called “Sangsom.” Sangsom tastes very similar (albeit ghetto) to my favorite Southern Comfort. Well, needless to say the bartender got such a kick out of this westerner drinking this Thai Whiskey that he called me “Mr. Sangsom” for the rest of the week. He even made me a sign which I obliged him by wearing. The Thai really are a cool people. So yes, let the record show that I now hold the title of “Mr. Sangsom” at Railay beach. A proud moment in my life indeed.
We woke up really early the next morning because we had booked an Elephant trekking adventure. We were really pumped up about it and it proved to be such an incredible experience. They took us through the jungle, through rivers, we saw a ton of monkeys, I watched the elephant take a big poop, it was awesome! After the trek they dropped us off at a nearby pier called Ao Nang to get a longtail boat back to Railay
. Lauren and I really liked Ao Nang and decided to spend a few hours there just exploring everything. We also ate at an Italian Restaurant where the food was really good. And that is hard for me to say because you know my thoughts on Italians. But I am coming around a little bit… Anyways, it was a really cool area and we think that if/when I ever go back to Railay, I will take ddefinitely go Ao Nang for a night too. When we finally got back to Railay we decided that it was time for the beach! After all, that IS what we essentially came for. Again, the beach was amazing and I actually even got to watch the sunset. Living in MB for the past 7 years, I never had a chance to watch the sunset, so it was really cool that in the mornings I could watch the sunrise and then at night could go to the other side and watch the sunset. Just really wish that I could have had all of you guys there to watch it with! At night was more of the same. More delicious and cheap food. More relaxing. More meeting new people and sharing stories. And more Mr. Sangsom.
The next day was more of the same. Relaxing at the beach, hitting up some new restaurants, and just really enjoying the vacation away from everything. Early in the night we decided to have a cocktail before dinner and struck up a conversation with a young British couple who were backpacking throughout Southeast Asia. They were really cool and we really hit it off with them. While we were talking to them, I heard this other couple behind me talking, but it wasn’t in English. But yet I thought, “wait a tick, I KNOW that language. That’s sounds like the mother language!” And sure enough, I started talking to this other couple and found out the they were from the Netherlands! Yeah! I immediately hit it off with them sharing stories about Rusk, working since we were 12, Whilemena mints, and size 16 feet
. Needless to say the 6 of us hung out for dinner and the rest of the night and really had a great time. We exchanged numbers at the end, and both couples are going to come back through to Bangkok through there journeys and are going to stay with us.
The next day, probably realizing that we hadn’t risked our lives or put ourselves in any great physical danger in a couple days, we decided to rectify that and hike up to a famous lookout point and Lagoon in Railay. Now depending on who you asked, they would tell you that this is the easiest climb in the world, or that K2 is a piece of cake compared to this. Either way, we figured we would give it a go. Well….we quickly realized that it was a bit more treacherous than we bargained for. But never the ones to turn away a death-defying challenge, we decided to climb the entire thing and see the lagoon and the lookout point. It was a great decision. The lagoon was beautiful. Never have seen anything like that before in my life. Just this huge crystal-clear lake in the middle of some mountains. And the lookout point was phenomenal as well. It allowed you to see both sides of Railay at the same time. We also made some monkey friends when we were at the lookout point, but they became a little too friendly and we decided that we may need to leave. Everything was fine at first, but then I started singing Boys II Men and they all started rushing towards me
. Probably for autographs but I wasn’t going to take the chance. Anyways the climb kicked our butts so we decided to take a much needed siesta on the beach. Now the entire week on the beach, all of these locals come up to us and tried to sell us food and beach mats and massages etc., and Lauren was begging for a pedicure. So of course, on the last day on the beach, sugar daddy bought her one. To be honest I didn’t care, because I had made best friends earlier in the week with a 9 year old boy who would constantly come around and try (successfully) to sell me beer. I think I put that kid through college when the week was over. He would always come to me about every 10 minutes and say “You want drink beer??” Yes son. Yes I do. Lauren and I watched the sunset at the beach and it was then another chance for us to hit up some of the restaurants that we had yet to go to, and ultimately just reflect on the week. While we were out and about the last night, and in Laurens relentless pursuit to get Hepatitis while she is here in Thailand, she decided to get a tattoo. Now tattoos actually originated in the South Pacific and the way they did it was to put a number of small needles on the end of a bamboo stick and then lightly tap the stick so that the ink-covered needles would just pierce the skin deep enough for the ink to get underneath. What fun huh! (As our stomachs turn). So Lauren decided that she wanted to get a tattoo of her name in Thai using that method. In the end, she said it didn’t hurt as bad, was real cheap (which I was all about), and it healed really well. I guess different strokes for different folks and I guess if you are to get a souvenir, that is certainly a way to go!
Early Thursday afternoon we reluctantly headed back to the airport and caught a plane back to BKK. We wanted to have a few days back in BKK before we had to go to work so that we could just relax and recover from our Railay trip
. And it was a good thing too. I don’t know if it was the millions of insect bites I got walking through the jungle or the $0.30 toliet curry that I ate during the vacation, but I was quite sick upon our return. Needless to say I was reminded of our journey to Railay for the next 3-5 days. It got me thinking that maybe I cant roll with the big dogs anymore? A wise person once told me that “you cant fly with the geese and expect to wake with the roosters.” Maybe I am just getting too old for this stuff. Naaaahh!
A great vacation to a beautiful location. It was certainly what we needed and we really feel that we maximized our time there. I spent a lot of time thinking about where I would go next if I came back to Railay and the surrounding islands and I certainly have quite the itinerary planned. Would anybody care to join me? First Sangsom and Coke is on me.
Thanks for reading and for thinking about us. We love you all so much.
L & Mr. S :-D :-D