Monday, 19 August 2013

Krabi and around: Wat Tham Sua, Railay Beach and monkey business.

The main challenge of hiring a scooter for the day isn't pulling out our best bartering skills to get a good price nor is it not freaking out on the roads that you share with cattle, motorbikes, cyclists, trucks, tuk tuks, songthaews, taxi vans, goats and the odd occasional car. 

We quickly discovered its finding a helmet that fits. A standard Thai head isn't quite a XXL Western size. Luckily the friendly guy at the rental shop offered to make 'good use' of the hammer he had clasped in his left hand. We turned down his offer with a smiling face and I instead enjoyed playing big sister and pushing the helmet down with a single bang of my fist. 

You could definitely spend a few days in Krabi as there is plenty to explore in the area. 

An English girl we had struck up conversation with the night before had recommended visiting the Tiger Cave Temple. Also known as Wat Tham Sua, there are a few legends around how the area received its name. We heard that a monk used to meditate in a cave that was once occupied by tigers. But then reading about the area it also says that tigers used to live in the cave. Today a marble facade has been built alongside the cave. We were able to walk up into the main shaft of the very modern day looking cave and to try and spot the tiger paw print that is meant to be still visible today. Our luck wasn't with us but instead we listened to a group of monks praying.

A 'casual' stroll up 1,237 steps will reward you with the ultimate view of the area and ocean beyond. The sad thing was spotting the increasing spread of Palm oil plantations in the area.  
Walking up the very steep staircase, through monkeys desperate for a banana (or anything that they can grab off you), each step felt like a climb up Everest. I wouldn't recommend doing this in the middle of the day....

Each time we felt slightly higher than before I couldn't stop thinking, how the hell did they ever construct this? Especially the 278m Buddha statue at the top. Standing about 600m above sea level. Just quietly I think for a mere 5 seconds standing up there, admiring the view below, covered in sweat, we felt like gods. 

You can get slightly off the beaten path in the area. We soon felt that way stumbling upon a Thai wedding taking place with so much pink and white. We weren't invited in for dancing during the reception so moved on towards the water.

Jumping into a longboat, Railay Beach was our next destination. I've read so much about this place and had high expectations of seeing the palm lined beach with soft white sand. I think coming to Thailand in the low season your able to get more of a idea into the real Thailand. That is the version where the beaches aren't constantly maintained and you can see the more rugged side. Wading through water on the Eastern side my first impression was how built-up the area has become over time. Palm trees now fight for space with the resorts. To access the beach on the Western side you walk through the concrete jungle of resorts. You wouldn't necessarily believe the area is still only accessible by boat because of how developed it has become. But one thing that still remains and gives the area such spectacular beauty is the limestone cliffs that hug the bay. Rock climbers have also taken up residence here so it's pretty wicked to watch the die hard climbers scaling the cliffs. 

I think the monkeys in Railay still stake their claim of ownership. We were sitting enjoying a cold drink waiting for the boat back to the mainland. Chilling and chatting about how amazing our day had been. Some people sitting next to us had already had a few branches and berries thrown down in the direction of them from the monkeys fighting overhead. We laughed about how cheeky they were and continued our conversation. Next minute I felt water drip on my sunglasses and down my arm. Tim felt it too. We both looked up at the same time expecting to see grey clouds poking through the trees. Instead we stared up at a monkey relieving himself on top of us. 

I won't extend my huge gratitude to the local who was watering his garden on the way home and accidentally let his hose pour itself over the road, giving us a rinse down of fresh water.

No more monkey business please.

Toodle pip x

Views from the scooter ride. 
Tiger Cave Temple.

A sign of welcoming.... only a few steps to the top.

Wat Tham Sua.

Cheeky monkey.

View from the top.

Standing proud at 278m tall. 

Railay Beach.

Railay Beach.

View from the longtail.

'The Captain.'