Monday, 12 December 2011

Vacationing in the fittest place on earth - Railay (Part I)...

Team Taylor Deportation/Repatriation Countdown

Days left in Singapore: 11

Days left until arrival in the Queen City: 18
And a good evening to you from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City.  The Bull logged a slow 4+ outside tonight, but I quite enjoyed the run, as there was a light rain throughout, provided some much needed coolness throughout the jog.  I think I'll hit Fitness First tomorrow, if for no other reason than tomorrow might be the last time I go (especially since I'm enjoying running outside so much more now).  But enough of that, let's get back to Thailand and FINALLY draw the backlog to a close.  Let's talk Railay.

So you've heard of this place before, as it's where Cuz and Elizabeth went with Muffin in October.  They were very much on the "adventurer's tour," and as I was in Jenny's keeping for this one (considering that I'd done ZERO planning), the plan was to pretty much rinse-repeat their escapades, as well as at a few other outdoorsy activities.  We were traveling on my birthday, and I received two AMAZING presents:  1) aisle seats on Tiger, and 2) I FINISHED NOBLE HOUSE, BABY!!!!!!  Seriously, that book (all 1284 HUGE pages of it in about .4 font) was absolutely SPECTACULAR, but it took me over a month to read.  Needless to say that I can't wait to jump into Whirlwind (Book 5 of the Asia saga), but I'm taking some time off between Clavell novels, as the next one is even LONGER than Noble House.  But hey - it is fiction that you can get lost in, which is excellent for a guy with a 14 hour flight coming up.

The arrival in Krabi - and I just realized there's a Norwegian
kid about to strip naked and pee in the water.  AWESOME.

Upon arrival at the airport we took a 45 minute van ride (the vehicle looked TOTALLY like one of the "karaoke-lady boy" mobiles, except, well, minus the lady boys.  Hitman - I didn't see shim anywhere, probably because he was off somewhere pining for you...) down to the pier, where we then hopped a long tail boat (the traditional water taxi of Thailand, so named because of the reDONKulously long steering pole for the outboard motor) and began the trek around the head and over to Railay Beach.  The journey was short (about 20 minutes), but it was BREATHTAKING. 

Check out my tan, buff Muffin Puffin saying "Welcome to
the gun show...and to Last Bar."
As Jenny's said before, Railay is just INCREDIBLE - the scenery might be the best I saw in my six trips to Thailand.  And the best part is that, because you have to work just that little bit harder to get there, it's virtually untouched.  Plus, throw in the fact that you've got no temples, limited civilization, and no big resorts, and you scare away a lot of folks.  Two people this did NOT scare away, however, were 2 loud Americans (not us, for the record) who rocked up with these ENORMOUS bags (rollerboards ON SAND, no less) and needed help getting both their stuff and themselves into the boat.  It was classic when they looked at everyone else's gear (single backpacks only) and said, "Wow - I thought we packed really light."  Oh dear.

And whilst I might not be as buff as my better
half, I can sure eat like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The ride over was just amazing - dramatic cliffs, rugged islands, pristine water - exactly what you see on travel shows about Thailand.  And in a short 20 minutes, we were on West Railay (the "ritzy" half of the beach).  The 2 Americans hadn't prebooked, and so they decided to follow us.  After about 5 minutes walking, one of them said, "I think we should either go back to the mainland or stay on West Railay - this is a REALLY long walk."  They both looked winded as hell, and when I found out their previous 12 days had been spent on Ko Samui, it all made sense.  And so we bid farewell to them and rocked up to the Railay Princess, which was AWESOME.

