Skip to main content

The Land of Smiles: Part 3

Southern Thailand: Beaches

Once cozy in our first class seats, drinks are ordered! It was before noon, so we opt for the breakfast drink- mimosas. Moments after we are level in the air, our fold down trays were magically supplied with OJ, Bubbly, water, hot tea, newspaper (that I could not read) and hot wash cloths! We are in route to Phuket. Tom's uncle lives there so he has been several times. It's sort of the 'hub' for that part of the country. From Tom's visits, he suggseted we away from there as quickly as possible and head for a more local vibe. Uncle Buddy decided to spend the week in Phuket and surrounded beaches. When the flight lands and we are off the plane "see ya laters" are said and we part ways. Tom and I had into town to hop on a local bus. It was about a 3 hour bus ride. We jetted to the back so we could have our own space. The bus was an old school Greyhound bus, if you will. Thia music videos were playing and there was little AC. Some windows were up and some down. For the next few hours I would star at this adorable little Thai girl that looked at us the entire ride, in between day dreaming out the window. As we drew close to Krabi Town, the landscape changed dramatically. We went a from crazy busy Mrytle Beach like area to out in the open, with breathtaking views of hard edged limestone karsts. Everywhere. Within 45 in of scenery change we are in Karbi. We were dropped in the middle of the city. We stuck out like sore thumbs. About 20 min later someone from the Hello KR Mansion comes to pick us up. We are riding in the back of a tiny red pick up truck. Do not be fooled by the website. The rooms or hotel did not look like this!. The rooms were about 300 baht a night so only $10 and we were in the heart of waterfront area of the city. The views from the roof top made the minimal misleading rooms ok. The sun was setting behind the karsts in bright colors of pink and orange. The lush green trees were a snuggled in between  the colorful houses that filled the city hills. Once the sun was all the way asleep and out of sight we were off to hunt for dinner. We came across a little bar with outdoor seating and we were sold. From dinner we walk to the water front for Tom to show me around. The night market is closing up and the area is becoming less hectic.

All along the trip I’d noticed bird gages, some with birds and some without. I just thought Thai’s like birds & bird cages. Well in Krabi town there were triple the amount I had seen in the other places visited. Finally I asked, after I saw a sign by a cage that said “Buy Birds Here”. Evidently, you can purchase birds then release them. The Thai culture believes its good luck to release birds back into nature. We skipped this lucky charm and heading to Joy Bar. The owner of the bar is there and he’s a very talented watercolorist for $1200 baht (around $36 ). It one of the things I wish I had bought. They were beautiful landscapes of Thailand- mostly Southern Thailand. After several games of pool with a nice Dutch fella, we headed back to count our zzzz’s.

The morning sun comes early in Thailand and once she has arrived, you have not choice but to rise up and start the day! We packed up and started trekking to the water front to hop on a long boat taxi- or so we thought. It is on the gloriously hot morning that I see my first Thai fight and it was not in a ring. Apparently when a man approaches you in the street for a long boat taxi he is to take you to the dock and direct you to a certain boat. A man approached us, but Tom’s knows the deal so we ignore him. Walk down the docks and meet two other guys, young and travelling like us who are also going to Ton Sai (there are several islands to choose from). We are told by a boat driver we must wait for a couple more people before he will take us to Ton Sai, well that makes since, full boat going to same place. We have 6 people going to Ton Sai, so we think we are set. An older British couple approaches the dock and are going to a boat as directed, they want to go to Phi Phi. All the sudden another man comes up and starts yelling at the man who directed us and the British couple. After several minutes of yelling we are told by a young Thai boy that one guy stole the British couple from the other guy. Next thing we know, punches are being thrown. Hard punches. They are on the ground blood is everywhere and Thai is being shouted in a very angry manner. This went on for about 15 min. I could not believe that no one was stopping them, I mean how long could this possibly go on? Finally two Thai men come and break it up, and that was that. We were all left standing on the dock looking at these two men not much older than us covered in blood, swollen faces and ripped shirts. We decided enough was enough. Someone demands that we get on a long tail with a driver of our choice and leave right then- Our choice of driver was neither of the fighters. So all that craziness and for nothing, since no one got on their boats. Tom told them due to the fight and insane length of time we waited we were all only paying 200 baht, not 300. The driver agreed and we were off. 8 of us and our packs headed off into the beautiful green waters, leaving Krabi and their fighting men behind.

