Matt and Joanne’s Page

March 6, 2007

Notes from Thailand

Filed under: Climbing, Thailand — joannestamplis @ 11:04 pm

We left Malaysia for Phuket, Thailand on Saturday 2/24. Once we arrived at Phuket, we had to take a cab to a small town, Ao Nang. At first we planned to take a bus to Krabi to save some money. But neither of us speak Thai and people in Thailand don’t speak English nearly as well as in Malaysia so it was difficult to communicate our intended travel plans and try to figure out which bus station we needed to get to. So we decided it would cost more but would be way faster if we just paid the 2000 Baht (US$60) to take a cab instead.

I still think this is a much better option than to trying to juggle with the language barrier. The car ride took about 2 hours and was also an awful one for me because I get motion sickness very easily. Once we got to Ao Nang, we took a 15 minute ride on a long tail boat. The ride was pretty cool, dropping you off in the water right on the beach. Did I mention the views are out of this world?

Here is the view from the top of the Groove Tube. Tonsai Beach is in the foreground. Railey West Beach is visible in the background.

We didn’t do much on the first day since by the time we got to our hotel it was already past 7pm. We just walked around the hotel a little bit and went to bed early that night. Out of everything I forgot to bring, I forgot to bring my bathing suit 😦 I ended up buying a new swim suit from a shop on the beach. But it’s not as cheap as you might think: everything in Thailand has 2 prices; the local price and the farang (foreigner) price. My bathing suit costs 1000 Baht (~US$30) which I thought was quite a bit for a fake Louis Vitton swimsuit. But it was the only one that fit me: all the other swimsuits were for ‘big’ foreigners.

The next day we spent the morning climbing at the 123 wall. I think this was my favorite wall because the climbs are a little soft, not as steep as many of the other routes on the beaches, and the moves are just so fun.

In the afternoon we went over to Phra Nang beach. On the path to get to the beach, you wind your way for a few hundred yards next to an amazing limestone wall with fantastic stalactites and small caves right off the path.

Enjoying the trail on the way to Phra Nang Beach.

When we finally got to Phra Nang beach proper, our jaws just dropped. It quickly became our favorite beach and there’s a reason it has been called one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The streaking red limestone towers up and over the beach, providing relief from the sun. Floating on your back in the water you notice the innumerable stalactites, slowly dripping ever closer to the ocean. The water itself is just slightly cooler than the air and is so refreshing.

Phra Nang means “Princess Nang” in Thai and refers to a legend where a girl was apparently stranded here on this beach, cut off from the world and doomed to spend her years completely alone. Every year she drowns a man in the waters off the coast, or so the legend goes. The cave she lived in is right on the beach, with a shrine inside.

I don’t know about Princess Nang, but I might be able to spend the rest of my life here.

Joanne bought a snorkel and always snorkelled by the shore since she’s not brave enough to go further out so all she sees are little anchovies.

Another view of the Phra Nang beach. The cave system to the right of the beach makes for a fantastic place to explore. It even served as a lookout for the Japanese in World War II.

Even the view of the sunset on Phra Nang is beautiful.

Matt is poking his head (literally) into the caves on Phra Nang beach.

We decided to take it easy on the 3rd day in Thailand since we were still sore from all the climbing we did in Malaysia. We took the ferry back to Ao Nang and walked around the town, doing just a little shopping. We bought some local mangos which were really tasty; we were a little disappointed because there was not much selection: no durians, mangosteen, or rambutan. Later in the afternoon, we went back to Railay Beach and I went for a Thai massage which costs me 300 Baht (US$10) for an hour. The massage was really good but occasionally painful. I still enjoyed it because there’s no way I can get anybody else to massage me for $10 a hour in US 🙂

Here’s an interesting “massage” parlor. I hope this one is abandoned but I’m not sure…

As I walked back to the hotel from my massage I bought back a coconut as requested by Matt. Unfortunately Matt started to get sick later that night. It was probably something we ate, but we couldn’t figure exactly what it was. Matt said that was the first time he puked in 15+ years, since a bad run-in with Boboli pizza.

The next morning, I started to feel sick too. I couldn’t keep anything I ate (puked them all out) and Matt was still a little under the weather. For some reason, though, we decided to still go out climbing. We went to go climb on Tonsai Beach and ended up getting confused. The guidebook wasn’t very clear but we should have accessed the beach from Railey West, which was much easier than trying to get there from Railey East.

It was a hot day and by the time we arrived at the wall, we both sat down and just watched people climb. Matt wasn’t feeling strong enough to climb so I decided to boulder a little there. After 2 hours of sitting down, both feeling really lazy, we looked at each other and decided to walk back to our hotel instead. The walk back felt really long and painful. By the time we got back to the hotel, we went straight to bed and spent the whole day sleeping.

