08.06.2017 - 15.06.2017
Despite the fact that Thailand is so close to Siem Reap, I just couldn’t find any decent Thai food there, so I really had no choice but to go back to Thailand, this time visiting the southern part of the country and islands.
My first stop was Ao Nang on the Andaman Sea side of the peninsula. I flew in at night, so when I woke up and saw the giant (granite?) cliffs right outside my hotel, it was a real surprise. The scenery here is just spectacular. I was lucky to get good weather almost the whole time, as it was technically the rainy season. And even though it was still kind of hot, due to the sea breeze it was not as stifling as Cambodia- a most welcome change!
My first afternoon I took a kayak trip across a bay and through some ravines. We stopped at an island that was covered with baby crabs and starfish and another place that had fish that walked on land- so prehistoric and odd to see fish footprints in the sand. It was a little overcast, but still a good day. In the pic below the little walking fish is at the top and his/her tiny footsteps near the bottom (mangrove stem for scale).
The next day I took a longtail boat snorkeling trip, and it was a bit of a letdown. The first two stops were at tiny beaches packed solid with tourists from the 20 other boats that also landed there. Apparently most of the passengers couldn’t swim so they just waded next to the shore, many wearing their life jackets for fear of drowning in less than 2 feet of water. Once I got passed the huddled masses, the water really was nice, but there was no reef, just a few sergeant majors swimming around- scrambling for open waters to get away from the tourists, I’m sure. I cannot imagine the mayhem during high season.
I amused myself by watching the Russian tourists- the women LOVE posing for photos and their men love taking them even more. Lots of props, art direction, re-shoots etc.- it was actually pretty entertaining.
The last beach of the day was much bigger and quite beautiful and the scenery during the boat ride was just gorgeous, so the trip was not a total loss.
The whole town of Ao Nang is rather touristy- lots and lots of souvenir shops and restaurants serving faux Thai, Indian and pizza. Thanks to my friend Ron’s recommendation, I found an authentic Thai restaurant and had my first bowl of real tom yum seafood since my last trip to Thailand. You know it’s good when you order medium spicy and it kicks your ass! Luckily there’s always plenty of ice cold Singha to cool everything down.
There are a couple of beautiful beaches near Ao Nang that are reached by longtail boat. You wade in to the ocean and just climb onboard. That’s all fine, but of course when I went it was high tide and the boat was really rocking, the waves were almost chest high and the long metal steering pole was careening all about just looking for heads to bash in. Nevertheless, I got on safely and we headed out. I met a nice guy from Portugal on that trip, quite fortuitous as I plan to be there in the fall and its always great to get local tips. We hiked all over the area and ended up on Railay beach, which was absolutely gorgeous.
I was laying in the sand near one of the big cliffs at Railay and out of a crevasse in the rock comes this very nasty 4 foot long monitor lizard. A minute later, a big black dog appears out of nowhere to fight the thing. They both ran off into the rocks, so I’m not sure who won, but it was an exciting chase.
I found some more good Thai food at the Krabi night market- lots of local people and home cooking. I’m not sure what I ate-some fish and noodle thing, but it was good, cheap and spicy!
I got a great deal on a room a bit closer to the beach for my last night, so I moved down the block. As I was lazing by my lovely new pool, I started thinking, hmmm, I don’t remember seeing my wallet when I packed up my stuff from the other hotel. I hide money and different credit and ATM cards in lots of nooks and crannies in my luggage so I can never pinpoint exactly where everything is at any given moment. Just to set my mind at ease, I went up to my room to look for it, checking the usual hiding places. Couldn’t find it. I tore apart my luggage throwing clothes willy nilly all over the room-still nothing. In a complete panic, I ran back to the other hotel and told the staff what was missing. We all went back to my old room, checked the little safe and sure enough, there it was, propped against the back wall of the box. YAY!!! It only took 3 hours and 2 beers for my heart to stop racing and my legs to un-noodle themselves. Feeling all happy, I went back to my room to repack all my stuff. As I got to the door, I had a weird thought that in my rush, had I even locked the door? I turned the knob, the unlocked door opened and the room was completely empty-not a piece of luggage or even a stray t shirt to be seen. #$#%%##!!!! Seriously???? Now I'm robbed??! I double checked the room number and discovered I was in the wrong freaking room-I had turned left at the elevator instead of right! Oh happy day! And yes, I know I am an idiot-how I’ve managed to travel the world without major mishaps so far (knock on wood) is baffling even to me!!
Anyway, Ao Nang was nice, but a bit Thai lite for my taste and a bit too touristy -however, the scenery was spectacular and the Andaman sea was beautiful.
Next up- Koh Samui