A long tail boat is not what one would call a fast boat, but with scenery that surrounded us, there was no need for speed. I’ve seen a lot of striking sights in my travels, but the beaches and karts of Thailand are unlike anything my eyes had ever seen. The water is a turquoise green and so clear you can see the fish swimming, lush islands with tiny huts, and ornately painted long tails lining the shores of islands. With every direction you turn, there is another obsess karts plunging out of the water, some inhabited, some not.  After making a pit stop on Railey beach to drop passengers, we scoot around the cove to Ton Sai. I remember literally exhaling at the sight of it. We arrived to this rock climber’s paradise mid afternoon. The shore is lined with bungalows and outdoor bars and eateries. Hugging the shore so tightly, you wonder what happens when high tide or a storm rolls through. Soon enough I would find out. Ton Sai is known for their rock climbing. .

First things first, food. We plopped down and order a beer and some grub. Following our late lunch we proceeded down a long dirt road… once we arrive at Passook Resort we stop and Tom said “this is us”. Their sign read ‘Passook Resort, somewhere next to Railey Beach’. Grand total or our local resort is 500 baht or $16 a night. I was quite pleased accommodations: two beds with nets, a dresser and night stand, bathroom with sink, shower and toilet- a real toilet. There was no hot water, but with the heat, the last thing on my mind was a hot shower. The entire Island only using electricity from sunset to sunrise.

We decided it was time to go exploring. Turning left out of our “resort” the long, dirt, jungle like road continues as far as I could see. We pass bars, huts, hostels, restaurants, etc. The long dirt road, wraps back around to the shore. Since it was low tied, we decided we would trek around to Railey Beach. We took our time and just took it all in. Along the cliff side of the island, long tails were resting in the sand b/c the water had been stripped from underneath them. Rocks that hide underneath the water were now out showing off, and it then became clear why I had not yet seen anyone swimming! To get from one Island to the other, you can easily walk it during low tied. Railey Beach had a different feel from Ton Sai. It was much more commercial, you almost got the feeling those people had no idea that a few hundred young, adventurous, traveling souls were huddled up on the other side of the big karts that separated us. Here we found families, much more clean cut tourist, real hotels and restaurants and beaches full of people swimming!

Wandering led us through open karsts to a beautiful white sandy beach. Long tails were anchored along the beach selling beer, roasted corn, chips and drinks. Ladies surrounded the shaded trees selling fruit, snacks and handmade baskets.Just beyond them is soemthing that took me a moment to realize what it was. It was a cave full of wooden painted penis statues. Thai women come here in hope of increasing their fertility- or so we were told. After admiring them, it was time to rest on the beach. Blame it on my ADD, but I only lasted about an hour and half. I left Tom napping while I explored. Around the corner there was a open cave/ karst area. The tide was still low, so I could climb up, down, in, out and around the large rocks tucked inside. The cave was glowing with shades of green what little waster that was captured in there was clear and reflecting off the stone. It. Was. Awesome. Finally, I went to rise Tom up and we kept exploring.  As the day begins to close in on us, we still have enough time to to walk back to Ton Sai. It was one of the most peaceful walks I've ever had. The loud noise from the crowded beaches has seized and all the sudden once we turned the corner toward Ton Sai it was just Tom and I. The only noise was the nature. The sky was pink and shimmering.

Supper time had approached and I knew just where I wanted to go. While walking on the back road, we passed this place with a large outdoor kitchen. They were beginning to set up after lunch when we walked by. After being in the sun and heat all day, the cool shower was welcomed! After washing the salt off us, we strolled down. It was so pleasant, casual outdoor dinning with the fresh catch of the day. All the seafood was resting on ice; veggies were being cut and grilled on open fire surrounded by potatoes. This was unlike any meal I had in Thailand. I’m from Eastern NC, so it felt, smelled and tasted a little bit like home!

