The getaway to Andaman Islands
31.08.2009 30 °C
On stepping my foot out of the plane, Krabi Airport gave me the very grave sense of vacation atmosphere. The architechture of the building is simple yet the interior of it provides the whole lot of casual feel befitting the status of this beach resort town. This airport slightly differs from the one in Phuket, in my opinion, where generally, it's more relax and not too "rigid" as of any other airports even those that are in the beach/island status in nature category. This holiday was kept as short as three days, with a pre-booked accomodation that included a one day islands tour package. For a very affordable rates, with 2 breakfast meals and 1 dinner, all inclusive, as well as free airport tranfer to and from the resort, not forgetting a welcome drink, I can't beg for more. The resort is a 5 star rating hospitality, situated at the edge of Ao Nang beach, close to Nopharat Thara beach. The resort provides excellent services as well as basic facilities, including a pool, both adult and children as well as thai body and foot massage services at affordable rates, just by the side of the pool. Rooms on the ground floor have the privillege of instant access to the pool in front of the veranda, where you can basically just be ready to jump in once ready with the right outfit. Other ground floor units give access to the pool relax chair where you can either have a good dayout sunbathing, reading books or just simply relaxing by the pool enjoying the nature.
Krabi is in fact different from other beaches in Thailand, at least this was what I could see and thought. It was a surprise to me at the very first experience because I had the impression, that this beach will be very similar to all the other beaches in the Land of Smiles, with beach chairs accompanied by umbrellas lining up the beaches, packed with holidaymakers. I have been to several others such as Phuket, Hua Hin, Cha-Am, Pattaya and Ko Larn, Krabi is still far less commercialised in comparison to its other peers within Thailand. The main beach of Krabi is Ao Nang where there are loads of retail shops selling various tshirts and souveniers, budget accomodations and also restaurants and pubs available along the main road facing the beach which goes like a L shape direction. As you moved further up towards the direction of Krabi town, Ao Nang beach will not be visible. Many of the boutique resorts are located further down the main Ao Nang commercial area, towards Nopharat Thara beach, where you can afford to have higher level of privacy due to the very low beach crowd and the environment over there is very much peaceful and quiet with long stretch of beach length. You can have some couple of hours of good swim, sunbathing or have some chilling fruit mix. Just as you past through the bridge, the whole stretch of beach is Nopharat Thara. Here, at the starting point of the beach just after the bridge, there are long tail boat services to Railay beach. For those who did not engaged in tour services, this is where you can hop to other beaches in particular Railay which is divided into Railay East and Railay West to explore further. This is a very unique beach where both sides of the beach is divided by karst limestone hills and accessible on a trail track along the base of the hills which will brings you through the some of the most wonderful experience where you can see some of the stalactite and stalagmite with many cave entrances as you walk along. More on this letter. Another site, where long tail boats can be boarded to Railay is in Ao Nang beach, located at the beginning of the beach just prior to the Railay.
Krabi provides accesses to many islands within the Andaman archipelago, including Phi Phi, Ko Lanta, Phang Nga and Phuket. It is also easy to reach other small islands suitable for snorkelling and diving. Tours are aplenty where these are mostly located along the Ao Nang commercial area mentioned above. As for this trip, decided fo bypass Phi Phi since I had been there over the last trip to Phuket. So, decided to head for 4 island tour, Ko Poda, Ko Tub, Ko Kai (Chicken Island) and Ao Phranang. This tour included free flow of drinks, both chill plain waters and carbonated drinks and 1 lunch box. The pier is located at the end of Nopharat Thara beach. We were fetched from the resort early in the morning after breakfast, with a song theaw to the pier. Upon reaching the pier, we were then assembled by the friendly tour guide and ushered to the speed boat that will be taking us for island tour. There were all in 13 of us, a mix of couples and individuals comprising multinational races. The sea was rather rough on that day due to the raining season, where sitting at the front side of the boat not advisable due to safety reason, where you may get injured or flung out from the boat due to the impact of the boat hitting the strong wave. Ko Tub is a very unique island where you can reach the small island from the beach on the opposite side by walking through the stretch of hardened beach sand due to the low tide. This is possible as the stretch of sand was higher than the sea water at certain point of time such as the morning. The water over here was very clear and you can chose to either swim over at either side of the island. Surely, many wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to keep this distinct experience for memory, so you could walk over and while doing this, snapped some photos for your records. While you swim, you will also see many of the marine fishes swimming in group towards you, some attempted to bite on your flesh thinking those were their meals. So, take cautious for those that may be afarid of this, jst as precaution. This was indeed a very great experience because, in normal circumstance, you will only have such opportunity while snorkelling in the open sea. The whole area at Koh Tub looks like a swimming pool with its crystal clear water and really, I find this awesome. Over at Koh Poda, this is another great island with the beach overlooking a single karst limestone right in the middle of the beach. Some steback here include that of the water over here was less clear in comparison to Koh Tub, with some dead corals spread over at some areas under the water which may be dangerous as it will hurt the feet easily should one fails to exersice caution. Other than those 2 factors, generally, this is also a nice place to swim while enjoying the wide view of the open sea with the special limestone in presence. There were also some trees and shrubs around the island which can be very suitable for camping sites. Koh Kai was where the boat stopped for a snorkling experience. For me, it was very similar to Phi Phi. Not many fishes and beautiful corals around which I believed was due to the substantial number of access to human over the years.
Ao Phranang or Pharanang Cave beach has an awesome view of the karst limestone towards the end of the beach with a cave entrance. There were some cement/rock structures scattered around the entrance the cave which according to our guide, resemble that of human being. According to him, legend has it that a wife of a fisheman perished in the cave while waited for her husband to returned home but he never did. Fishermen and also tourists alike were said to be offering flowers an incense to ensure that the spirits rest in peace. This island offers very suitable place for swimming with the flat, clear from rocks and coral sand base. The beach was also quite long stetched and provide beach lovers a good place to relax, sunbathing, swimming and even jogging. This side of the beach is actually the Railey West where as I have explained earlier on accessible through the side trail along the Phranang Cave towards either side of Railay. In summary, Pharanang Cave beach is located on the West of Railey and you can walk your way to the East of Railay from Phranang Cave beach and vice versa. As you walk through the trail, you will get to see many of the stalactites and stalagmites formed thousands of years ago as well as many cave entrances. You plan ahead by walking to Railay East from Phranang Cave beach then head back again for a swim before your boat returned to Nopharat Thara pier at the end of the day. This was a very nice experience.
Krabi town has several ape strcutures being places at some of the traffic lights. This to me may be due to the province abundance of limestone hills, where according to history, human were transformed from this creatures where caves were once their home base. Thus, the province's city council have such an idea of placing ape replicas around the town. The town itself is thring with many activities taking place. There is a shopping mall named the Vogue Department Store, located along Maharat Road, near Soi 8, which is the only shopping mall in town. There are many restaurants serving authentic thai food spread accross the town. The main activities centered around Maharat Road near soi 4 to 10, with a night market popular with locals as well as tourists shopping for inexpensive and delicious thai food. You can walk around town on foot just to explore and sight seeing how it looks like. Travel takes about 45 minutes from Ao Nang beach to Krabi town and regular bus services are available. You can board the bus at soi 8 Maharat Road in front of 7 Eleven store.