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February 19, 2007

Exciting Times in Krabi

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I enjoyed myself in Krabi which is good considering how difficult it was to get there.  After the buses, train, and taxi to get there I wandered down to the pier area for some good cheap food from the stalls there.  I met a German fellow, Immo, and had a few beers and chatted with him.  It didn’t take long for the beers to kick in and I got tired early, but we decided to meet there the next day and take a water taxi over to a beach near there.

The water taxi was piled full of people and luggage as some where staying at the beach, but it was big enough and wasn’t going to sink.  The ride over really opened my eyes as there were cliffs coming right up to the ocean most of the trip.  They were covered in trees just like everything here and had straight drops down to the ocean.  I knew this area was known for these formations, but didn’t know they would be so prevalent or impressive.

We arrived at the beach and I spent the first hour just looking around and all of the palm trees and cliffs.  The beach was quite touristy, but at least that meant you buy beer and corn on the cob right there from the vendors going by.  We wandered around a little bit and walked around one cliff to go to another beach.  It was just what I needed to relax after my travels and the water temperature is great.  Warmer than some of the showers I’ve had in the hostels!

The following day we got a bit more adventurous and rented motor bikes so we could go off exploring on our own.  We just had a tourist map which showed the big roads in the area, but also pointed out many of the highlights.  I hadn’t every driven a motorbike before, but picked it up right away and was able to follow Immo to make sure I stayed on the correct side of the road.  We set off for a couple of caves marked on the map and drove right to the first one.  I had brought my headlamp and we walked a little ways in having to crawl in a couple of places.  There were some big rooms, but it seemed to end quickly as it was only from a large outcropping and didn’t really go down into the earth at all.

We got back on the bikes and drove up the hill until we came to a tent city with cars parked everywhere.  It was Chinese New Year and we had stumbled onto one of their celebrations.  We got off and walked towards the temple where everyone was waiting to see a monk and get blessed and leave a donation for good luck.  There weren’t any other tourists there and we got a few strange looks as we looked around.  Across the road we tried a few of the meats being served, how can meat on a stick be wrong?  And a really sweet drink that looked like coke, but was basically pure syrup.  That was enough of that so we got headed up to another cave from.

We passed the elephant trek to a waterfall on the way and were tempted, but kept on. As we pulled up two little boys came running up with lamps wanting us to rent them or have them guide us.  We kept telling them we were ok, and 8 more people showed up so we hurried up the trail real quick.  This cave was literally a hole in the side of the hill and as soon as I took one step in could here bats chirping and starting to fly.  None came towards us, they just flew further back into the cave.  The formations on the wall and in the middle of the room were stunning here.  We wished we had more than one light so we could look around more instead of trying to see where we were going so much.  We continued in quite aways and came to a large pond that we stopped at.  Finally we stepped in and made our way across to the other side, but there was just more water the rest of the way so we decided to turn back.

It is so warm here that the water was not cold at all and we dried off by the time we got back to our bikes, that is when it started to rain.  It got going pretty good so we pulled over and hung out under the overhang of a shack.  It didn’t last too long so we decided to try to get one more cave in.  This one was about an hour drive away and we kept checking to see if we were on track.  We finally decided we weren’t when we saw three tourists walking in the middle of nowhere.  We pulled over to ask them and it turns out they were there with the peace corp, one american and two germans.  We chatted for a bit and they told us where to go, but the really dark clouds were rolling in then.  Just as we got back to the main road it started to come down so we pulled over for dinner and to watch the rain.

It was an absolute monsoon for 45 minutes.  You could barely see the other side of the street for a while and the roads were just filling with water.  We were stilling trying to get back before dark so once it slowed down to a steady rain we took off.  Pretty soon we couldn’t get any wetter and thankfully I had a couple of ziplock bags in my pack for my camera and notepad.  Eventually, it got too bad to drive in again so we pulled over and waited it out in someones garage for another 40 minutes.  By this time it was dark, we were soaked, and didn’t know when it would let up.  It finally did and we cruised back into town.  We were clean from our caving adventure, but really wanted to dry off.  Thank goodness it so warm here.  One hour later the temperature wasn’t any different than if it hadn’t rained at all.

I set up a sea kayak trip for the next morning and was going to catch a bus up north at 4 after that.  I was the first to get picked up which made for a long trip to get there, but it was so worth it.  Our guide didn’t have a whole lot to offer, but he didn’t need to the canyons, trees, and wildlife were enough.  I had my own kayak which was great since I could get pictures and go at my own pace.  Some of the canyons we went through were about 10 feet wide and over 100 feet up above us.

It was a convergence zone between sea and fresh water which where the mangrove trees grow.  They are in the water and their roots are exposed, up to about 6 feet at low tide.  We saw a couple foot long lizard and then got to the monkeys the guide kept saying we would see.  I think he learned English from reggae albums because every other thing he said was “Jah mon”, “No problem mon”.   The monkeys would jump right into the water to get to the other side or to go after the apple pieces we were throwing to them.  That was just until we got close enough when they would jump right onto the kayak and check it out and take the food right from you hand.  It was all happening so quick I didn’t know which one to look at.  They hung out with us for a while and we finally moved on stopping in a little lagoon with cliffs surrounding us.  The last part through the mangrove trees I wouldn’t have wanted to do without the guide as there was not much more than a kayak length to navigate at times and you had to pick your path carefully.  It was a great way to end my stay there and I hope the rest of the days offer so many cool experiences.

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