Krabi, Thailand

Southern Thailand’s Touristy, Vehicular-Free Rock Climbing & Backpacker Mecca


Through sunglasses. Arrival @ Hat Rai Leh West Beach, Krabi, Thailand. March 17, 2012

I don’t like intense sun & I am not one to lie out in it. I don’t particularly like being constantly (very) hot & constantly (very) sweaty. Aside from using it to stay hydrated & clean I’m not all that fond of water, especially the salty kind, & thus I’m not a swimmer – I may have half-a-dozen polo shirts with me in my backpack but good luck trying to find a pair of swimmers. I don’t particularly like sand; it has a tendency to get into places it shouldn’t, like inside expensive camera equipment. Finally, I don’t like paying for things that are overpriced, especially necessities like food & shelter. So all in all I really shouldn’t be commenting favourably on the last 3 days which I’ve spent on Railay Beach in Krabi, southern Thailand. But I’m going to do just that.

Arriving on Hat Rai Leh West Beach, Krabi, southern Thailand. March 17, 2012.

Long-tail boat activity on the shore of Hat Rai Leh West Beach, Krabi, Thailand. This is one of my first Railay Beach pictures having just arrived off these long-tail boats from the Thai mainland. There is no vehicular traffic access to Railay Beach so these boats offer the only access to it from the Thai mainland (& it can be quite a challenge getting in and out of them with a large backpack on your back). Hat Rai Leh West Beach, Krabi (map-pointer-icon), Thailand. March 17, 2012.

A downpour close to sunset on Hat Rai Leh West Beach, Krabi, Thailand. March 17th 2012.

My first Thai beach sunset was a washout. A downpour close to sunset on Hat Rai Leh West Beach, Krabi, Thailand. March 17, 2012.

The 2nd Coming (& Going)
I’d been to this part of the world before. Back in 2003 I spent almost 2 weeks in the region & back then toyed with the idea of staying in Railay but decided against it in favour of the nearby Phi Phi Islands & Phuket. But this time Railay was a go. It’s a strikingly beautiful place with isolation as one of its many draws – the 4 beaches here, at best only mediocre, can only be reached by long-tail boat as they hide behind impenetrable limestone cliffs, cliffs that make this location a popular spot for rock-climbing enthusiasts.

The limestone karst cliffs of Krabi make this a very popular rock climbing destination. Krabi, Thailand. March 18th 2012.

The limestone karst cliffs of Krabi make this a very popular rock climbing destination. Krabi, Thailand. March 18, 2012.

Krabi’s Railay Beach is the sort of place you can easily wile away many a sleepy, lazy day while getting your fill of sweating, overpriced everything & evening sunsets (assuming the sunsets decide to show up). I have gotten my fill of all that & after 3 nights here I’m ready to move on, and ready to leave Thailand.

Kids Frolicking in the water off Hat Ton Sai Beach, Krabi, Thailand. March 18th 2012

Kids Frolicking in the water off Hat Ton Sai Beach, Krabi, Thailand. March 18, 2012

2004 Tsunami
Among the cocktails, swaying palm trees, & picture postcard sunsets, it’s easy to forget the horrors of the recent past. On December 26, 2004, the world’s second most powerful earthquake off-shore in the Indian Ocean caused a 15-metre high tsunami wave that flattened entire communities along the Thai Andaman Coast & ruined, or at least put on hold, the entire Thai tourist industry. One of the worst hit areas was the aforementioned Phi Phi Islands. I was thinking of paying it a visit this time around to see how the place is today (needless to say I decided against it in favour of Railay). I’m not quite sure how badly effected Railay Beach was by the tsunami but suffice to say these days there are no lingering signs, assuming it came here at all, of the wave that claimed more than 6,000 lives all those years ago.

Low tide on Hat Rai Leh West Beach, Krabi, Thailand. March 19th 2012.

Low tide on Hat Rai Leh West Beach, Krabi, Thailand. March 19, 2012.