Muffin Puffin suited up and ready for the kayak ride!
If you didn't know better, you'd think I was just chillin' in
this photo.  The truth?  I was just smiling because I didn't
have to paddle for the next 30 seconds.  Although, I must
confess - splitting these 2 islands in a kayak was AWESOME.
So Muffin had found this place during recon on her first trip, and it was just spectacular.  It reminded me a lot of the Tabacon in Costa Rica, and the best part?  THE POOL HAD A DIVING BOARD, BABY!!!!  Now granted, you were jumping into 4 feet of water, but still (don't worry, mum - I never dove).  The view from our second floor balcony of the peaks on both sides was just stellar, and I was already having a blast.  We cleaned up a bit and then wandered down through the TINY little strip of restaurants and bars, stopping at the place Jenny had frequented night on night in October - Last Bar.  We decided to have dinner here, and we FINALLY got to try Barracuda!!!!  That fish was so guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuud...peppy cheekies.  However, we also had 8 big bottle Changs each, which in retrospect was just not a good idea.  However, at the time, it was open mike night, people were ROCKIN' it out, and we were sitting in an open air patio, listening to the sea in the background and good music in front of us.  Plus, I honestly didn't have a concept of how active this trip was going to be.  Had I known then what I know now, it would have been a 3 Chang night - full stop.  But since I didn't, let's skip ahead to the next day.

Team Taylor - the new faces of REI.
We popped up about 9:30 (had to make free brekkie!) and were out about 10.  We first wandered to the place JT stayed last time (yes - 5 nights for $27 TOTAL per person!) and checked out the view of East Railay before wandering over to West Railay to book a tour and then rent kayaks.  Now I will confess that I was THRILLED about the prospect of kayaks, but 2 things became apparent quickly in the FIVE THOUSAND DEGREE HEAT UNDER A CLOUDLESS SKY - 1) I am a weakling who does NOT have the arm strength to lift a gnat, and 2) kayaking with a hangover is NEVER a good idea. 

What do you mean we have to paddle back?
That being said, the scenery was just INCREDIBLE, and we had a simply wicked 2 hours paddling through coves, around rocky outcroppings, past islands, and even onto our own private beach, where we swam for about 20 minutes (in the shade, mercifully).  It was a really incredible experience - probably the best kayaking we've done outside of Norway.  But after 2 hours, our arms were falling off (actually, my wife is about 40 times stronger than me, and she was TOTALLY fine - I'm pretty sure she's the only reason we actually made it to shore).  We arrived at the shore 5 minutes past the 2 hour mark, and the rental guy kept staring at the paper as if he was stunned that we'd missed the window and should pay for the next hour.  However, his infinite compassion allowed us the grace period, and 5 minutes later we were on our way back to West Railay, where we caught the island connector path and wandered over to Pernang Beach through Pernang Cave (which isn't really a cave - it's just a carved out path on the side of a cliff - let's call it an "indentation").  Pernang Cave was less than impressive, but what was impressive was ALL THE MONKEYS running around EVERYWHERE. 
I mean...I just...can I, sorry.  Can't do it without making
a wise crack.  Move on.
It was CRAZY!  I mean, they weren't "Monkey Forest rabid" like in Ubud, but it was still pretty out of control - especially for any donkey stupid enough to feed them.  We did make the obligatory stop at the PENIS SHRINE (Seriously - we are talking about a BILLION wooden and ceramic penises just piled on top of each other...and lots of women comment), but it was tough to take pictures will all the women on their knees (I mean...I CAN'T STOP TRYING TO MAKE JOKES HERE - PLEASE SOMEONE CALL THE CENSORSHIP AUTHORITIES).  It was really hard (that's what she said) not to laugh.

We then hopped in the water for a swim out to one of the nearby islands (which was incredible) before heading back to the palace and showering.  It was then back to Railay quickly for what turned out to be one of THE BEST sunsets we saw in Thailand before making a second appearance at (where else?  You'll notice a theme) Last Bar, where we AGAIN had the Barracuda (as well as about 3 other dishes).  It should be notied that this was an AFD, and Team Taylor was PASSED OUT by 8:30 back in the room. 

We'll pick up with more Railay action tomorrow, but the Bull's got some more packing to do, and so duty calls.

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print.  Chat tomorrow!


Sam and (safely down in Mumbai, most likely sipping a drink at Leopold's with Linbaba and Didier as we speak, and apparently in a PALACE in Colaba) Jenny (and Cath)

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