The kayak tour on Sunday afternoon appeared to have almost exclusively Asian participants at first until Inna arrived on a separate bus. Born originally in Odessa, Ukraine, she now lives in Berlin and spends a 2w holiday in Thailand. We shared a kayak and took in the scenery together. Enjoyable views and conversation as we paddled along.
After the tour I relocated to Krabi town and made it to the guesthouse just in time before all floodgates opened and it rained heavily. I didn’t manage to do much more than a brief dinner and a call with Alex before getting to bed. I was dead.
Krabi town: Come here to get a more local experience as tourists & locals mingle, enjoy the food market (big night market on weekends), visit the Kaewkorawaram temple and stroll along Krabi river. As in Aonang, you can connect here to surounding islands & start daytours.
Inna and I met up the next day and headed for Railey beach. While this beach is not located on an island, it can only be reached by boat (THB150 one way). There you can visit caves, enjoy nice beaches (though they were busy), do rock climbing & caving (not for us as Inna nursed a twisted ankle & I a broken toe) as well as some rather adventurous hiking to one of the many viewpoints (note of caution … difficult path!).
So who is Phra Nang? There are different theories about Phra Nang and how she came to be associated with this particular cave in Krabi. One legend says that an Indian princess was killed in a shipwreck offshore and her ghost occupied the cave. Another story says that Phra Nang was the wife of a local fisherman. One day her husband set out to sea but never returned. According to this story, the woman lived out the rest of her years living in the cave and looking out to sea waiting for her husband to come back.
Good Luck Offerings: Fishermen and boatmen still make offerings in the form of incense and flowers to ensure a safe journey. More curious though, are the phallic symbols or lingams that are in prominence at the entrance to the cave (pictured). Lingams are a symbol of the Hindu god Shiva and are associated with fertility and virility. In Thailand, Hindu and animist beliefs are incorporated alongside Buddhism. Over the centuries, Phra Nang cave has become associated with fertility and the lingams placed here take the form of carved wooden penises. Local folklore says that if somebody carves a wooden lingam and releases it at high tide anywhere along the Krabi coast, it will eventually end up in Phra Nang cave.
By the time I got home in the evening I was shattered. Too much fresh air, too much hiking and way too much sun. I got myself a take away pizza, booked a ticket to Khao Sok National Park for the day after and went to bed. So tired again. I am getting old man …
My trip south to Krabi was not entirely of my own making, but a good location to meet my good friend & former Morgan Stanley colleague Ioana. She works in Singapore nowadays and jetted over for the weekend. My journey from Koh Phangan was a straightforward 4,5h boat & ferry combo (seemingly as much time as Ioana needed to clear immigration ;o).
We actually didn’t stay in Krabi town, but rather Aonang (the main tourist hub) some 15km to the west. While there was much to catch-up about, we didn’t last too long on Friday and retired fairly early after a brief look around town, some (Indian) food and a bit of live music. I really loved the aircon, a hot shower and nice bed linen in our ‘kokotel oasis’ hotel after three weeks in a very basic bamboo hut on Koh Phangan. Sleep tight!
For Saturday we decided on a day trip to the Koh Phi Phi islands by speedboat. It wasn’t straightforward to locate the boat, but worked out eventually. The whole trip (THB2600, lunch/water included) is pretty scenic, gets you to a few different islands and involves some snorkelling too (well, for those that brought their swimsuit). The typical 8hour tour includes stops at monkey beach, maya bay (featured in Leonardo Di Caprio movie “the beach”), viking cave (locals collect swallow nests here), lunch at Phi Phi Don, Bamboo island and Pileh Bay (beautiful lagoon ).
Not sure it’s really good value for money, but given we had done little research beforehand it was a good choice to spend the day. I even got my Russian homework done while we hopped from island to island … puhhh. Initially we thought to just take the ferry to Koh Phi Phi (much cheaper), but unless you go there only to hang out on the beach or to stay there it’s not advisable in my view.
After some ok-ish Thaifood in a family restaurant, Ioana managed to get her Thai massage (a steal for anyone knowing Singapore price levels at ca USD10 per hour) while I enjoyed some good live music in one of the many pubs / bars in Aonang. I kept wondering though where the Thai people were given there were mostly tourists around (which I found reasonably annoying to be frank).
Sunday was already the last day for Ioana in Thailand (though she will be back shortly with her family up North in Chiang Mai). We went down the cultural route and visited the Tiger Cave Temple involving your typical temple buildings, a jungle trek and (for me at least) a 1,200 step hike to a viewing point. The steps are very steep (think of a staircase in a Dutch canal house) and together with the heat make for a good work out. There is free drinking water at the top.
And so quickly time was up! Ioana jetted off to the airport while I made my way back to the hotel for my Russian skype class and pickup for the sunset kayaking later in the afternoon.