Archive for the ‘Krabi’ Category

Just Another Day In Paradise

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Lindsay and I awoke early for our last morning in Krabi, went to breakfast with Danielle and Anneka and then had a few hours to kill before we needed to meet the speed boats on the beach that would take us to Phi Phi. On our way to the beach the previous day we had spotted a rock climb area that led to a lookout point over the peninsula, so we decided we would conquer that before leaving. This was a climb that did not require special shoes or a harness but it was by no means an easy climb. The first part of it wasn’t too bad because it wasn’t incredible steep and there was a rope to hold onto, but it was easily a thirty five minute climb the middle part which was the most rigorous. Eventually it evened out and the last bit of it was actually a dirt path through the trees, but we were all quite literally dripping with sweat once we got to the top. O and rock climbing in flip flops, probably not one of my better wardrobe decisions, but they were the only shoes I had with me on the island and I wasn’t fearless enough to attempt it barefoot.

Climbing up to the lookout

The view from the top- the estuary is on the right and the Andaman Sea is on the left and the resort bridges the space between the two

We came, we climbed, we conquered.

Paradise: the view from above

Sweaty, but still smiling

Estuary side

After we caught our breath we began our climb down and arrived back at the bottom sweaty and mud streaked but feeling accomplished. We spent the rest of the morning lounging by the pool before having to pack up and meet the speed boats on the beach that would be taking us to our next destination: Phi Phi. On our way to our next hotel we were told that we would be stopping to have an hour long snorkel! I have never snorkeled before and I was super excited to get this opportunity.

So excited

The water is so pretty and clear

I was a little nervous to jump into the water because there were fish EVERYWHERE, but once I did and I put my face into the water I was AMAZED at the sights that met my eyes. Had I not been breathing through a tube they would have taken my breath away.  (the following pictures are not from my camera as my camera does not operate underwater, they are from another girl who was on the trip)

Fishies!

So. Many. Fishies!

After many years of watching Finding Nemo and flipping through the pages of National Geographic magazines in medical waiting rooms I was expecting a rainbow of colors in the coral beds, what we came across was quite different. Due to rising ocean temperatures in the last two or three years the coral in this region has been bleached, a condition in which the coral looses all of its color due to a stress-induced expulsion or death of their symbiotic protozoa or due to the loss of pigmentation within the protozoa. The corals that form the structure of reef ecosystems in tropical sea areas depend upon a symbiotic relationship with unicellular flagellate protozoa, called zooxanthellae that are photosynthetic and live within their tissues. Zoonanthellae give coral its coloring and under stress corals may expel their zooxanthellae which leads to a lightening of color or sometimes a complete loss of color leaving the coral gray or white. Once bleaching begins it tends to continue even without continuing stress. If the coral colony can survive the stress period zooxanthellae will often return within weeks to months to a normal density, but this is not always the case as some zooxanthellae and coral species are more resistant to stress than others. Increasing ocean temperature is the most common cause of this, as even a 1-2 degree change annually can trigger this phenomena. Increasing ocean acidification also can exacerbate bleaching effects due to thermal stress. (all information researched from Wikipedia)

The Coral Seekers employee who was our guide on the boat was explaining that in the last two or three years almost all the coral in this area has lost its coloring, but the fish have stuck around.

Sea Urchins- do not touch!

Bleached out coral

After an hour or so of snorkeling we were taken to check into our hotel in Phi Phi (this is pronounced ‘Pee Pee’ which I was not able to hear someone say without snickering, I’m so mature, I know) where we checked into our rooms and then headed to the hotel restaurant for lunch.

The pool at our Phi Phi hotel

I never actually swam in this pool but it was very pretty to look at

I love these flowers, they are everywhere in Australia too

Walkway to the beach

While we were eating lunch they had the Royal Wedding coverage on the big screen TV in the hotel, so even though we were in a country that is in no way affiliated with the British crown, nor do its inhabitants speak English, we could not escape the Royal Wedding. After lunch we loaded back onto the boats to do a tour of some of the other islands in the area.

There are these huge rocky outcroppings everywhere, it looks like we are on an episode of Lost

These caves are home to a rare species of bird that only nests in this one location, so there is a small tribe of people who live here to protect these birds and their nesting grounds from poachers

Island magnificence

Our main attraction for the afternoon was a stop on the island of Koh Phi Phi which is where the 2000 adventure drama film The Beach, starring Leonardio Dicaprio and Tilda Swinton was filmed.

