So,I have posted two blogs before this about my week backpacking in Thailand.If you’ve already read the first two parts and are here again, THANK YOU SO MUCH!
Now I had already been in Thailand and alone for a good 5 days.Did I get lonely? Yes,that one time when I had dinner alone on my birthday or this other time where I felt that certain Brits had been racist towards me and once when I had an exotic ice cream all by myself.
When I reached my hostel in Aonang Bay (Very smooth commute) I got a bed in the Ladies dorm and at the time, there wasn’t really anyone else in the hostel. So,it was a bit of a downer at first. Even the beaches I had stayed in so far were very happening,this on the other hand was a quiet and fairly dull place(Maybe because it was mid week?). I went to the beach and didn’t find the best weather… I chilled with 2 Chinese girls my age but they could hardly speak or understand english. We had coconut water together and that was that.
I went shopping in the area, good and reasonable stuff. There were 2 Scots and a Chilean in my dorm but they had all gone for overnight visits some place.So, I went down the street and ate at this cute small Italian cafe. The chef and his wife chatted with me a bit since there weren’t any other guests. I went further down the road and sat at Mr.Long Bar which played live music…Sat there for a bit.Perhaps this was as good as it was going to get.
Sadly,since half my day was over by the time I reached and had to leave early the day after I essentially only got one day to pick any activity form the range of activities possible there- Caving, Elephant riding, Kayaking in the back waters and the one I picked-Rock Climbing at Railey Beach (15/20minutes way by a long boat for 100 THB)
NOTE:I booked myself on a full day rock climbing session inclusive of to and fro via an agent I found on Aonang Bay itself for 850 THB. Now the other way to do it would be(In case you’re living at Aonang too) to just catch a boat and then go to Railey and pick your activity package. The catch here is that when at Railey, you will definitely not get anything for lesser than 1000THB plus you’d end up spending on the commute too. So overall, the deal definitely worked in my favour (Also getting to the pier was looked after by the agency)
Okay, this may have been the most challenging activity of my trip so far.
At first, even Railey may appear to underwhelm you but it gets so much better once you move towards the rocks. The rocks are huge and tall.They are limestone rocks and I remember someone mentioning they were part of the largest coral reef in the world. They’re mostly white, unlike I had seen before. I was teamed with a mother and son duo, whose family I later heartily dined with. Our guide was known as the monkey man,famous for his rock climbing skills. He was short, lanky and if I had to describe him, I’d call him a Thai, athletic version of Kailash Kher. I don’t think I stressed enough on exactly how tall the rocks,that we were apparently meant to climb,were!
The kit they provide has a water bottle, ropes,attachments and climbing shoes. So point to take from this could be that there is no need to come wearing sports shoes per se. Once the climbing bit is done, sports shoes aren’t the ideal choice on the beach .I know it now.
We had three targets to complete in total,each higher than the one before. Ty,the young boy from Singapore was fast and wicked easy on his feet and soon got promoted to higher and steeper set of targets. His mom,Taly, on the other hand was taking her time sure but completed every target she set out for(Very impressive).
I know I could be portraying this whichever way I wanted, but the truth is, I sucked. Well, at least at first I did. I couldn’t understand the whole technique of trying to pull myself up and where would be an ideal spot to place my hands. It was starting to get a bit warm. I was bruised at places because I had been holding on correctly. I did not complete my first target and I was already too tired.Then I got the trick,call me philosophical but it was persistence. I managed to reach the second target and I was very happy and I could go home now. But, Taly insisted I stayed and she did the third and the highest climb. I stayed and watched. Once she was done, we said our goodbyes and now it was just me and the monkey guy. Allow me to mention, he was a terrific guide. He stayed on, repeated instructions, pulled my weight and kept cheering me on.
When I started out for my third round, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to complete it. But since I had seen Taly, I knew it could be done. I gave it all I had. It’s physically straining.It was afternoon by now and the rocks were starting to get hot. Each time I was able to hold onto something, I tried exerting all the pressure to pull my body weight up, half suspended in the air. A sense of height too was getting to me. But I got to the top. And, then I let myself free and hanging by the ropes, I looked around at the green ocean, the sun and the sand and I might have teared up a bit. I wish I had shared this moment with my family or my best friends, but this solace was something.
I then dined with Taly and her wonderful family. This Israeli family based out Singapore was as hospitable as it was fun.We sat at the restaurant for close to two hours just talking about the places we had been and were from. So far I had been dining with other solo travellers but now that I think of it, it goes to show so much about them when they invite a total stranger to dine with them while on a family vacation (It was Maya’s birthday the next day too!)
Also, thank you for recommending mango rice.
Another funny thing happened-Indians.
I saw a large Indian family sitting close by and honestly these were the first Indians I came across in Thailand at the time( August, summer breaks over). This uncle ji came upto me and said ” I bet a 100 THB that you’re Indian” “Yes, I am Konpal” “Full name?” “Konpal Patni” “Oh… Jain? We’re Jains too!” and I expect you can imagine how the conversation went and I wont disappoint you,we did have mutual Jain contacts! They also bought me ice cream.
My guide came to see me off. He was exceptionally sweet. I sat at the front of the long tail boat and before I knew it, I was back. I made a long whatsapp call home that night.