You can’t fall if you don’t climb. But there is no joy living your whole life on the ground.
Air-Asia’s in-flight announcement woke me up.
The flight had touched down at Krabi Airport, a tiny complex situated around 30 kilometres from the Ao Nang beach, where I was going to spend the next couple of days. Public transport was easy to find from outside the Airport. I bought bus tickets to Ao Nang in 100 baht. The bus first went to the Krabi town, dropping people at their hotels along the way. Finally, it reached Ao Nang, stopped just in front of the Krabi Tipa Resort.
The resort staff was very polite and helpful. They offered me a welcome drink and upgraded my booking from bungalow to a spacious deluxe room. Then one guy escorted me to my room by an electric vehicle. The room was bigger, brighter and has an extended balcony, exactly the same way I wanted.
A hot water bath was necessary to get rid of the tiredness. With a fresh mood, I left to hunt a good restaurant along the Ao Nang Beach.
Ao Nang Beach
30 August 2017
Just five minutes walk from the Krabi Tipa resort can take you to the Ao Nang Beach. This one-kilometre promenade was lined by colourful shops and many tempting restaurants. Yet life felt peaceful here. One can simply sit on the beach and hear to the sound of waves. I found a quiet place near a huge fish statue along the promenade.
While looking for a place to have dinner, I stopped by an Indian restaurant. I met some guys from Myanmar, and to my surprise, they were speaking Hindi very fluently even though they don’t have any real connection with India. Their company helped me to taste some delicious Thai food while listening to the stories about their parents leaving Burma and settling here.
On my way back to the resort, I bumped into some party places, but I was so tired to enjoy the vibe. So, I came back to my colonial styled resort and dozed off.
Only in the morning, I could see the location of this peaceful resort amidst the lush greenery. The outdoor swimming pool was alluring, but I had no time for that. I took bath inside and I went for the breakfast area to eat Chicken Ham, steak and Grape Juice.
Ao Nang has plenty of options for street shopping complemented by tasty Thai cuisines.
31 August, 2017
Public Transport seemed difficult and confusing in Krabi. No frequent buses available and Uber or Grab Taxi didn’t exist at all.
After a little enquiry with locals, I got a small transport vehicle along the beach. The driver was very friendly & surprisingly he was a big fan of Sholay movie. He was talking in his broken English while driving to Tiger Cave. It cost me 150 baht to reach the foothills but that ride showed me the Karbi town, Pier and bus terminal. It was worth it in that sense.
The broad road leading to the beautiful arc has some small shrines, colourful sculptors and monkeys along the way. Right away, I started climbing 1237 stairs which seemed nothing at first. I climbed half of them without even stopping and that was my biggest mistake. I got tired quickly and then it became harder to push myself upwards. I had to take multiple breaks.
On the way, I met a few people, from Spain, Germany, Taiwan. Their energy level and humour made my journey a bit easier and memorable. Slowly we all made it to the top. The steep stairs made it a little difficult than I expected, but I made it to the top in a reasonable time.
I was all sweaty and exhausted to get to this point but the views were rejuvenating.
The breathtaking vista from the top of Tiger Cave Temple was worth the hard work & pain.
Tiger Cave Temple
In 1975, one Vipassana monk named Jumnean Seelasettho came to meditate in these caves. He witnessed tigers roaming around the caves, hence it is named as Wat Tham Sua. Now the temple and viewing platform is constructed at an elevation of 278 meters. The surrounding view has limestone cliffs covered in tropical rain forest trees.
The giant golden Buddha statue, gleaming in bright sunlight, was overlooking the Krabi town ahead. There was a huge pagoda. Many small Buddha statues. But one statue left me baffled. Then I realized that our Ganapati Bappa also has international fan followers.
In Thailand, Lord Ganesha, also known as Phra Phikanet is worshipped as the deity of fortune, success and the remover of obstacles. There are numerous Ganesha shrines and statues across Thailand. The four hands of the idol were adorned with colourful threads and bracelets.
While coming down, in haste, one of my legs got cramped. That slowed me down and made it hard to descend. When I got down, I ate chicken to compensate for the amount of energy I exhausted to climb up and down the tiger cave temple.
Tiger Cave Temple offers spectacular views of the surrounding limestone cliffs, ample photo opportunity and a moment to pray for peace in front of the giant Buddha.
Running in Between
Rock Climbing session was planned in the afternoon. For that, I had to be at my resort before 1 pm. But I was not sure to make it on time, as I couldn’t see any bus in the parking. The car would have cost me 600 bahts for just 20 kilometres. I was getting anxious as the time was running out before I hopped onto a motorbike which dropped me at Krabi Bus station for 50 bucks. From there I got a very slow bus to Ao Nang beach.
