Friday, 18 March 2016

Travelling Southeast Asia: Krabi, Thailand

Following our seven day stint on the Thai islands, we headed to Krabi Province on the mainland for four days before catching our flight to Cambodia. It was a fairly short ferry from Ko Phi Phi to Krabi, which cost around £5 each. This conveniently also included a free transfer into Krabi Town once we got there. 

For the duration of our stay in Krabi, we stayed in Boss and Bens Guesthouse in the town centre, as though many people choose to stay in the beach areas, we wanted to visit other things just outside Krabi Town, having just spent the last week on beaches. The guesthouse was very basic, with shared showers, but it was ideal for what we needed. It wasn't the cleanest place we had stayed, but it was completely bug free, which kept me happy. Plus, the guy who ran it was super friendly and helpful, and it was our cheapest accommodation so far. 

We'd had a few tiring days travelling and were anticipating some busy ones in Krabi, so we spent our first afternoon finding some food and hiding from the heavy downpour. In the evening we ventured out to the night market in a square, which was really tiny, but had some great food stalls and live music. 

Krabi Town was already very different to the Thailand we had experience on the islands; it was mostly made up of concrete buildings and the roads were set up in blocks, giving it a city-like feel. It was also the first place on our trip that we saw cockroaches, but definitely not the last...

On our first full day we headed to Railay, which is supposedly home to the best beach in Thailand. After an amazing breakfast at May and Marks we went to get a long boat to Railay. We were messed around a little by the people running the boat service, as they told us they had other people coming to join us on the boat, which we found out was an outright lie 45 minutes later, when no one had turned up and we were told we would have to pay the price for a whole boat. After some protestation, they miraculously phoned another boat full of people to pick us up, meaning that the return journey cost £11 for the both of us. The other catch was that you had to agree as a boat what time to return back to Krabi Town. 

Once we arrived we walked over to Phranang Beach, which was a long, narrow and extremely overcrowded beach. We weren't convinced that it was our favourite beach in Thailand, and we'd only visited a few prior to here...

It rained on and off all morning and afternoon, and after we'd grabbed some food, we spent our final hour on Railay West Beach, where we wished we'd spent the whole day. It was a much more spacious beach, and the water was clearer, shallower and free of boats. 

Our boat ride back was very bouncy and the engine sounded like it could blow up at any point, so I spent that 45 minutes convinced those were our final moments alive. You will all be relieved to know, of course, that we survived the journey, and made it to a hostel called Hometel for that evening's meal back in Krabi Town.  

We deliberated for a while with what to do the following day. There were a few places we wanted to visit, such as the Tiger Temple, some hot springs and Emerald Pool, and although there were a lot of day-trips that took you to all three, they cost about £50 for the two of us, i.e. a whole day's budget. Rather than go without food and accommodation for a day, we decided to hire a car and drive ourselves to these places, which was only £20 for 24 hours. For some bizarre reason I was designated driver, and had to get behind the wheel of a Toyota Vios - the biggest vehicle I had driven, after the campervan in America of course. 

There were a few things to see at Tiger Temple, but what sticks to mind is the excruciating pain of climbing 1300 steps up the side of a mountain to the temple at the top. If you still think I'm exaggerating about the pain, let me add the minor details of the 35-degree (Celsius) heat and the fact that a lot of the steps were the height of half the length of my body. On the way back down the mountain a monkey decided to jump on my back to hitch a ride. As you can probably imagine, I wasn't too impressed. And neither was Tom when another monkey attempted to steal his drink at the bottom. However, there were also some ridiculously cute puppies which I followed around until Tom dragged me back to the car. 

It was then time to drive another 40km to the hot springs, which has a £4 entry fee. I'd never experienced hot springs before and it was quite unbelievable how naturally hot the water was. You are only supposed to spend a maximum of half an hour in the water for safety reasons, so we pretty quickly moved on and drove over to the national park to find the Emerald Pool, which was another £8 fee. 

Also in this park was the Blue Pool; a small collection of water in the middle of some woods that looked like something out of a fairytale book. We had a little swim back at the Emerald Pool, but it was very noisy and full of huge groups, and sadly the underwater camera managed to fill with water, meaning we couldn't use it for the rest of our travels. Luckily the memory card remained  uncorrupted!

Pretty soon after this is poured with rain, so we drove the hour back to Krabi Town and had some food at an Italian restaurant called Cucina, which was a little above our budget but so worth it. There's just nothing like pasta when you're craving carbs and can't face another meal of rice or noodles. 

For our final day in Krabi we got the bus to Ao Nang, a popular beach area about 45 minutes from the town centre. Although it took us a while to figure out how to get this bus, as it turns out they are pick-up trucks with benches and a makeshift roof. Ao Nang seemed like quite a typical beach town, and it was the first place where we were constantly approached by vendors whilst lying on the sand. The scenery was beautiful, as in most of Thailand, but I wasn't too keen to swim in the sea in this particular location as it was quite murky, and very unlike the crystal-clear waters from the likes of Ko Lipe. 

I'm glad we saved a few days to spend in Krabi before heading to Cambodia, as I loved the day we had with the car, and it was really interesting to see how mainland beach areas compared to those of the more remote islands.

I also vlogged our stay which gives an even better impression of Krabi, so give that a watch and subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss the vlogs from the rest of the trip!


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