Woke up in Chiang Mai this morning. Only after a few days binging on Vitamin D in the southern beaches we’re on the other side of the country.
The beaches were incredible. Hanging cliffs and stalactites and water of a million shades of blue, the postcards don’t lie. The newest and most conflicting part of this travel was the overwhelming number of Western backpackers. I know Thailand is renowned destination, but especially after coming from Sri Lanka, it’s a whole new environment. The majority of people we met were tourists. Which on one hand, we met many people and it’s an instant friend-making environment. We’re all basically doing the same thing, quitting our jobs (well, I’m not on that page..yet), nobody really has a path they’re following, lost have left homes behind completely, and everyone is just wandering the world following some bizarre calling to travel. Yet, they can be grimy. They can be rude and inconsiderate and get pink and sunburned and just take up space. They can be a burden when you’re trying to meet local people and all they want to do is meet each other and many just like to party away from home. But it’s juxtaposition in its finest and just another part of travel.
We took the overnight bus from. Bangkok to Krabi, which was insayyyne. It was a double decker complete with complimentary snacks and massage chairs. As long as you can avoid the couple in front that reclines their chairs into your lap, it’s not a bad getup for 12 hours on the road. We arrived ridiculously early but strolled over to our guesthouse anyway. Krabi was overcast when we arrived, and kind of reminded me of a New England town, perhaps a touristy coast of Maine? It was full of tourist attractions and white folk perusing the streets, but it had its own flair too. A port city, you could hear the clanging of masts and sails in the distance, fisherman shouting in those raspy fisherman voices, and the cloudy, cool salty air over partially cobblestoned streets just seemed familiar. But on the other side, the river and ocean were outlined with enormous cliffs and rocks and forests and green things.
The next morning I discovered a killer running trail that went alongside the water and then turned into a park, complete with its own set of workout equipment- aka gymnastics toys. Bars and beams that I obviously goofed around on. We then set off for Railey, an island renown for it’s climbing opportunities. It was filled with rock climbers and the little beach was overly stuffed with tourists as well. While the island itself was incredible and had rock features that were surreal, it seemed a bit too touristy for our comfort.
To combat that desire, we left the following morning (after a wonderful seafood dinner at the Krabi night market) for the southern coast of Koa Lanta. And this was perfect. This town had more of a low key beach town vibe, as opposed to the fisherman port feel of Krabi. We b-lined for the south coast, the quiet isolated piece of Lanta that everyone thinks isn’t worth visiting.
Oh but it was. Just enough people so you don’t feel alone, but enough to avoid the chaos. The ocean was blue and salty and I spend hours swimming through it. I also had a jog to the national park up the way that was one of my favorite runs ever. I made a canine friend that trotted along with me for a few kilometers and every few minutes the foresty road opened to an incredible vista overlooking more horizon of blue than I’ve ever seen at one time.
We made a few friends, including twin two year olds that were the goofiest kids ever. Aside from a sunburn and a breaking a hammock, the few days in that town were the best to date. Redefined my idea of relaxation. Apologies to any friends reading this during finals week. I feel for you. I’ll drink a piña colada in your honor.
We then cruised over to Phuket, the party island, if only one of many. Ah the “cruise”. Check out the party boat in the background. (ugh photo to come later) This is tourism transport down south, and the goal is to only give in to the system when you absolutely have to. Or our goal at least. To me, granted an eastern coaster, Phuket had a so cal vibe. Super big city packed with white skin, beach chairs and souvenir shops. It was great to get another sense of a new beach city in Thailand, and some extra sun and sea, but we were happy to be only spending the day there, northern bound for Chiang Mai via a domestic flight, we were transplanted to an entirely different part of the country in a matter of minutes.