Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year's Break!!!


“Every time I stand before a beautiful beach, its waves seem to whisper to me: 
If you choose the simple things and find joy in nature’s simple treasures, 
life and living need not be so hard.” 

My obsession with beaches continues…..


After a full week of Christmas celebrations with Buddhist students, I think I'm allowed to indulge in my passion.  This morning, I grabbed my bag and headed out the door.  I could've taken a taxi for 50 baht, but hell, this is vacation.  Nothing like a tuk-tuk with the wind in your hair to put you in the mood.







There were only two planes on the tarmac at 9:30, Nok Air and Air Asia. 
This time I'm giving Air Asia a try.  I like the bird look better though.

                       

The airport in Bangkok always seems to have something amusing to entertain me…


a mural that made the viewer a part of it… hidden cameras


                  

                                              Love the packaging!


No food on the plane, so I got just a little snack….



to go with the teeniest oranges I brought with me from the market.

To get to Railay Beach I flew from Ubon to Bangkok, then Bangkok to Krabi.  Each flight was only about an hour.  Once in Krabi, a van met me for the 45 minute drive to the long tail boat that would ferry me to Railay.





The ride in the long tail boat was breath-taking!  It really feels like you're entering another world surrounded by limestone cliffs.










Railay is really a peninsula, but can only be accessed by boat  since the limestone cliffs cut off access to the mainland.  There are four main areas:  Phranang, West Railay, East Railay,  and Tonsai.  I am staying on East Railay, covered with mangroves, and not so good for swimming.  However, West Railay is only a five minute walk to West Railay (better beaches), and five minutes along an alternate path to Phranang… my favorite.




I wasted no time getting into my room, changing, and heading to the beach.  SPF15?



The path to Phranang beach takes you through the caves, and passes right by all those climbers scaling the limestone cliffs.  I recognized the carabiners and belaying ropes from my Sargent Camp days, but these guys were hanging upside down at times!




 

 

The guy on the right was a crazy climber!!!!

But….. the sun was high and I am not about wasting time when trying to get a little color. 
So, the beach at Phranang…..


Long tails line the beach, actually claiming a large section for their own.  I love the long tails, so I didn't mind walking a little further down for space.








If the long tails aren't transporting passengers to other islands, they're selling food.



The prices aren't bad…. 80 baht for lunch, and it is so delicious!


cutting fruit becomes an art form...


more corn on the cob in this country than you can imagine


all storage, cooking, and serving takes place on the boat



red curry beef (day 2)


green curry with chicken (day 3)


and of course, the fresh coconut (thinking of you, Mathew)
sans alcohol



My personal chef, Mee-la (in the pink).
She actually understood my Thai and encouraged me to use it whenever I came over to order







I made friends with another solo traveler and we took turns taking pictures of each other!



I can't get enough of these long tails!


So, it was back to my room, get a bite to eat, and settle in.  But…..
there were monkeys on the path home!



You'll have to forgive my obsession with monkeys…. I couldn't stop myself!




I walked over to East Railay and had a little something to eat (gotta sample the flavors)





and finally the time to check out my hotel….

 







An early night as my plan was to see the sunrise.
5:30 AM is still dark, but it was obvious that the clouds (probably due to storms in Malaysia) were going to make the sunrise a non-event.  Nontheless, my morning made me aware of the similarities of island life around the world.  On St. John, everything was brought in to the island, food, supplies, water, workers.  At 5:30 I was able to see the same scene unfold at Railay.



Long-tails bringing the workers in as there are no accommodations for them on the "island"





All waste needs to be transported off the island.



and of course, all drinking water and other beverages must be brought in.




A little sleepy at this point, but never too sleepy for breakfast buffets!










These hot dogs are served everywhere!  In Ubon they even roll them in batter and deep fry… yuk.

Having had my fill, and still attempting to fit into my bathing suit,
…. a return to the beach by way of the caves.












The Legend


Princess Cave
The cave, on the east side of the Railay Bay is famous for its wonderful stalactites and stalagmites. Since ancient times, Phra Nang (Princess) Cave has been where fishermen, before going out to sea, have made offerings to the symbolic Phallus of Shiva (known as the Siwaleung or Palad Khik in Thai).
The fishermen, who say the cave is the home of a mythical sea princess, believe their offerings will bring them success in their fishing and protect them from danger, but what is more remarkable is that the cave contains a large collection of carved wooden phallic symbols, offerings and other objects believed to help with fertility. 
My boatman told me that some fishermen do still come here to make offerings to the princess but that the number is shrinking. I don’t know what to think of this cave. Actually, I do – but I’d rather keep my opinions to myself. So instead, let’s see what other visitors have to say.




Yes, that was interesting to happen upon  :)

More beach scenes….







and beach food…


(didn't really know what "fried pink sweet" was)

some bar hopping…


Halle, Ben, and Ai at the Bang Bang Bar


and a quick change for real food.


baracuda

Blue Marlin








Blue Marlin!


a final quiet night before New Year's Eve…




dining on the floor


or supported by red mango roots...



And finally, decked out for the big celebration!!!








I think this kitty was doing some ya ba




And I even caught some little ones anxiously awaiting the festivities








So, 2014 has arrived!  2013 was good to me, but I'm thinking 2014 might be even better!  I can't say it enough…. I am one lucky woman!

  


Happy 2014 to ALL!!!