The beginning of our 1.5 weeks in Thailand was spent on the west coast, in the town of Krabi. After a quiet 40-minute taxi ride from the Krabi airport to our accommodations at the Bananas Bungalows, Marie and I arrived at what would become my personal paradise for the next five days. Below are my thoughts on our five days in Krabi – those I had during my stay which were written in my journal appear in quotations, while the rest are my reflections some months later.
Day 1: Arrive In Krabi
“We’ve been in Krabi for a few days now in our little beach bungalow, and it’s been amazing. We have our own small bathroom, and there is a little restaurant/café that serves amazing, inexpensive Thai food so we barely need to leave our room to get all the food and fruit shakes we could need. Around 7 each night, there’s a communal dinner with a menu that changes every night.”
The communal dinner was a perfect way to meet the other people staying in the dorm room and other private bungalows. I made a friend the first night and we took bikes in the dark after dinner, riding through dark dirt roads and eventually parking the bikes to climb up a steep dirt hill, only to continue our trek through the woods. After some 3 km of wandering in the dark in which I was beginning to fear wildlife and adventure, we miraculously found what we were after – a path leading us to a hidden beach. After climbing and jumping down some rocks, we emerged from the tropical brush and found we had a beach to ourselves with water so warm it felt like taking a bath. We talked in the ocean for a few hours, swirling the water around the see the bioluminescent plankton that were lighting up underneath the surface and taking in the stars in the open sky before finally making our way back.
Meeting and connecting with strangers like that, out of the blue and so intensely, has been one of the most magical aspects of travel for which I’m so grateful to have experienced. It’s happened a fair few times though that I meet someone when travelling whom I can talk with for hours, even though it’s our first meeting. It reminds me that we humans are very alike, no matter where we come from. There are people in all corners of the earth with whom I can share dreams and stories and friendship, even if we know the next morning we are parting ways likely never to cross paths again. I think travel can open people up to deeper conversation in ways that are more difficult at home because you are so aware of the ephemeral nature of your relationships abroad. Knowing everyone is coming and going, crossing paths for just moments at a time, people tend to cut the bullshit and start talking about what’s really important to them off the bat. To date, there are a few people I’ve met travelling that I haven’t seen in months or even years, but to whom I feel more closely connected through our short conversations than people I interact with on a weekly basis. It’s a wild and unpredictable thing, friendship, and part of what continually draws me out of my own country.
Day 2 (Mar 8): Krabi
Marie and I were scheduled to do Bob’s Booze Cruise this morning but miscalculated times and missed our ride.
“We suspect we weren’t really ready to go that day so we didn’t try very hard. But we were able to reschedule both the cruise and our hostel for the night to the next day so we could relax another day. Instead I went out at low tide walking around singing and enjoying my time.”
When the tide was low, you could walk off the pier on the beach out probably over a mile. There were so many tiny crabs springing out of holes buried in the sand that it took a bit of focus not to crunch the little guys, but they were pretty adept at avoiding me too. I walked out far enough that I thought I would be safe to sing as loud as I wanted, plopped Marie’s sound-cancellation headphones on my head, and turned up the volume on my music. When I finally walked back some hour or two later, I was informed that you could, in fact, hear every word I was belting quite loudly. Sound carries reeeeeeally far on the beach, lesson learned.
Later I took a kayak out with my adventure partner from the previous night in search of another secret island located on one of the giant tropical tree rock formations off the coast of the property. When the tide was low you could walk ¾ of the way there, but at high tide we were kayaking for a solid hour or more. It was well worth it, as we were successful and had yet another beach to ourselves to soak up the sun for the evening. We kayaked back just as the sun began to set and it was fully down by the time we got back – another slight scare for me, but we survived!
Unfortunately we missed the communal dinner, but we went next door to a local restaurant that had even cheaper food that was equally delicious. One of the things that charmed me about Krabi was that although there were few Thai people in the Bungalows where we stayed, it seemed largely residential just outside the property. You could visit small Thai shops selling grocery and hygiene items, grab a bite at a family-owned restaurant for a few dollars, and see houses that looked like real people lived there. It was quiet if you wanted it to be, but there were plenty of things to do if you wanted a more energetic experience, which really suited my needs at the time.
