Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Rock Climbing in Paradise: Krabi, Thailand

I'm actually not hanging loose but belayed to a cliff.
Picture celebrating New Year's Eve on a Thai beach: a few revelers on a remote beach lighting lanterns and watching them fly into the dark night. That's what we wanted, so we went out to Krabi, one of the less touristy Thai islands. Like all the Thai islands, it's a gorgeous backdrop with white sand beaches and is a very doable boat ride to other islands for exploration. Plus, it's known for tremendous rock climbing for all skill levels, and we had some friends who highly recommended it. Plus, as another friend mentioned, when you're out there, they all kind of look the same, so it doesn't matter where you spend most of your time - it will still be breathtaking.

We spent 5.5 days in Krabi, including New Year's Eve, and hopped to other islands like Ko Phi Phi. Krabi is the capital of southern Thailand's Krabi province. Total resort town, just not as developed as Phuket and Ko Phi Phi. Here's the Krabi, pronounced "kruh-bee" not "crabby," breakdown:

West Railay Beach with long-tail boats ready for action. 

Railay Beach to the east. The difference between low tide and high tide is significant.

Near Railay Beach, there are really only two streets. Bird's eye view of some restaurants from a 2nd-story bar.

We did family style at every local Thai restaurant we ate at so that we could maximize our dishes. Fresh seafood off the grill. It was good, but looked better. Mangrove Restaurant was our favorite, Everything was cheap, but be prepared to wait. Thai island time is on another level of slow.

Can't sleep because of jet lag and wake up early, you get the beach to yourself. In the afternoon, this would be all under water. Notice how far from shore the long-tail boats are anchored.

In honor of the late king, no lanterns were allowed to be lit or flown on the island (assuming the country, as well), so we ended up at our hotel, the Sand Sea Resort's New Year celebration, which included an impressive all-you-can-eat feast of world cuisine. The show was pretty touristy, but that said - they had the most impressive fire dancers I've ever seen. One of the guys had to be no older than 13, but they were manipulating fire like that one lame X-Men character that can manipulate fire. Except these guys weren't lame.

Fire party

We hopped on stage for the party. There was a light steady rain that added to the island atmosphere. However, because of the rain and too many people jumping on stage, the stage started to sink into the beach and everyone was told to get off.

In an effort to find lanterns, we walked the island but there were none out of reverence for the late king. The 2017 NYE squad.

Switched to a less expensive hotel, the Avatar Railay, which depending on the time you choose to travel, is as low as $52/night. I'd recommend as a cheap hotel option.

The Avatar Railay still. It's less than a 5-minute walk from the main strip on Railay Beach.

Rock climbing is a must in Krabi. Climbers of all skill-sets can do this. You'll end up using muscles you never realized you had. There are several outfitters and we went with the appropriately-titled Krabi Rock Climbing. We went on an all-day tour that took us on 4 climbs, a hike and rappel, and lunch was included. If  4 climbs doesn't sound like its enough, don't worry - it's plenty. This climb was near Pranang Cave, which is famous for having a cave full of penises. I took some GoPro footage but then lost the camera, so y'all can Google it. It's a shrine to fertility. I digress.
Mindy around 60% up the cliff. This was the warm-up.

On the 2nd jump, I posted up on a ledge to shoot video of Mindy and Pete climbing. Love this shot of my bae.
Let's just say Pete was relieved to make it to the top!

This was a smaller cliff that was all about form. This route can crush your forearms quickly.

On my final climb, which was about 90-feet, I stopped to take a peak at a rainbow off in the distance. The guides estimated the climb was a 5.9, but I think he was just trying to make us feel better. It was more like a 5.7 with areas that are 5.8.

We ate dinner at Ao Naang on Krabi, which is a 15-minute ferry ride away from Railay Beach. This is like the Waikiki of Krabi - open markets, shops, cars (there are no cars on Railay), lady boys... you know, Real Thailand! Ate dinner at a hole in the wall. We ordered around 8 dishes on a 7-item menu.
This was the noodle soup with fish ball at 50bht, which is less than $1.50!

Look at all those fresh made noodles. At this same stand we ordered a banana Nutella rotee, aka Thai pancake. I've neglected to mention we ate about a zillion of these things things because they're about $1.15.

Oh and we also got some coconut ice cream. Someone was happy about that. By "someone," I mean "everyone."

'Til next time, Krabi.

Next: Ko Phi Phi and the surrounding islands


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