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Railay, West Railay.

sunny 32 °C
View Forever Summer on chang2n's travel map.

Jenn & I spent our final week together just lounging on the beautiful beaches of Southern Thailand, specifically in Railay, West Railay. It is so small that google maps shows it as a blotch of land, which I guess it essentially is. As with most things in life, you've got your pro's & con's. Railay's con's:

  • Overpriced
  • No locals living in the area other than the ones who were stuck working on the island, and the majority of them were not overly happy
  • too many tourists

It required some will power to accept the situation, but whether or not I accepted it, you simply can't deny the lure of the clear aqua coloured waters and protruding cliffs. A feast for the eyes.
This is a view of West Railay beach
It had a total of perhaps 8-10 resorts, including ours “Sand Sea Resort”. Service was dismal, every morning we dreaded our breakfast buffet as all we encountered were pouting staff that did everything to ignore you.
We were on a thin peninsula and it took less than 10 minutes to cross to the other side. And yet the view of the East side was completely different, it had very little beach front and was a mangrove forest. This is East Railay beach at low tide.
When the tide comes in it got a bit better in appearance.
Some of the resorts were very nice on this end I guess the only way to attract people to stay on the less pleasant side. Here are two pictures detailing the extravagant and its polar opposite, separated only by a fence.
We participated in a total of 2 boat tours that took us sightseeing the surrounding islands and gave us opportunities to snorkel. Just our luck that I was ill and nauseous for the 1st trip and Jenn, the same sad state for the 2nd trip. I wish we could say that we were sea sick, but neither of us were prone to it, and it took some heavy backtracking to decipher the possible cause. “Oh yes... there was that one meal at the elephant resort buffet where I found a maggot in my veggie stir-fry...” Here are some pictures from the 1st trip:
The Prima Donna every tour was heavily selling, was the beach where “The Beach” was filmed. There were so many tourists it was difficult to enjoy the actual beach, and the beautiful water front was tough to appreciate as it was heavily laden with anchored tour boats.
The 1st trip had approximately 45 tourists crammed into a decent sized boat. The 2nd trip was much more pleasant as the boat was twice as large with a top deck, a total of 8 and overall a much better tour operator.
The waters were perfect for snorkeling, the view from above gives only a 5% spectrum of what you saw underneath. Glorious clear waters and surrounded by schools of fish of all sizes and colours.
Chicken Island, this was the only name that I retained of all the islands we went to.
The start of a beautiful sunset
We anchored at this paradise island for dinner.
I still can’t get over the colours and how it varied from one view to the other.
Looking at the sunset.
Looking away from the sun. Jenn & I kept gawking at one another, marveling at the colours. It couldn't have been painted any prettier.
We said goodnight to the sun and hello to the huge flying bats. They were loud, massive and flying overhead very quickly. They kept streaming and streaming along in huge numbers for their nightly feeding.
I swear in person hey covered the sky. In this pic they speckled the sky.
A badly zoomed bat. The locals called them flying foxes and flying dogs because they’re that huge.
We ended this tour being caught in stormy waters.
Thankfully it calmed and I was able to experience my first phosphorescent plankton swim that evening. I can only describe it as magical. The plankton emitted a green light with the disturbance of movement. It felt like I was shooting green sparks out from the tips of my fingers. For a span of 10 minutes, I was Harry Potter and I was able to create magic.

The weather was like clockwork, sunny throughout the day, cloudy with thunder & lightning at night. Watching the lighting show every evening was a highlight. I didn’t capture any lighting as I was too slow with my camera but here are 2 with how it lit up the night sky.

This was another nightly ritual some tourists would participate in. Lighting floating lanterns.

While Jenn did everything to work on finessing her tan, I did everything to avoid it. I explored the island’s jungle terrain in the shade.
I kept seeing people disappearing towards the North end of the beach so I decided to take a stroll, and by stroll I ended up in a sweat inducing climb.
I ended up in Tonsai beach, where the rock climbers stayed.
Here are a couple in the midst of their climb.

This was Pranang beach at the Southern tip and it had its own special cave for exploration.
But before venturing through the water to the cave I came across this:
a colourful giant shrine full of penises.
There was a sign telling a legend of a lovely damsel who was being ravaged by a creep and how another came to her rescue and then everyone got turned into an island by a magical being. And now it’s a shrine for luck & fertility. Could I have muddled that explanation even more?! I skimmed through the information because I was so fascinated with all the random penises. I continued on.

