Ladies and gentlemen, Thailand has finally crept its way up to my heart. Or, to be more apt, it rock-climbed its way.
My first glimpse of the Kingdom of Siam was Phuket, and although it was nothing to be scoffed at, a lot of things were too ‘in-your-face’ for me, and its beaches still left me wanting.
The first time I heard of this sweet-spot for scrambling up crags, I instantly knew it was an eventuality. It was just a matter of time of when I’ll score a promo flight to this weekend warrior’s haven. Finally, that time rolled around.
It was hard not to be instantly charmed by its tranquil countryside. As soon as you pulled out of the airport, limestone giants loomed over you, bidding you to ditch all your belongings and run for the
hills cliffs to start your getaway.
Now, friends will testify that if you leave me to plan for the lodging during trips, I’ll sure as hell try to convince you that hostels are the way to go. However, since you’ll be hard-pressed to snag better hotel deals than when in Thailand, I thought: Screw it, methinks I’ll pamper the needy baby in me for once. Vogue Resort and Spa was a great choice — with their uber-helpful staff, great location and value-for-money rates. Restos, salons and shops abound right outside the boutique hotel, and it’s also just a 10-minute walk from the Ao Nang beachfront. I deserved a cheapo-wanderer high five.
As soon as we settled into our crashpad, the transfer service from King Climbers came to whisk me away to the pier, as I made my way to Railay Beach with fellow Tom Cruise/James Franco-wannabes. I was the lone Asian in our rowdy band, but we were all in it together as our jaws dropped upon seeing the guides free-climb the rock face we were about to scale. Game. Is. On!
The guys from King Climbers are exactly the people you want to be in charge when your life literally hangs from a rope. Our guides were good-natured and funny, but were always alert and firm when they needed to be. Safety was obviously the #1 priority for them. Plus, they gave great tips whenever you were stuck on your way up (which happened too often for me =P).
The next day was tailor-made for island-hopping. After a day of overcast skies, the sun came out and made for perfect beachbum-weather. It was a good thing we staved off from pre-booking online: the tours peddled on Ao Nang’s side streets gave around 30-50% off on the same packages. The Andaman Coast will spoil you for choice for island havens and water sports. Since we already did the Phi Phi Island circuit before, we opted to check out Hong Islands, which promised a visit to a dreamy blue lagoon.
And simply perfect, the lagoon was. Our group waded in the chest-deep, blue-green crystalline water, in an ampitheater of lush trees growing along the sides of the limestone cliffs.
One of the perks of travelling during off-peak season is having the sights almost all to yourselves. We hopped from one beach to another, taking our time to snorkel, wade and sleep on the sand, as if it was the most natural thing to do every waking day.
Retiring to our digs after a long day of island-hopping (it was tough work! =P), we freshened up and sought out a good deal for a backrub. The service at the spartanly-named Massage Center along Moo 2 road was so good, I wanted to shower my masseuse with all the bahts I had left. Ahh, the ever-unapologetic brusque Thai massage, twisting your body in ways you never thought you could. Where would we be without it?
The nightlife in Krabi is the stark opposite of its more-known party neighbor, Phuket. Krabi was a place to unwind and recharge, to relish gorging on pad thai and pizza, to sip on one cocktail after another at rock-bottom prices. The Blue Water Cafe at Walking Street was a great nook to chill out — it was reggae music all the way. Perfect for a place like Krabi, which was all about uncomplicated good vibes all day.
2012-07 Krabi: Picasa Album
- Standard Room at Vogue Resort & Spa – THB 1550/day (~USD 49)
- Half-day Rock-Climbing Course by King Climbers – THB 1000 (~USD 31)
- Hong Island Day Trip with Barracuda Tours – THB 550/pax (~USD 17)
- 90-min Thai+Foot Massage package at Massage Center – THB 550 (~USD 17)
- One skewer at a random Ao Nang food peddler – THB 15 (~USD 0.47)
- One happy-hour cocktail at Blue Water Cafe – THB 90 (~USD 2.8)