I woke up figuring I would go to Railay for rock climbing before heading elsewhere for some scuba diving but destiny, or rather indecisiveness, has a way of altering plans. I bought the ferry ticket to Railay and continued to punch away at my iPad in search of possible scuba trips that might fit into my budget yet still worth it as a growing fan of diving. The morning began early due to dorm rooms doing what they do. In this case, most everyone woke up early for whatever reason and started chatting away as if it were the middle of the day. Since the slightest chirp will wake me up, I was wide awake earlier than I would have preferred. Eventually I stumbled across a scuba trip that seemed to good to be true: three days, two nights, and a total of nine dives, all for a reasonable price to the kinds of dive sites I wanted to see. I booked the trip and paid the deposit for the trip. With the live-aboard boat departing in two days, I needed to change my ferry ticket. I managed to get the ferry route altered to Krabi, where I would need to find onward transportation to Khao Lak on the coast of the Andaman Sea and the closest launching point for the Similan Islands. While eating with my German friends for breakfast, I took a peak at my email and found that the trip had in fact been booked fully already. My perfect last night plan blew up in my face and so I had to go back to the same Thai man and change my ticket once more. My head kept spinning from the constant, throughly exchanging change of plans. I tried booking the trip for March 1st hoping the last available spot in the boat would still be available: fingers crossed. Time passed as we relaxed near the cerulean waters before we needed to depart on our separate paths. Making friends while traveling is so easy but they leave your lives all too quickly, especially when you know you may never see them again. At the same time, I have enjoyed keeping in touch with other travelers, whether through pictures or messaging to see how they lives and journey are going. While they left for Krabi, I took a boat to the warm waters, steep cliffs, and quiet beaches of Railay. Railay surprised from the moment I first laid eyes on it. The main beach is lined on its sides with the same karst rocks as that of Koh Phi Phi but has more depth and a sense of flair with more of the cliffs jutting randomly in disarray but finding unity all at once. First things first, I needed a place to rest my head for the night since I was already behind the eight ball arriving on the last boat in Railay. Hearing that accommodation was booked or far too expensive for the solo traveler (a clear negative for the singular traveler that no one could argue), I found on a short hillside just off the road a few tents and a crazy, desperate idea came to mind. A tent was in fact available at 150 baht (cheap for Railay but hellish conditions for that price) so I had no choice but to accept my fate when I have a budget to keep. The only thing getting me through this and other less than stellar situations is the fact that I continue to tell myself that this will make for a good story. Bloody hell! When I left New Zealand, I figured the tent life was behind me. On the way back towards the main walking street (more like a dusty, sandy pathway), I found several macaque monkeys chilling out sucking on some fruit that they managed to scrounge up. Along the way, I found several caves carved into the main rocks with ladders leading to their entrances (a curiosity that I must later explore). After eating some spicy Thai food, which is like saying a Chang beer is delicious when we all know it is inherently true, I headed to the beach to see a marvelous sight: the setting sun about to find itself enveloped by the far reaching horizon. The sun glowed a deep orange like a fully lit jack-o-lantern casting the only light in sight on all hallow’s eve. Its lasting rays dispersed into sharp hues of purple, red, yellow, and gold as a campfire would while it shook and waved with oncoming gusts. By now, Railay had turned quite dark yet I still needed to reach the other side of the big rock that cut in two the family side of Railay (where I happened to stay) and the more backpacker convene of Tonsai Bay. On the other side of this rock stood the rock climbing shop I hoped to book a climb with for tomorrow morning so I had no choice but to make this happen. I followed two Hungarians through the dark across boulders and jagged rocks all while holding onto the rope that grounded the less coordinated. With each step I took and as each minute passed, I began to wonder more and more how on God’s green earth I would get back myself. Somehow I made it to the other side unscathed. Eventually I booked a half day morning tour with the shop (tomorrow I could decide if I wanted to complete the full day, or rather let my depleted muscles decide). After exploring Tonsai Bay, I would compare it to a quieter, sandy version of Pai with similar tones of hippiness and chill bars minus the dread locks. With that behind me, I needed to get back to the Railay side before I realized how stupid it would be retrace my steps across the rock and rubble of that overpass once more. With a small light illuminating from my iPod, I looked for the place to rejoin the trail but no luck came my home. Staring up at clear rock face and a rat’s nest worth of timber, I retreated to the shore wondering ‘what should I do?’ The tide was low so I took my chances through the shallow water and still muddy track of the many rocks before me. I slipped on more than enough rocks throwing off my balance yet somehow I would a way to stay upright. If anyone could have seen me in that timeframe, I would have looked like a drunken marionette whipping my arms and legs through violent movements. Despite the uncertainty of returning to the other side with my skull fully intact, the sea-bound route treated me much better. The rest of the night meant relaxing on the beach with the stars and soft ripples of the returning sea entertaining me while delaying the fact that I would be sleeping in a tent for the night. No longer was I in the land of fire shows and blasting electronic music (aka Koh Phi Phi), which I am quite content with but frankly I miss my German friends amongst the many other travels I have met while on the road. Still quite early in the night but with nothing more to keep me entertained, I left the beach and took the long, slow walk to my tent. I walked hesitantly, leary of any macaque monkeys readying for a surprise attack on an unsuspecting American. The tent was as bare bones as a tent can get. It probably rested on some slab of rock and the only comforts that lay within were a yahthami (a thin thatched piece of mat). By now, I had gotten quite sweaty from traipsing my way to Tonsai and back and to my chagrin, the “reception” (loosely termed word) was closed so I had no idea where or how I could take a shower. Into the tent I went, sweat and all, hoping for some hard earned sleep with my rolled up shower towel acting as a pillow. The only company I had in this quote unquote campsite was some Thai guy that didn’t speak a lick of English and played some of his tunes well into the night. Sweet dreams!
Thailand Day 74: Round and Round It Goes, Where Anthony Stops Nobody Knows