Link for the trailer to the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EJ1T0cf-Wk

the beach from the movie "The Beach"

View from the shore

Doing more silly things with my arms. At least I'm consistent

Mountains beyond the shoreline

We spent a few hours hanging out in Ma Ya Bay, during which time the Coral Seeker employees who had been driving us around all day on two boats brought out two huge coolers of cranberry and vodka mixed drinks and jello shots, so we got to have a little early evening cocktail on the beach before dinner. A storm was moving in over the island and as it began to rain we loaded back into the boats and headed back to our hotel. Once there we changed out of our bathing suits and went out to check out the night life in Phi Phi. Unlike in Krabi, which is more of a resort town with very few local residents, Phi Phi had a bustling commercial district that was mostly filled with beach wear shops, dive bars, restaurants, massage parlors, internet cafes, souvenir shops, and island tour companies. It was a loud, cramped and crowded district filled with lots of drunk sunburned tourists and local shop owners getting up in your face about taxi rides and snorkeling trips. Lindsay, Anneka, Danielle and I pushed our way through all the madness to find a cute pirate themed restaurant where we had a light diner before heading back to the hotel where we collapsed into bed.


How Wonderful It Is to Do Nothing, and Then Rest Afterwards

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Lindsay and I were up early the next morning and met Danielle and Anneka for another complimentary hotel breakfast, only this time our view had much improved. The breakfast at the resort was good, and the selection of fresh tropical fruits was certaintly impressive, but it wasn’t as good as Chiang Mai. The bar had been set very high by the Imperial Ping Hotel in Chiang Mai, and the four of us spent every morning debating the merits of every other breakfast we encountered and comparing it to the one in Chiang Mai. After breakfast we had no scheduled activities and the whole day to do as we wish, so we went straight to the beach. There are two main beach areas on the resort that are separated by a big rocky outcropping, so you could swim from one beach to the other but you couldn’t walk to it unless you wanted to climb up the mini rock mountain. Of the two main beach areas one has a pool overlooking it and its where the main reception area is and the restaurant, and the other has to be accessed by a wooden path that goes around the island and its more secluded. This latter beach was where we opted to begin our day. Along the path to the beach are stunning cavernous rock ledges, similar to what you would see in Luray caverns, only they are above ground. So on our way to the beach we did a little poking around. We only caught glimpses of the monkey population that lives on the island, but the day before we saw some monkeys scampering across the roofs of one of the hotel buildings, which was so crazy. Monkeys, just, you know, hanging out.

Walking past the estuary side to get to the other beach

Exploring the caverns lining the path to the beach

Anneka caught off guard

The view of the path from underneath the rock ledge

Anneka, Lindsay and Danielle posing for me

I always seem to do this with my arms when someone points a camera at me

The beach!

Rocks over the ocean! They had rock climbing courses set up on these rocks over the sand but only for the really adventurous and experienced climbers

Phangnga Bay, the body of water that Krabi sits on is known as being a very fertile area, and this is the fertility shrine that pays homage to that. There is a legend about a woman and three suitors that is the reason for all this, but the plaque on the shrine explaining it was written in Thai and I couldn't find it anywhere on the internet.

An appropriate shrine to have near a honeymoon resort

We threw our stuff on the sand and jumped in. There are a bunch of cool caverns you can swim up to and then explore on foot so we spent most of the morning doing that. We saw bats and sea enemies and all sorts of cool sea birds and ocean critters. After a long morning of swimming we laid out on the beach and waited for the sun to get high enough that the rocks no longer kept us in the shade. When the sun became too intense we headed back to our air conditioned rooms to cool off and snack on some complimentary fresh island fruit and watch more HBO movies. Later on in the day we explored some of the local beach shops and once the sun was beginning to set headed back to the main beach area to watch the sunset. Danielle, Anneka, and Lindsay wanted to go check out the bars, but I wanted to eat dinner, and specifically I wanted pizza. After six days of eating Thai food, which, like all Asian cuisines includes no dairy, I was really craving something cheesy. So the other girls set out in search of nightlife and I hung out by the beach with Courtney and Kaela and watched the sunset and then enjoyed a veggie pizza and some cheesy garlic bread with them at the hotel restaurant.

Second sunset in Krabi

So pretty

After dinner I met back up with Lindsay, Anneka and Danielle and as we were exhausted we didn’t even bother trying to go out, we just went back and lazed around chatting and watching movies before going to bed in our super large and very low king sized beds.