Some days are better spent relaxing!

After not climbing for 2 days, we were really ready to get out on Wednesday. Matt was back to normal at this point but I was still unable to keep down any food I eat. We went back to Tonsai beach and spent the day climbing on Tonsai, the Fire wall and Cobra wall. All the climbs at Tonsai beach are really steep and since I wasn’t feeling strong from not eating for 2 days, I didn’t climb anything cleanly, not even on toprope (so pathetic). Next we went to the Fire wall and finally found something easy, an amazing 5.8-ish route called the Groove Tube. The route follows its way up a very unique tube, carved out by water running down the wall. The route has huge holds and the moves are really fun.

Here is Joanne working her way up and into the Groove Tube.

After that we went to the Cobra wall and did a few more climbs there. The last climb Matt did was an 5.11a route, called Super Snake. Considering the grade, it was ridiculously steep. It was maybe 70-80 feet long but overhung by 30-40 feet. We watched a woman climbing this route and when she completed it on lead, she was like, “this climb is so awesome and isn’t really pumpy”. I was kinda skeptical about the not pumpy part just because it looked really really steep. Anyway, Matt led the climb and was having a lot of difficulty. He almost gave up on it and I wasn’t happy about leaving any gear so I told him to try it one more time. Finally he was able to grovel his way up to the anchors using aid and every dirty trick in the book. I wasn’t going to even attempt the route just in case I couldn’t complete it and Matt would have to climb it again to clean it. So I guess not every route in Thailand is soft.

Our last day of climbing in Thailand was Thursday. We spent this day by wandering up to the Thaiwand, a massive 400-foot pinnacle that dominates the views on the beach. Upon arriving at the base of the cliff we started gearing up when we discovered that I was missing a shoe. It wasn’t anywhere to be found: we thought maybe I left it at the Cobra Wall the day before. But that was a long way to walk to look for a shoe so we decided I would just climb with Matt’s much-too large right shoe. We only climbed a few routes along the base but Matt found one of his favorite routes here, a climb called Fit To Be Thai’d that wanders up a steep section of the rock on big handholds. And nothing but blue sea below your feet. We’ll have to come back and try one of the routes that reaches the summit: they look amazing!

Matt thoroughly enjoying himself on the Thaiwand.

So climbing a few routes in Matt’s shoe (which was a little hard since his foot is 4 sizes bigger than mine) we decided to look for my shoe. The tide was low so it was easier to get from Railey to Tonsai beach. We walked back to the Cobra Wall and sure enough, there was my shoe sitting at the base of Super Snake. Awesome!

To celebrate, we went kayaking! The kayaking was quite fun because we get to see every side of the peninsula from a different perspective. On the way back to our beach, I found a tunnel that we were able to kayak right through. Unfortunately the tide was low and our kayak got stuck and Matt broke his paddle when he tried to push his way out 😦 There goes another 1000 Baht.

Our own private beach on Happy Island. Joanne spotted a jelly fish in the water, though – watch out!

Joanne found a tunnel

2 mins after this picture is taken, Matt broke the paddle

There are dozens of islands off the coast of the beach, all wildly sculpted by the elements. Many of these might have some interesting climbing routes on them. As long as you’re willing to get a little wet!

On our last full day in Thailand we went spent the morning in a Thai cooking class, run by Miss Ya. In the class we first chopped up veggies (garlic, shallots, lemon grass, ginger, limes, etc.) and learned how to make several types of curry (red, green, Masaman, Penang). Then we learned how to use the curries to make 10 different dishes. After all the work (which was really quite easy) we got to eat everything, which was the best part. The secret ingredient in Thai cooking is, believe it or not, fish sauce. It’s used in basically everything. So is shrimp paste. Miss Ya gave us the inside scoop and said that even when vegetarians order, they still use these ingredients. So if you’re a vegetarian and have eaten Thai food, then you’ve probably inadvertently eaten meat products. Yummy.

Joanne decides to play around on the truck ride over to Miss Ya’s Cooking School…so safe…

Matt is choking back tears here as the smoke from the cooking overwhelms him.

Enough food to feed 10 people…all for Joanne….WAHAHA! It was a feast of truly epic proportions.

All in all, Thailand is truly a paradise for a climber. Hundreds of routes with super-easy access. Cheap food/lodging with amazing beaches and views.

Sunset on Railey Beach.


1 Comment »

  1. Happy holiday n krabi is a nice place

    Comment by June — May 14, 2013 @ 5:08 am

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