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Shake'n it Up

Nature's Resort: All Insects Welcome.

THAILAND | Wednesday, 25 March 2009 | Views [557]

Ko Samui was a lovely introduction to the islands, but Molly, Hannah and I were ready to leave the touristy chaos behind and hit up the less populated beaches.

On our way to Krabi (a one-night pit stop) we met Nikki, our new friend from the UK. The four of us connected immediately on our 10 hour road trip. We all had so much to share, to learn, to laugh about. I couldn't have asked for better company. Our early morning adventure began in an 8-seater van, which led us to a ferry, to bus, followed by a 1/2 kilometer walk, to another bus, then, finally, a taxi to our final destination: Mansion A Guesthouse in Krabitown. Another example of the impossible act of arriving from point A to point B without any road blocks.

Krabi wasn't anything too exciting. It was simply a place to sleep and rest up for the continuation of our island trek.

Next stop: Railay. A rock-climbers dream. The longtail boat ride from Krabi to Railay was incredible. Huge cliffs resembling larger-than-life mummified animals with wax-like extremities popped up everywhere. Some of these rock formations were covered with lush green vegetation. During low tide, the rocks curved inward and created an illusion as if they were floating above the surface of the ocean. Haystack Rock looks like a pebble compared to these formations!

An hour and half later, the four of us arrived on the East Coast of Railay. Railay Beach is very unique considering it's a peninsula and you can walk from one side to the other in less than five minutes. The four of us developed a brilliant strategy of finding accommodations. Molly and would explore and hunt for bargain rooms, while Hannah and Nikki relaxed in the cafe with their coconut shakes.

My tummy was grumbling and I was still a little fatigued from the boat ride, but I was up for the challenge of exploring the peninsula (or isthmus as we referred to it). We ventured from the East side, to the west side to find that hotel rooms were super spendy. I did get some advice from fellow travelers advising us to hike over to Tonsai, the next beach over, for more affordable accommodations. Unfortunately, we couldn't just walk over to Tonsai. During high tide, the easy, 5 minute path to Tonsai was submerged in water, so we discovered option B, a 20 minute hike, jump, climb up the rocks and over to the neighboring beach. Please keep in mind; this was all done in my leather flip flops. I would never attempt this trek in flip flops back in Portland, but Thailand is an exception.

Tonsai was different. It's an intense blend of hippies, rock climbers, back packers and free spirits. Totally rustic but totally affordable. After scoping out 3 bungalows, all pretty similar, Molly and I settled on the cheapest option: Nature's Resort. They looked just fine during the day. Queen-sized bed, mosquito nets, a 50% toilet and running water...we had roughed it before on our treks, why not rough it again, island style?

Bad move on our part. Not only were lowering our standards, but we were going to be roughing it in the rain. A huge monsoon burst open as the four of us boarded the longtail boat to the other beach. Our backpacks were soaked to the bone. Luckily, all of my clothes had been sealed in ziplock bags...but the odor of a wet backpack was quite foul.

It just gets worse...evening hours hit Tonsai and I made the mistake of going back to my bungalow and turning on the light. A flock of winged insects flooded my room and I nearly ran out the door screaming. I would have been okay with flies or mosquitoes, but these creatures looked dangerous and I didn't want to have anything to do with them. It was going to be a long night.

Nikki had left us hours ago for nicer accommodations in Railay, very smart move on her part. So, the PDX trio decided to make the most of it. We found some grub, some beer and some evening entertainment. The party of the night was a live reggae band covering Bob Marley, Jack Johnson, along with some of their own beats. It was jamm'n. Nothing like I've ever seen or experienced before. Locals were busting out their "twist and shout" moves, backpackers were jumping up and down, side to side, and the hippies were just swaying back and forth. All of this was taking place outside, a few steps from the beach under a clear, starry night's sky. I would have rather spent my entire evening at the bar than going back to my bungalow. But that's what traveling's about...experiencing it all. If I could survive one night of exotic insects, bed bugs and dirty conditions, I could survive anything :).

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