Day 3 (Mar 9): Thai Islands: Koh Phi Phi
The next morning, we were successful in making our Booze Cruise transportation arrangements and found ourselves on Koh Phi Phi island after a taxi and a ferry.
“We spent a day and night in Koh Phi Phi for our booze cruise which was a whole different culture despite the island being on an hour and a half ferry ride from Krabi. Stepping off the ferry in Koh Phi Phi, we were met with a flurry of people trying to sell you hostel accommodations, tours, and transportation – all yelling into the throng of tired backpackers lugging huge bags in the heat. We were happy to have only brought small bags, leaving our other items in the bungalows for the night.
The streets were lined with shops selling overpriced sunscreen, swim suits, cover ups, tattoos (bamboo style), and any other classic tourist island trinkets you could want. After checking in to our booze cruise (Captain Bob’s), we made our way to a crowded Mango Café where we’d been given a 10% off coupon I forgot to redeem. I had my first mango sticky rice and the biggest open-faced tuna sandwich I’ve ever seen. After a leisurely lunch, we finally boarded for our booze cruise and found ourselves seated next to four American boys on spring break from Georgetown, who were very loud from the start.
We went to 5 islands over the course of the 6 hours, starting with one where monkeys were roaming all over to collect peanuts from cruise travelers, to which they’d allegedly grown quite accustomed. It was cool to see them so close and have them gingerly take peanuts from your hand, but extraordinarily unnatural and touristy. Everyone was shoving the cameras in their faces, crowding around them, and it didn’t seem like a very authentic or healthy environment.
After the cruise, we made our way to our hostel, which was an odd one-roomed 10-bunk arrangement where the hostel owner slept beneath us. After he had assured us roughly 30 times that we were safe and didn’t need to worry, we befriended an English girl who seemed highly uncomfortable in the previously all male dorm, and set off for dinner with two boys from our hostel.
We had dinner before heading to the beach, where we saw some fire shows (people swinging flaming ropes and sticks around in artful fashions). We also participated in some limbo competitions where you’d get a free shot of something like Hypnotic for trying. The Thai men often running the various activity stations took turn doing limbo stunts too, including one guy who carried Marie on his knees under the lowest limbo rung, as she planed and tried to suck in her boobs so they wouldn’t hit the pole.”
After exploring the night life a bit more, we returned back to our dorm to try and sleep, leaving in the morning as soon as we were both awake. We had a rather unsatisfying breakfast and then caught the ferry back “home” to our bungalows, which I had missed dearly.
Day 4 & 5 (Mar 10): Krabi
The rest of our time on the beach was slow-paced and relaxed. We spent time each day enjoying breakfast, and lunch, talking with other hostel goers over the communal dinners. Marie and I both spent some more time listening to music and reading, lounging around on the hammocks on the property, swimming in the ocean at night, and petting the 8 cats and dogs that lived in the Bananas Bungalows.
The property also had a massage hut, so on our last day we both decided to indulge and get an hour-long massage. It came out to somewhere around $10 dollars after tip and was one of the most relaxing massages I’ve had – the ambiance of the nature and tropical breeze doesn’t hurt. I highly recommend it.
Day 6 (Mar 12): Flying out of Krabi.
Leaving Krabi and our amazing bungalow on the beach, my overwhelming thoughts were about how I could have stayed much, much longer. After getting nearly three meals a day, unlimited beers, a ½ kayak rental, a few souvenirs, etc. we spent about $100 for the five days, not include the ~$27 it cost per night for our bungalow, which was split between the two of us. We could have budgeted better if we wanted – we got fruit smoothies or beers for almost every meal, coffee daily, and did not hold back about eating – but this was still one of the least expensive legs of a trip that I’ve had for the value. Incredible views, friendly staff and guests, and secluded and quiet property with water access just a pier away left us feeling like there wasn’t much else we could have asked for during our stay. Our five days in Krabi may not have been packed with cultural immersion, museums and attractions every day, or crazy parties the likes of which you might find on some other Thai islands, but it was just the respite I needed. Flying out of Krabi, I felt like I had found another place to which I would someday want to return, but that I had the energy for our next big adventure – Bangkok…