I convinced Jenn to explore “The Diamond Cave” with me. We did not see any diamonds. The path was covered in guana, bat droppings and we only encountered people on our way out. The rest of the time we scurried through the screeching bats, praying they weren’t the size of dogs or foxes and their droppings.

There were signs indicating paths to a View Point & a Lagoon, and I certainly wasn’t one to say no to beautiful and free! They shared the same initial grueling climb, 5-6 stretches of steep vertical climbs.
Then came a fork and I choose to head towards the lagoon while all the others before me picked the view point. The path started to descend
then steep drops,
followed by death drops.
Two factors that didn’t help: the nightly thunder & lighting was often just that, rumbles and flashes, and often not accompanied by rain, the fact that I choose to do this after a monsoonal rain the previous evening made everything muddy and slippery. And the fact that I had on cheap thong sandals. Bad combination.
I had caught up to a Norwegian man who was pondering his next move to descend. We scoured the terrain for indications of how to safely go down and finally found a crevice where a rope guided you down. He was much larger than me and had to remove his backpack to fit through the hole. Here’s a photo of the crevice, even now it’s barely visible, I’m surprised we even saw it.
Destination reached. The Norwegian and I shared a laugh because both of us had the mental image of the bluest lagoon, like the movie. This was certainly not it. But it was still breathtaking in its own way.
The lagoon was almost entirely enclosed by a 360 degree sheer cliff drop, with the exception of where we trekked through. It must have been just as impressive to see it at the top of the 50+ meter rim. We were the only 2 people around. Some bird calls filtered through, but everything else was muted by the enclosure.
We stood & pondered in silence and then agreed to leave together since if one of us injured ourselves the other can at least continue on for help. The way back was perhaps 10% easier since I know I’ve accomplished it, but the last lag towards the lagoon was easily 10/10 in difficulty due to the slippery terrain.
Me, exhausted, dirty, drenched in sweat but alive and back on solid ground!
I must be masochistic but I was very curious about the other fork in the road, the Viewpoint. The next day with a sore body from using muscles that I don’t often use I tackled once again the same vertical climb. I took the other fork and reached the Viewpoint within 3 minutes, unlike the 30 minute descend to the lagoon. I was highly rewarded. The view is Northwest in direction, and this is East Railay with its blotches of mangroove trees and short stumpy sand line. Like I said, it’s far from ugly.
This is West Railay, and the beach in view is Tonsai.

Here’s another interesting aspect of nature that I loved. Crab Art. These crabs varied in size from a penny coin to the extreme miniscule, most were tiny like this guy, the size of a baby’s nail.
They filtered the nutrients from the sand once the tide receded, and in the process rolled these lovely spherical sand balls, creating an array of work that I found stunning.
Space ship
City grid Roundabout
Super Electric Guitar
Last of the Mohicans
Then allow your imagination to go from the smallest of details
To an entire beach front covered in crab art. Whaaaatttt?! Isn’t nature spectacular? It broke my heart to see them being trampled, even though I was also a culprit, but it’s nice to know that the very next day another beautiful array of work would be created by these little crabs.

I said my goodbyes to Jenn and watched her aboard the airport bus, back to cold Canada. I stayed in Krabi for a couple of days and discovered these oddities along the water banks. I don’t know what they are, but I’ll call them tadpole fish.
They were slender and long, but no larger than the length of a hand. They used their fins to maneuver and scurry overland, often battling one another for possibly territory. You can tell they were about to battle when their dorsal fin stood fanned out.
I saw them swimming in the waters, but yet across this clearing of perhaps 1.5 meters,
they all skipped over the waters.
Strange non?

Posted by chang2n 00:15 Archived in Thailand

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Love it! Great recap of the highs and lows of lovely Southern Thailand. Those waters, those colours! I wonder if I fully appreciated it at the time . . .

I totally forgot about your discovery of the penis shrine which was hilarious to re-read/see pictures of. I had also forgotten about that farce of a "Diamond Cave". Bat Shit Cave is a more appropriate name.

Although your crab art fascination was obvious, I didn't realize you had captured so many images! Oy! I think you forgot some meaningful adjectives when detailing the goodbye, i.e. tearfully, sadly, etc. Hahaha. xoxo

by Jake

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