Savage Tans in the Andamans
Hearing about somebody else’s beach-hopping holiday is probably about as exciting as hearing about their dreams (“And then we saw some MORE fish, but they were slightly different…”); nevertheless, here’s a brief rundown of our May in southern Thailand:
First prize for sheer beauty goes to Railay Beach in Krabi, on the Andaman side of the peninsula. Railay has the same karst formations that wowed us in Vang Vieng, Laos and Vietnam’s Halong Bay (apparently back in the day the karsts in those places—and some in China—were all lined up, until a massive battle of two tectonic plates rearranged things in this part of Asia). How can one tire of seeing giant green-Marge-Simpson’s-hair-shaped islands rising straight out of the water? A very pretty walk past some monkeys and some caves leads to a stunning beach with cliffs on both sides and a fertility shrine at one end.
Because it was the low season, we could afford to stay at the swank Railay Bay Resort. Railay’s known as a great rock climbing spot, but we could barely bestir ourselves for the climb out of our beachside pool chairs in search of coffee. Unconscionably, the resort only served Nescafé, and real coffee was being sold at Starbuck’s prices, so after a week or so we managed to head for the next spot.
We continued to live like swells at Lanta Villa on Koh Lanta. The beach, though very long and wide, wasn’t as nice as at Railay, but the food was much better. Instead of settling for Westernized Thai food at Western prices, we got to eat delicious pork chops and spicy kaffir-lime-festooned chicken at local places. Between the sunny days by the pool and the air-con, HBO-filled nights, I must’ve lost several thousand brain cells. I wish I’d kept a list of all the books I’ve read on this trip; I must’ve run through another dozen trashy mystery titles during that week.
Across the peninsula on Koh Phangnan, there was NOTHING to read except for one copy of O (Oprah Winfrey’s magazine) and several copies of the Australian Reader’s Digest. After a few days, we found ourselves feeling strangely upbeat, making life-goal lists and all…. FMP still means FileMaker Pro to me: we stayed at Mae Haad Cove, on the other side of the
island from the famous full moon parties. Our only companion was the sweet proprietor of our guesthouse (a widow who shared her homemade chocolate chip cookies with us) and her dogs. The dogs loved to go swimming with us. Or rather, they loved to follow us into the surf, become terrified, and fling their wet doggy bodies into our arms. We’d hold them above water for a while, park them on a jutting rock, turn and swim away, and turn again to find them dog-paddling into our arms once more. I think they gave us lice (all taken care of now, thank you very much), but it was worth it.
Koh Samui was our last island before we flew to Bangkok and then to Bali to meet my folks. The most Floridized of all the places we stayed, we decided to skip any pretense of learning about Thai culture there and instead focussed on Western culture, by way of the excellent pub grub on offer nightly in the BoPhut/Fisherman’s Village area. There’ll always be an English fry-up….