By Land, Air, Longboat, and Tractor

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Our last morning in Chiang Mai was an early one, we ate one more amazing hotel breakfast and then loaded into busses for the trip to the airport. We flew from Chiang Mai to Bankok, where we met a connecting flight to the Island of Krabi. Getting off our first flight into the Bankok airport was quite an ordeal, as it was thunder storming quite violently when we landed and so they could not bring out the long metal tubes to get the passengers off the plane and into the airport for fear of them being hit by lightning. However, the personel at the Bankok airport were able to very efficiently resolve this matter by brining rolling covered staircases up to the front and rear exits of the plane and getting everyone off after only having to wait for about twenty minutes. Our layover in the Bankok airport was less than an hour and by the time we landed in Krabi we were greeted with a stifling heat and humidity so thick it felt like we had walked into someone’s mouth.

Waiting for us at the arrivals gate were representatives from the Railay Bay Resort who were holding a huge banner that said “Welcome Study Australia Students.” They escorted us out to the parking lot where we placed our checked luggage into a van that would deliver it to the hotel we would stay at in Phuket, and we were left with only our backpacks, packed with the essentials that we would need for the next three days. The reason for this downsizing in luggage was because the bus then took us to a dock where we all loaded into two long boats, which were not big enough to hold all of our checked luggage.

Views even from the dock were absolutely incredible. All the posters and postcards you have ever seen with images of crystal clear blue water with jagged vegetated mountains in the background and the wooden longboats in the foreground was exactly the reality I found myself in. It was incredible and I was wide eyed and blinking hard trying to take it all in.

Other longboat headed for the resort

view from the longboat ride

more mountain outcroppings

It looked like we were on the set of "Lost" except it was REAL

Longboats are everywhere in coastal Thailand

Almost there!

The estuary side of the peninsula

We had arrived!

When we arrived the tide was on its way out, so a tractor with a large platform on wheels backed out from the shore to our boat and we all loaded onto it and it took us the remaining 40-60 feet to the sidewalk lining the beach. We were given some sort of iced guava juice and cold washcloths upon arrival and were then given keys and sent to check out our rooms. What I did not realize was that this was no ordinary hotel, this was a RESORT. A resort whose predominant clientele base is honeymooners, so the rooms were designed in accordance with that demographic group, meaning every aspect of the room was designed for optimal private honeymoon…activities.

Every "room" was really more of a one bedroom apt, each with a private entrance.

Each room had a private entrance, and a private enclosed patio that surrounded it. It also had a doorbell outside.

Once inside, each room had a private deck area complete with two reclining chairs, two patio chairs, an outdoor shower, and a small hot tub.

Hot tub/outdoor shower

We totally had a moat, the ultimate in honeymooner suite security

Our moat had fish in it, I don't think they were flesh eating, but hey, you can't have everything right?

Bedroom, notice how low and wide the bed is. Like I said- DESIGNED for private honeymoon activities

These rooms were so obviously designed for sex it was hysterical. The shower was HUGE and had a super wide bench seat in it and everything was private and enclosed. If you wanted to have your room made up every day you had to turn on a light that indicated that, otherwise the maids wouldn’t come in. I half expected the mini fridge to be stocked with gatorade and power bars and have a complimentary basket of condoms next to it. Shortly after checking in and throwing our stuff down we all changed into bathing suits and went exploring. There were two pools at the resort, one that was very close to our room and one that was overlooking the beach. After a swim we enjoyed a complimentary buffet style dinner on the beach at sunset, and once the sun went down tiki torches and candles were lit and we enjoyed our dessert via candlelight. After dinner it was dark and a fire spinner came out and did a routine for us, collectively it was the most scenically stunning dinner experience I have ever had.

One of two pools

A monkey. You know, just hanging out.

hotel bar

Sunset over the Andaman Sea

The water was so clear, and so pleasantly warm.

Where we ate dinner that night. It was a complimentary meal provided by the hotel for our group.

Lindsay, Anneka and I about to enjoy our dinner on the beach

Me, Lindsay, Anneka and Danielle on the beach at sunset

Fire dancer

After we had eaten our fill of dinner and finished it off with the freshest pineapple and dragon fruit I have ever tasted we went back to our rooms to shower and change with the intention of checking out some of the nightlife. Danielle and Anneka came over to our room and chatted with Lindsay and I as we got ready, but somebody turned the TV on and because this resort is fancy as hell they had all sorts of movie channels so we got sucked into watching “The Blind Side” on HBO and by the time it ended and we headed out it had started to rain. We ignored the rain at first and kept walking towards the bars but pretty soon the drizzly rain had evolved into a full on torrential downpour. That seems to happen a lot in Thailand. Before we reached any of the bars we decided to turn back, and ran all the way back to our rooms in the pouring rain returning completely soaked but laughing hysterically. So much for blow drying my hair. Since it was almost midnight at this point we all decided to turn in and vowed to get up early the next day to thoroughly explore the island and get in some time on the beach.

