Krabi, Ao Nang, Tonsai & the Cock Cave

In September last year, Sarah and I had just started seeing each other, she was at her old apartment and I was crashing in Baan Farang with one of her uni mates.  She asked if I wanted to fly down to Krabi with her for a few days – how could I refuse.

Getting to Krabi:

We decided to take the plane to Krabi International Airport from Bangkok’s budget airport, Don Muang.  Even though I literally booked my flight the night before, my return ticket via Air Asia only cost around 3500 Baht including tax (I’ve spent more than that on a night out), so off we were flying to Krabi.

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After an hours flight we arrived in Krabi International Airport, which has to be the nicest regional airport I’ve seen so far in South East Asia.  As the trip was organised completely at the last minute, we had absolutely zero clue where we were planning on going,  where we were going to stay, or what we were going to do.

I had met  someone on a visa run earlier in the year who told me she had a boyfriend who owned a bar in Tonsai, and a former flatmate had recommended Railey Beach, so we booked ourselves on a 100 Baht bus to the town of Ao Nang, about 40 minutes from the airport, and the nearest beach to take a long tail around the coast to our destination.

Arriving in Ao Nang:

Upon arriving at Ao Nang, the first thing we thought was how developed the area was, and how clean.  Usually Thailand is full of poorly maintained roads, even worse footpaths, which are de facto scooter highways and full of street vendors.  Ao Nang on the other hand reminded me of Auckland’s North Shore, with wide streets, shaded areas, functioning public transport, and clear signage.  This was different to the Thailand I’d experienced before.

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We still had no idea what we were doing, and decided to press forward with our plan for some “Cheap Accommodation” that we’d heard of at Railey Beach.  We arranged longtail transport at 150 Baht per person and jumped on the slightly sketchy boats to motor around the coastline.

Railey Beach:

We arrived in Railey around midday, jumped into the water and made our way up the beach to the main “street” if you could call it that (there aren’t any cars here).  We asked around about accommodation and were directed to the other side of the beach.  It was the middle of low season and we were expecting a good deal, unfortunatley there were none to be had, with resort owners wanting to charge top dollar for some pretty run down rooms in the middle of an empty resort.

I hadn’t known Sarah for very long then, and wasn’t really sure of the style of accommodation she wanted.  We decided to venture around the coast to the next beach, Tonsai where my friend apparently lived and where her boyfriends bar was.  This was easier said than done.

Tonsai Beach

Tonsai Beach, Krabi

While it looked like an easy hike earlier in the day, the tide had started to come in, and the rocks were covered in barnacles and other shellfish that could slice you open.  Somehow we managed to make our way bouldering around to the next beach, without slipping over and killing ourselves, or losing our jandals in the process.  Our camera’s weren’t so lucky and one was lost to the ocean below.  It was only later that we learned that there was a much easier route through the jungle on the rocky outcrop above, which would have prevented the loss of the camera. 

Tonsai

Krabi Huts

Wifey and her new Goat fiend

We hit the beach at Tonsai, and started to look for accommodation, which consisted of Bungalows and huts, rather than the expensive resort rooms on the neighbouring beach.  Huts cost 200 baht for those that included a “bathroom” (an imaginative term for a concrete and beer bottle wall, toilet that didn’t flush and cold water shower) and 150 for those without.  We decided to shower in peace and took the one with a bathroom.

Krabi Drugs for Sale

Drugs for Sale in Krabi

The staff were laid back, and by laid back, I mean stoned.  Not just a little stoned, but hot boxing their huts stoned, they were smoking so much weed that it smoke was pouring out of the windows. It was at this stage that we knew we were onto a winner.

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Krabi Beach Huts

Power was intermittent, as it ran on a generator, but cold beer was plentiful due to the icebox.  After coming from busy Bangkok, and dealing with craziness on Koh Phangan, the lack of modern amenities was a relief rather than an inconvenience.

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5 Star accommodation, clearly

The next few days were spent doing nothing more than reading, eating, drinking, swimming and sunbathing, with nothing more exciting than an airborne monitor lizard falling 20 feet from the sky and landing on Sarah’s back as she was sleeping. I’m still now sure who was more scared, Sarah or the reptile.

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Lizards that fall from the sky

Its a Small World

We decided to finally try and track down my friend from the visa run, and her boyfriends bar. After a while we managed to work out that the bar was not in fact on the beach, and that there was an entire village further it the jungle full of rock climbing supply stores (many of the tourists come to Krabi to climb due to the awesome cliffs) and bars.

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Cocktails in Krabi

We finally found the bar, known as “Small World Bar” and its owner Chai Tea. P Chai is an awesome dude (who just so happened to marry a girl whom I met on a Visa Run in Laos), who makes some of the best cocktails we’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking, and some pretty good tea as well. They had one of the best selections of music, mostly classic rock, funk and soul, which isn’t common in Thai bars and some great live reggae from the locals, which you can enjoy while watching travellers attempting not to fall off the slack lines.  This place is a must visit for anyone in the area.

Phra Nang (or the cave of cocks)

I’d read about a Thai practise of worshiping Penis carvings, which I found strange due to the criminality of other penis shaped objects such as dildos and vibrators, and even stranger due to the supposed practise of Buddhism across the nation.  One of the stranger things in Krabi is the Phra Nang cave on the other side of Railey beach, which as well as being below some amazing caves and an even more amazing beach, is full of giant cocks.

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Cocks, Cocks everywhere

It takes a bit of a walk but can be found by going through Railey, walking to the other side and hanging a left.  Follow the beach pathway all the way and you will find the cave.

Apparently these carved dicks (known as lignams) are linked to ancient Indian religions and the worship of the god Shiva (I’ve seen similar but less detailed carvings since in Cambodia as well) and are considered by the local fishermen as good omens and protection from spirits in the water that might cause them harm.  But to us, they were just giant cocks, and worth a good laugh.

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Black Monkey with a big cock

After checking out the cave of cock the girls went for a swim on the beach, which of course had a resort on it.  I was hungry so went to check out the restaurant, after learning that the rooms cost up to 140,000 baht during high season, I realised that their lunches were probably out of our budget and settled for street food (or in this case, boat food).

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Make no mistake, these are huge

One thing to be aware of is the presence of either sea lice and/or jelly fish in the waters here.  Sarah got a bites while swimming in the beach here, and later stung by jelly fish (resulting in urgent treatment requiring mass consumption of ice cream at the nearby store) so be careful.


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Back to reality 

Sarah had uni to get back to, and I had to be back on the islands for various things, so we made our way back to Ao Nang, Krabi and Bangkok, to get back to our normal routines.  All up it cost us around 5-6000 baht each including airfares, transport accommodation, food and booze for 4 days, which isn’t bad considering.  We’ll definitely be back down there again and I recommend visiting during low season if you want to avoid the tourist hordes.

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