Goodbye Chiang Mai and Hello Beaches
22.03.2010 - 22.03.2010
We are safely present in Ao Nang, about a half hour south west of Krabi and smack dab on the beach. It was a fairly long day of in-country travel, beginning this morning at 8 am in Chiang Mai. Our taxi driver was strangely on time (not really a Thai thing, I’ve come to notice) and thus breakfast was skipped and tummies empty. This is always a bad omen to start the day.
We were happy to say goodbye to our ridiculously cheap (and subsequently reflected quality) hostel. Nine days were more than plenty of time to stay at the hostel. While spending a mere $140 per person for those nine days, we came to find that compromising location and cleanliness was certainly not worth the low overhead on vacation. This hostel was by far the worst part of Chiang Mai. For the last three days of our stay we had ZERO toilet paper. I compensated by stealing quarter rolls of toilet paper from the downstairs common bathroom. I asked multiple times for replacements, each resulting in disappointment and a potential messy situation. Perhaps that’s what the hoses in the bathrooms are for. Both Jenna and Zac found interesting uses for the bathroom hoses that I will refrain from sharing with you, but I wouldn’t touch them knowing this information.
Flushing toilet paper is a no-no in Thailand, so not having a room clean in nine days was disgusting. Eventually we waded up our garbage bags and left them outside the door where they sat in the scorching sun for hours until someone finally picked them up. Yuck, talk about a shitty job.
So, goodbye we said, departed we did, and off to the airport we were. We left far too early and somehow occupied our time until it was time to board for Bangkok. To get to the islands we have to fly from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, Bangkok to Krabi, and then take a ferry from Krabi (or nearby Ao Nang) to whichever island tickles our fancy (in our case Ko Phi Phi). This meant two flights for the day. Awesome. We all know how much I adore flying. Refraining from xanax, I did my best to cope with my increasing anxiety. I made it from Chiang Mai to Bangkok no problem, but upon arriving in Bangkok we discovered our flight was delayed by an hour. Of course my mind begins to race with the many possible reasons one’s plane may be delayed. Other planes off schedule, drunk pilots, fiery crashes. So many options!
Bangkok airport was kind enough to provide televisions around the boarding gates for entertainment while waiting for flights, however, and today’s programming (for whatever insane reason) was a program called Crashes That Changed Flying. Of course I had to watch the full hour (in horror, might I add) as the show went through multiple plane crashes, their causes, and the redeeming catch of what airlines have since done to improve improper flying conditions and hazards since. For whatever reason, “only in Asia” came passing through my mind.
Hesitantly I boarded our final flight for the day from Bangkok to Krabi. If there was a time for xanax, this surely was it. Too late though, and before I knew it we had landed with relative ease despite the images running through my mind of skidding crashes and blazing fires with no chance for escape.
Immediately upon landing in Krabi I felt a sense of ease. I instantly liked this place far more than Chiang Mai, albeit they are very different parts of Thailand. Krabi (not even the draw city for this province) is surrounded by huge rock formations, cliffsides, and clean air free of haze. Visibility ranged more than 100 feet in the distance and this pleased me and my expectations for a more natural beauty. Call me crazy, but face masks and dust aren’t really appealing or engaging qualities for what I seek in vacation spots. Picky, perhaps, but these lungs prefer freshness.
We caught a taxi (humorously, all taxi stands are situated one right after another with exactly the same prices) for a slightly lower fee because of the saturation and desperation for business. The driver spoke and read no English, so there was some initial confusion on what was being said to whom as to where we were going, but he managed and found it all the same. The drive from Krabi to Ao Nang was a relatively easy one (as easy as crazy driving in this rule-free road atmosphere can be) and we checked into our hotel with about as much ease (minus the fact the room initially had two single beds. We now have three—the third being a short cot that I find myself laying in as we speak) as the airport drive.
Our first stop in Ao Nang was FOOD. We’d had a small sandwich on one flight (a barren, dry thing, might I add. Some rosemary foccacia and pesto aioli would have done it some good) and otherwise nothing other than chewing gum. Breakfast of champions (although I would have preferred the martini, Mr. Vonnegut).
We ate at a small stand across the road from our hotel, which is a lovely little room in what appears to be a condo complex along the main drag of Ao Nang. In the distance we have beautiful views of limestone cliffs, which I can admire off the small but adequate balcony. It’s about a ten minute walk to the beach, through busy store fronts of seven elevens, the same clothing store over and over again, many restaurants of just about any persuasion, and a ridiculous amount of white tourists. We of course are only adding to the numbers, but in this heavily populated Muslim part of Thailand I feel we are perhaps one of the more respectful groups, not walking around outside of the beach in tube tops or bikinis (in part because we’d have some serious muffin tops in tube tops, but let’s just go with the respectful factor of it). It amazes me the way some travelers blatantly ignore (or refrain from even researching) the local customs, cultural norms, and expectations of decency.
We headed to the beach in time for a beautiful pink and orange sunset over the distant islands, nestled comfortably in the sea shell filled sand and eventually waded through the temperate waters until we decided it was time to head back up to the hotel. Our first day here was shortened due to travel delays, but we had what I felt to be a nice orientation to this small beach town in the little time we had. Our walk back consisted of picking up beer (which we have subsequently enjoyed after Zac broke one of the two bottles trying to open them in what I consider his best manly attempt) and then consuming it on our balcony as we watched the traffic pass us by.
The three of us seem to be sharing a room from here on out. This saves money in the long run, but creates potentially disastrous situations. As I sit and attempt to think and write I am flooded with Zac’s telling of Michael Jackson jokes and Jenna’s squeamishness at his crude humor. This could be a long two weeks. I’ve since popped my headphones in and faded away from the chaos of annoyance that is my boyfriend and my sister.
I wish I had a more interesting day to report back, one of stories and adventures and humor and wit, but this drunk and boring post will have to do for now. Tomorrow we’ll be resting our bones on the beach as I try not to fry like bacon and avoid stinky hippies in too-small swimming suits. I’ll let you know how that one goes.