Monday, December 24, 2012

Krabi to Koh Pha-Ngan, Koh Tao

Krabi to Koh Pha-Ngan, Koh Tao

Late afternoon I hopped aboard a boat from Koh Phi Phi to Krabi. On the boat I met a Dutch couple - they were planning to stay in Krabi for a few days to check out the local beaches, which is what I had in mind. I've had enough of the party crowd and crowds altogether. Krabi is a town that most people pass through on their way to or from Koh Phi Phi. We shared a taxi with another Croatian traveler and we all stayed in the same hotel. It's really amazing how complete strangers connect when they are abroad. These folks were cool, laid-back, and fun. I wish making friends on home turf was this easy.

Food Etiquette

We found a fantastic restaurant run by a French/Thai couple in Krabi. The food was AMAZING. I ordered a dish sans rice, which was unacceptable by the Thai wife. Apparently a Thai meal is not complete unless there is rice or noodles and so I ordered a small bowl of rice. I also learned that you cradle your fork in the spoon to signal that you are finished. When eating in a local's home or with locals it is a good idea to leave a little rice on your plate. If your plate is completely clear then they'll think you're still hungry and keep feeding you. Lastly, you eat rice with a spoon (totally logical because it's easier than a fork) and noodles with chopsticks.

Krabi Beaches

So we're off to the beaches in songthaew (truck with benches) and scenery was stunning. Limestone karst sprouting from the earth, covered in green from the forests, towering a couple of hundred feet. I understand now why the Krabi area is popular with rock climbers. The beach is surrounded by karst and they rise from the sea too. The local beaches weren't as pristine but it was quiet and peaceful - perfect for a Koh Phi Phi decompression.

Koh Phan-Ngan

The Dutch couple and I decided that an island resort would be good move. We were told about the resort Haad Gruad, which featured a picturesqu seaside bungalows and infinity pool. To get there is a 5-hour journey to the Gulf of Thailand, then a 2-3 hour catamaran to Koh Pha-Ngan's pier, followed by a hour in a songthaew. Well, the bungalows are tiny, which is fine because I spend most of my time in the water and on the beach. Next I discovered that swimming wouldn't be possible because the beach is rocky. So that's why they have a pool, but the pool is littered with passed-out and sunburned still-drunk-from-the-night-before British kids. That's it, I'm out of here.

Later in the evening I met a An island expat who suggested I check out the next beach over called Haad Salad, and he offered to give me a lift over there the next day. I found this place called My Way, which was exactly what I wanted...everything My Way. Within minutes I had a bungalow just a few steps from the jaw-dropping turquiose sea. The crescent shaped white sand beach was glorious with swaying palms, rustic bungalows and handful of higher-end resorts lining the beach. The water was warm, clear, and perfect for snorkeling. This is where I would stay for a week either in a hammock, in the sea, or on the beach. Paradise found.

Getting Down on Koh Tao

Koh Tao was my next stop. This is a small island near Koh Pha-Ngan and it's known for scuba diving and getting certified for much less than anywhere else. Being that I'm already certified I just wanted to do a shark whale dive. And don't you know it - it's not shark whale season. On Koh Tao I met some other solo-traveling women from the United States and the Netherlands. We also met a group of guys from South Africa and Britain. We were all complete strangers but within a day or so you would've thought we'd known each other for years. Each day we ate lunch or dinner together, snorkeled, shared drinks at the beachside bars, danced on the beach, cruised around in songthaews looking mini golf, or scarfed down 7-11 toasties and banana pancakes at 3am. Unfortunately everyone else needed to continue the journey home and I needed to figure out my next move.

Since I've grown tired of banana pancakes I think I'm ready for a little off-the-beaten-path low key action.

Next boat: Chumpon, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and love in Pai.