This year we are spending New Years on Railay beach in Krabi province. Andy was here rock climbing 20 years ago, and like much of the world, it has changed a ton! I was expecting to be surrounded by climbers and their jargon, and they are here by the bushel, but so is everyone else! At mid afternoon the day we arrived every square inch of the small-ish east Railay beach was covered with sun bathing bodies from all over the world. I really wasn’t expecting that. I guess when the guide books list something as the top 3 activity to do on holiday in Thailand people do it. There are thankfully serious climbers here. Andy’s first day out he met two right off the bat. But most of the folks here have never climbed before. They maybe spend 3 days here hiring one of the local guides to take them out for one day. I’m glad I booked our accommodation back in October, and I understand now why our options were so scant! It’s funny, we’re about 10 days into the trip and I don’t really feel like I’ve experienced Thailand yet. Other than the food, there isn’t that much distinctively Thai on the island, or here in Krabi. It’s the same recognizably tourist-geared shops and activities that you find all over the world. With the functional yet uninspiring concrete and steel architecture that has become ubiquitous on planet earth. While I’m practicing and learning a little more Thai every day, and sticking to Thai food exclusively, I find myself hankering for the North of the country, where I hope we’ll feel a little more immersed in their culture. And I’m very excited to meet the Thai family next week! Location to be determined.
After another plane, a bus, a minivan, and a speed boat (that broke down twice en-route) we finally make it to Koh Lipe island hot, sweaty, and exhausted. It will be nice to stay put for 5 days. Our little cabana has amazing views, and thank god it has AC. I know I came to escape winter, but 90 degrees with matching humidity is a bit much. We spent Christmas Eve on a beach clean up mission with 60+ other folks. We took 6 long tail boats to a beach on an uninhabited island, spent a few hours collecting trash, and swimming, and got a free lunch afterwards. It was awesome, THIS is the kind of ecotourism that needs to take off globally as soon as possible! But it does make you a little sad too, this is not the solution. What are we as humans doing! Everything we make needs to be engineered from the beginning to have a long useful life, that in the end is easily recyclable, or biodegradable. Single use plastics must be banned, and this has to be implemented in society in a way that makes it easy and natural to comply. We spent the evening at a concert of the famous Job 2 Do, Reggae singer (he’s like the Bob Marley of SE Asia) and his band. It was super fun!
After 4 plane rides (32 hours) we got to recover from jet-lag here! It was an emaculately clean apartment on the 22nd floor of this 41 story skyscraper. We walked around a bit and saw absolutely no tourists which was so refreshing. We used the gym, and then went swimming in the “sky pool”. For dinner we walked up the street until we saw some charcoal braziers outside a rather unassuming little restaurant that was jam packed with Thai couples and families. They had one menu with English, but the waitress was still asking us questions we didn’t understand, when an incredibly nice Thai gentleman named Paul came over and offered to help. He told us he and his wife drove for over an hour from another part of Bangkok to eat here! They ordered about 10 dishes for the two of them! It was incredibly delicious. Before this trip I had confided in some that I was nervous about the food. I don’t like spicy food, and I can’t really digest rice too well... I’m not nervous about the food anymore!
We fly on December 20th, and arrive December 21st. My first time crossing the international date line! I've always traveled to India across the Atlantic. I've been reading Kukrit Pramoj's "Four Reigns". Loving it so far. We are planning to meet some family there, so I've been preparing gifts, and practicing a few words in Thai. Mostly I'm looking forward to being warm!
Alison B. Sweeney
Why We Travel?