Tuesday, December 30, 2014

12/18/14 Day 336 Ao Ton Sai and Ao Railay

Our adventure starts with a songtheaw from Krabi to Ao Nang beach for 50 baht and after a quick street food lunch we are over the built up touristy souvenir shops and take one of the dozens of long boats waiting on both sides of the beach. It is a conformed process where you actually buy a ticket from a booth for 100 Baht and show it to the driver, once there is a group of 8 or more you wade out to the boat and load up, arriving in either Tonsai or Railay just fifteen minutes later. Sloshing through the low tide we wander up the shore towards a dirt road perhaps leading to something? There are only a few dozen places on the Ton Sai side, but we have been told that it is the more chilled out and cheap side of this climbers paradise. After inquiring at a few bungalows it is suggested that we head up the mountain to find the prices we are looking for.  All the way at the end of the line Kevin and I manage to scrounge up a bungalow for 300 baht a night and Julie settles for the dorm next door for 150 since there are no cheaper options for three people. Not bad but we soon realized how expensive the cost of living is, the beer and the food are more expensive than on Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao and we are not even on an island. Granted we are on cliff blocked, secluded bays that must be reached by long tail boats due to their shallow beaches, making product accessibility difficult. Ao Ton Sai, Railay West and Railay East are three sequential bays that are interrupted by karst limestone cliffs creating a challenging path between one another and impossible passage to the very nearby Krabi mainland. Each of these three beaches is a world of its own as well. Ton Sai is a hippie haven with cheap accommodation and no rush for anything except climbing which is what most people come here for. Within a half hour via the jungle track or along a moderately steep and jagged beach climb you reach Railay East, which is essentially one nice long beach, with minimal options for accommodation or food. At the west end of the beach you can go through "walking street" and just a short few minutes later you will find yourself on Railay beach West with a depressing view of the muddy mangrove pit that precedes the majority of food/accommodation options for the three bays. Also a must if you are on the Ton Sai side is a visit to Mama's Chicken for the amazing 70 baht chicken sandwich, it is not often we opt out of Noodles or rice in Thailand...but for this sandwich, definitely. Unfortunately for the beach and nature enthusiasts everywhere a huge corporation from Bangkok has purchased a huge chunk of the beachfront property and is clearing the beautiful jungle to construct a huge resort, so another triumph in the name of...progress?! Hopefully Ton Sai is able to maintain some of its previous enchanting charm in the future.  

An actual posted price for a taxi 50 baht clearly marked
Traditional longtail boats all waiting in queue 
Our first longtail ride

Bungalows on the Ton Sai side
Just a chilled out hippy haven

We seem to be in the jungle, this 3-4' critter was slithering outside our bungalow
We may not be rock climbing, but at least we are getting some heights in
Ton Sai bay
Climbers climbing
Here is where you can follow the rope guided path between Ton Sai and Railay West
Looking out over Railay West

Little mangrove trees
Tiny crabs, creating tiny balls of sand
Nature is awesome
Then there are the Macaques
There must have been a barrel of at least two dozen mischievous monkeys 

This is Railay East, not so glamorous as a sandy beach
Hiking the forest trail back to our bungalows

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