The Beaches, Thailand

The beaches were quite the change from our time in Bangkok and we were definitely ready for a relaxing 3 days.  There were plenty of destinations to choose from, from the party-all-night Phi Phi Islands, to the scuba paradise of Ko Lanta, and everything in between.  We found an awesome hostel in Ao Nang, outside of Krabi, and enjoyed every second of it.

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Our hostel was built by retired architects.  The view from our room was hammocks and a patio on the left and a hidden pool on the right.
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Ao Nang was very walkable and had a beautiful mosque that lit up vibrant colors at night.
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East Railay Beach

We spent a majority of our time laying on Railay Beach, a touristy, but bumping beach that is only accessible by water, as it is sandwiched with two large cliffs between Ao Nang and Krabi.  We took longtail boats from Ao Nang. We did not realize until half way through the day that there was a whole world of shops, bars, and open-air restaurants nestled in the back, so we spent a decent amount of time exploring those.  The best part is that you can walk to two other beaches from the location- East Railay and Phra Nang (Cave Beach).

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Stereotypical Thailand longtail boat picture
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View from a longtail boat going from Ao Nang to Railay
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Just a small section of the seemingly endless back alleys between the peninsula’s beaches
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Exploring the questionably rickety Diamond Caves

The first time we encountered a monkey was on a side path while by ourselves.  Mom was taking pictures of the impossible tangle of wires and I saw a monkey giving me the side-eye and had a miniature freak-out before I realized that he wanted nothing to do with me.  Pretty soon, there were gangs of them and they were living off of the tourists’ attention (and food).  There were monkeys everywhere, just like squirrels here!  Except that people do not let squirrels climb on them…  At one beach in particular, we had to keep careful watch over our beach bags, as the curious monkeys would shamelessly root through a poor person’s things.

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The next day, we decided to indulge in a half-day tour in order to have someone else take us island-hopping.  We met people from all over the world and were taken on a “4 Island Excursion with Snorkeling” even though we swear we signed up for a 5 Island tour with the travel agency…  We even had the pleasure of meeting some party-hardy 50 year old men from Switzerland who were happily drunk by 9 am (little did they know that I spoke German and understood exactly what they were saying, but that’s a story for later).  I even took part in the snorkeling part of the tour despite my random and completely irrational fear of fish.

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Mom was getting a kick out of the conditions of the trucks that carted us around.
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Proof that I swam surrounded by thousands of fish.  (Note my fetal position)
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You can order food straight from these longtail boats!!

Unfortunately the weather was not on our good side for these three days.  We traveled to Krabi for the weekend market and were met within 10 minutes with the worst downpour I have ever experienced- I was soaked to the bone in a matter of seconds!  So instead of wandering the streets, we holed up in a hostel lobby and met some backpackers in all stages of life.  It was also raining on our last day at the beaches, but it was kind of nice to relax mid-trip.

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Reaction

I have never heard so many languages in one place before, including many days spent in New York City.  Yes, of course there are more people on the beaches than seen in the utopian longtail boat pictures on the internet, but the people are what made the experience!  I have never had so much fun people-watching on a beach than I have on Railay and we met some pretty cool people in the process.  Also, longtail boats lining the jagged cliff islands landscape makes for an unbeatable view.  Unfortunately the rain prevented us from exploring more of the islands, but I am at peace with that now.  There are definitely quieter and more authentic destinations in the southern region of Thailand, but I was very happy with the lively atmosphere of the Ao Nang/Krabi area.

Good Eats

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Introducing Tom Yum Kung, a dish that I never finished because my face was about to fall off due to how spicy it was.  There was shrimp and various roots in it which I wish I could have finished.
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Mango smoothies were our favorite.  The mangoes were unlike anything we have ever had in the States.
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This green tea with milk was interesting, but I would be ok with not having it again.  However, I had an awesome iced green tea with lemon which was one of my favorites:)
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Pad Thai never failed, and it was made entirely differently at each place we had it.

Want to Visit the Beaches?

  • Do not forget your sunscreen and bug spray!  There is a small percentage of mosquito-borne illnesses in some areas, so this is not for being itch-free, but for your overall health.
  • Don’t leave food in your beach bag because the monkeys will shamelessly tear through your things to find it.
  • If you like spicy food, be warned that this is not Mexican spicy, but a whole other level.  If the food on the menu is labelled as spicy, run.  If it does not say it is spicy, ask to make sure, and if they respond, “umm a little”, proceed with caution because that is what they told me about the Tom Yum Kung soup.  If they say, “no”, then you are all set.  I learned how to say “less spicy please” in Thai and the cooks got a kick out of that.
  • Longtail boats 101- Buy a ticket from the nearby booth (The prices are usually set, so no need to bargain).  You can easily find your driver because they are usually yelling your destination out to the crowd.  Next, you will have to bend your body in the strangest of ways in order to heave yourself over the boat edge.  You will enter and leave the boat in water at least up to your knees.
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