Is it Possible to Be Jealous of My Own Life?

Friday, April 8th, 2011
I have been so enjoying my life in Sydney lately that I had almost forgotten about my upcoming spring (technically its fall here) break trip. I will be going on a 10 day pre arranged excursion to Thailand through my study abroad program. I received a copy of the itinerary to my email yesterday, and in the interest of making everyone hate me I have posted it here. It is as follows:
DAY 1 – CHIANG MAI ARRIVAL
Travel Day – Our group arrives in Chiang Mai this evening. Here, you will be met by guides and
transferred to hotel for our evening welcome dinner.
DAY 2 – CHIANG MAI / HILLTRIBE VILLAGE
This morning we transfer in small local trucks to an Elephant Camp located on the outskirts of
Chiang Mai. Everyone will get to ride the elephants through the local countryside. After meeting
the elephants, we continue into the mountains with a stop for lunch.
After lunch, we begin our afternoon with a hike to a Hilltribe Village. The walk takes
approximately 3 hours and takes us through the countryside and other small villages, affording us
a glimpse into the lives of locals. Upon arrival at our village for the evening, we enjoy a
traditional dinner by candlelight, meet villagers, and enjoy some local entertainment before
preparing for bed.

Chiang Mai

DAY 3 – CHIANG MAI
This morning we enjoy breakfast with the villagers and then board our taxi trucks and head back
to Chiang Mai.
This evening is at your leisure. Take some time to enjoy the fabulous street bazaar of Chiang Mai
which contains blocks of open-air markets, with abundant cheap food, and amazing arts and
crafts. All of this is within walking distance from your hotel.
DAY 4 – CHIANG MAI
We leave the hotel early this morning to travel to the original Chiang Mai cookery school where
you can try your hand at making traditional Thai dishes and then dine on the results.
This afternoon we drive up Suthep Mountain, which is located west of the city. The journey is
around 17km and provides us with excellent views over Chiang Mai City. Near the summit is the
stunning Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. This temple, one of the most important of the province and
an enduring symbol of Chiang Mai, is a place of fascinating history and legends.
Our Chiang Mai cultural experience finishes with a traditional Thai dining experience and
authentic Lanna entertainment.
DAY 5 – TRAVEL DAY / KRABI
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before we transfer to the airport to meet our flights to Krabi via
Bangkok. Upon arrival, we are transferred via minibus and longtail boat to the beach area of
Krabi. After some time to check-in, we provide a short orientation tour of the resort and local
area before providing the rest of the afternoon and evening to be enjoyed at your leisure. A
welcome dinner will be provided at the resort.

Krabi

DAY 6 – KRABI
Enjoy this amazing place as you wish today. Although there are no organized activities, there are
many options for you to choose from. You may want to go monkey-spotting as Krabi has many
primates playing in and around the beaches. Alternatively, you may choose to go sea-kayaking or
perhaps try your hand at climbing or caving that this area is known for. Or you can simply like
on the beach or enjoy a massage (or two).
DAY 7 – KRABI / PHI PHI
Around lunchtime, we depart Krabi via high-powered speedboats as we head to the island of Phi
Phi Don. Along the way, we take a bit of time to enjoy some great snorkeling (equipment
provided). We check into our hotel accommodations, have some free time, and then travel to
the island of Phi Phi Lei where the movie “The Beach” would filmed. Our boats take us to
numerous impressive locations as we explore the island. After some free time on the beach, we
head back for dinner. The evening is free for you to take in a fire show or perhaps check out the
local market.

Phi Phi

DAY 8 – PHI PHI / PHUKET
After breakfast, we head to Phi Phi Don for the island of Phuket. We view some smaller island on
the way and arrive with plenty of time for some afternoon shopping in street markets.

Phuket (pronounced Pu-ket, get your minds out of the gutter!)

The current exchange rate is about $1AUD = 30 baht. (The Australian dollar and the American dollar are very nearly equal at the moment) 70 – 100 baht will buy you an upscale dinner at a local thai restaurant ( for those of you who are not mathematically inclined this means I can eat a fancy dinner for $3.5 USD roughly, and get a massage for an hour for about the same price)
It is very easy to eat and drink for a day on $10
15 days left till I leave! Anyone left who doesn’t hate me yet?