Phra Nang Beach, Krabi, Thailand. March 19, 2012.

Limestone karst peaks, a natural characteristic of the Krabi region, offshore of Phra Nang Beach. Of the four beaches on Railay, this beach is the most idyllic & just a short walk from my accommodation. But you’d need serious baht to call this beach home – there’s only 1 resort on this stretch of Thai sand & its room rates start at 42,000 baht (€1,000). March 19, 2012.

Budget Busters
I’m on a budget. Of course I am. But it hasn’t been going well. Thailand is more expensive than I remember it being & Railay prices in particular are hurting; 140baht (€3.5) Chang beers is enough to keep most people sober in the evenings & 350 baht (€9) for a small tube of sunscreen is enough to ensure one takes their chances with melanoma. I spent 5,000baht (€120) alone 2 days ago on Saint Paddy’s day – money well spent of course (it happens but once a year) but budget busting nonetheless.

Long-tail boats off Hat Rai Leh West Beach, Krabi, Thailand, Thailand. March 17, 2012.

Long-tail boats off Hat Rai Leh West Beach, Krabi, Thailand, Thailand. March 17, 2012.

Jaded Thais
The 2007 version of Lonely Planet Thailand that I have with me says the following:

Thailand is an easy country to love: the pace of life is unhurried, the people are generally friendly and the pressures on the short-term visitor are relatively few. A smile goes a long way here, chitchat is more important than a to-do list and doling out complements is a national sport. That doesn’t mean every Thai is a cheery Pollyanna. So many foreigners pass through the country completely oblivious of the culture and customs that many Thais, especially in the tourist industry, suffer from ‘foreigner fatigue’. They have used up their patience on penny-pinchers, neocolonialists & paranoiacs.

Maybe that explains why almost every Thai I’ve interacted with here in Railay treated me with such indifference. It’s coming to the end of the high season here in Railay so maybe they are jaded, all touristed-out. The only reaction of any kind that I got out of any Thai that served me over the past few days – be it in a bar, a restaurant or a shop – was an apologetic smile from a girl who waited 30 minutes to tell me the overpriced dish I had ordered on my first night here was not available. I wondered what the delay was for and she wondered what the fuss was all about.

The sunset I witnessed on the last night by the beach in southern Thailand, and Thailand itself, wasn't one of those bright-golden-disc-in-the-sky type of sunsets - the sun disappeared behind clouds well before it hit the horizon & things dimmed pretty fast after that. I was disappointed – 3 nights & 3 sunset no-shows. But then, sitting as I was sulking into my Chang beer & cursing all things Thailand, something wonderful happened; the sky above started to glow a beautifully comforting shade of pink. This continued until eventually everything around was bathed in this beautiful pinky purple glow. It was surreal & sitting on a beach awash with pink was very zen. Late sunset on Hat Rai Leh West Beach Krabi Thailand

The sunset I witnessed tonight, my last night by the beach in southern Thailand, and indeed Thailand itself, wasn’t one of those bright-golden-disc-in-the-sky type of sunsets – the sun disappeared behind clouds well before it hit the horizon & things dimmed pretty fast after that. I was disappointed – 3 nights & 3 sunset no-shows. But then, sitting as I was sulking into my Chang beer & cursing all things Thai, something wonderful happened; the sky above started to glow a beautifully comforting shade of pink. This continued until eventually everything around was bathed in this beautiful pinky purple glow. It was surreal & sitting on a beach awash with pink was very zen. A nice send-off. Late sunset on Hat Rai Leh West Beach, Krabi, Thailand. March 19, 2012

Long-tail boat reflections on Hat Rai Leh West Beach, Krabi, Thailand, Thailand. March 20, 2012.

Long-tail boat reflections on Hat Rai Leh West Beach, Krabi, Thailand, Thailand. March 20, 2012.

Krabi, Southern Thailand || The Gallery

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