Within 20 minutes, I took a quick shower, changed and came back to the lobby. Exactly at 1 pm, one boy came to pick me up, with a modified version of Auto Rickshaw. Actually, it was a normal motorbike carrying a bigger framework to accommodate more passengers.
Real Rocks climbing centre had a small climbing wall for practice, on which few people were trying their hands on. I had to do some little paperwork, then they handed me over a bag with harness, helmet, powder pouch and climbing shoes. I grabbed a pair of bananas from reception before getting into the vehicle, which took us to the nearby pier. I met some Indian guys from Delhi who were heading to Railay beach for Rock climbing only.
A longtail boat left the Ao Nammao Pier, sailed for half an hour and docked to the Floating Pier on the east Railay beach. The thickly vegetated limestone cliffs were looking spectacular from the sea. I was thinking about how to climb one of these vertical crags.
Hotel pick-up and drops were applicable to all the bookings I made in Krabi, which proved vital given the condition of the rare public transport.
Top Rope Rock Climbing
The main purpose to visit Krabi was to get my hands onto the world famous limestone cliffs.
The overhangs at Railay Beach are considered as climbers paradise. A small walk around the East Railay Beach took us to the rock climbing site. At first, the height and gradient looked horrible, but slowly I was preparing my mind to take on that fear.
Once the rope was fixed several feet high, I was first one to get ready with climbing boots, chalk bag and helmet. They fixed a harness around my waist. GoPro was strapped around my wrist. The instructor had given quick instructions about how to make better use of hands and legs while climbing. I learned to belay and climbing techniques, how to use equipment and safety measure.
The first climb itself was somewhat difficult. With a little bit of struggle, I made it to the top where the first rope was tied. Top rope climbing is nothing but a climbing where the rope which is attached to the top. The guy below will control the rope to prevent you from falling.
I did first climb, then second. Mostly all of from my team members climbed for a single time. Later, they left to explore Railay Beach but I stayed back for my third big climb. The instructor took me to the other more challenging location and refused to guide me during my climb. He left me to struggle on my own.
As I go up, the pressure on my hands and legs became unbearable. At one point, I couldn’t get hold on to any Rock notches. Then I realised that I was done with Rock Climbing. I took some photographs and signalled my instructor to belay me. After getting down, he congratulated me.
Later I went to explore the Railay beach & decided to go back to Ao Nang on my own.
“Do it for your country” was not inspiring enough when my muscles refused to keep going on the halfway of the vertical rock-face.
Railay West is the main port of Arrival on this beautiful peninsula, but I landed on the east side. This 600 meters long beach has soft sand lined by the chain of restaurants and resorts. The view of the surrounding cliffs of various shapes and sizes is outstanding. The speedboats and longtail boats were floating lazily on the turquoise blue water.
The sun was still hot and well above the horizon. That means I had enough time to explore a few touristy places there. First on the list was a Princess Cave. On Railay, there are no roads, only small walkways. I walked to the cave, intrigued by the view.
Phra Nang Princess Cave, situated on the Railay East, is famous for its wonderful stalactites and stalagmites. From ancient times the fishermen, before going out to sea, made offering to the symbolic Phallus of Shiva. They say, the cave is home of mythical sea princess & their offerings will bring them luck and protection. It is a little bit weird to see the large collection of carved wooden phallic symbols.
The beach in front of Princess Cave was good for swimming. People were having fun, bathing and snorkelling under the limestone overhang. I stayed a little bit and headed back to the Railay Beach to get the last boat for Ao Nang beach. Meanwhile, I sat on the beach drinking Mango Juice while waiting for the boat.
Pristine beaches, soaring cliffs and laidback vibe, Railay has everything to fall in love with.
When Sun Goes Down
One longtail boat from Railay West dropped me to the Ao Nang beach before sunset. That 15 minutes scenic ride came to a funny end. Due to high tide, we had to get down into the waist level water and walk towards the beach.
Quickly I packed my camera and other electronic devices into a backpack. Then carefully I got down and walked to the shore. With wet pants, I was waiting for the Sunset.
The setting sun had sprayed its colourful rays on the vast canvas of horizon. Along with the incessant waves, everything was going to merge into the darkness soon. I like such moments which strikes the right emotional chords and bring beautiful memories back. I decided to stay for a while before going back to my hotel room.
The day was very hectic, from the Tiger Cave Hiking in the morning to the Rock Climbing at Railay in the evening. I took a long steam bath and dropped myself on the cosy bed. I was in no mood to go out on the Beach for dinner, so I just went to a restaurant in my resort itself. I ordered some Thai Food and sought help from the waitress who didn’t know English. She was making some funny gestures for the English words she couldn’t find.
Anyway, it was fun to have a little humour at the end of the day.
We never know how strong we are, until Being Strong is the only option we got.