Spence and Sara were set to meet us in the next day; they were doing their own little island hopping. We were glad they would be arriving before the full moon came in two days. Full moon parties are huge in Thailand. They started on the island of Ko Pha Ngan in the late 1980s- according to what I’ve been told, there is not actual cool story tied to the full moon party, other than, some people said they had seen the most beautiful sunset and full moon of their life on Ko Pha Ngan and threw a party to invite people to come see/ share the beauty. Welp, it’s gone from 30-40 people to 20-30 thousand. Yes Thousand. People travel from all over the globe to experience it… These days they are experiencing a little more than the sight of a full moon. The parties happen allover the country… even on tiny Ton Sai! The night we attended one, there was a fire show, nigh rock climbing, live music and a couple hundred people huddled along the shore bars taking it all in.

Finally we made our way back to our sleeping quarters to rest up for our snorkeling day that was going to start early the next morning. We had to get off the island before low tide struck us or we would be stuck for hours. The sun and heat greet us and we are up and ready to go within minutes. All 4 of us met at the gear rental on the “main” street. We got all we needed for 50 baht each ($1.50). We split the 400 baht ($12) long tail ride to Chicken Island. Tom had snorkeled here before so was simi familiar with the island and layout. The boat drops us off and the ‘main entrance’ to the island- basically the only open spot on the front end reachable. Most of the island the reef reaches the shore. Sara and I follow the boys with our packs and we find a nice nook up on the trees/ rocks. Small monkeys were everywhere on Chicken Island, they were more of a concern with searching through our stuff over other humans. After getting our gear on we were off! Within seconds we were in the water walking across the reef about ankle deep and surrounded by ocean life… sea urchins in particular, they were everywhere! Once we finally got about waist deep and could float about the water with the fear of getting stung, it was breathtaking.  The colors, fish,coral, reef, seaweed the water was clear and the colors lively. The most remarkable part was when we reached the end of the shallow reef and it literally just dropped off. So far, that we could not see the bottom! We all dove down and to see the side of the reef… the fish were bigger, the coral and reef brighter and even adorned with a huge palm tree that was not apart of the reef (we figured it must have fallen during a storm). Star fish, Angle Fish, Balloon Fish, Clown Fish and Sea Horses were floating around us as if we were no bother at all to them. After several hours of swimming and snorkeling around the island we headed back to catch our boat. It was still only early afternoon and high tide was still filling the cove, so we rented some kayaks once back to Ton Sai and set off again. This time around we paddled our way through the lime stone caves and canals over to Ao Nang. Here we beached our Kayaks and had an expensive lunch at a fancy resort and afterward frolicked in the waves!

Once back to Ton Sai, the tide has come out so we have to carry our kayaks back to shore. Shortly after returning we gathered at the Peace and Love Bar. We were greeted by friends we had met along the way: Pia from Norway, Katie from Italy, Chloe from Korea, Arati from India and Jeremy from the USA! Another Thai rock band has taken the stage. Across the bar in the dirt pit, people gave fire twirling a  shot- all while standing on a tight line. Incredible.

The next day Sarah and Spence headed out to continue the Island hoping and Tom and I had a chill day. We spend the day reading and people watching on Pra Nang Beach. The cave that we walked in earlier in the week was now at least 6 feet deep in water. It was incredible to swim around in the cave that was once just a puddle. We climbed to the top of the rocks and jumped off, into the crisp, cool, clear and clean water below! We played from 11:30 to 4. Noticing it was low tide, we decided to walk back to Ton Sai. I was set to leave the morning to start making my way back to BKK to fly out tomo eve. We ate well, took in our last night and crawled into bed early as a horrendous storm rolled in. There would have been nothing worse than being hung over on a 24 plus hour gaunt home.

Leaving day approaches quickly. From the moment I woke up I was saddened. I was sad to leave the beauty and culture of the inspiring country I had been visiting, exploring and learning about and most of all I was sad to leave my bestie, Tom. We took a long tail to Krabi and a bus to Phuket. We arrived early so we had lunch on the water. The Coast of Thailand is edgy but peaceful. We were the only ones in the restaurant. Then it was time. Tom and I hugged long and tight then I got in a cab and was off to the airport. When I arrived in Bangkok I had 6.5 hours to kill. There was NO way I was sitting there for 6.5 hours. So I hoped in a cab and asked to be taken to the Grand Palace. However, it was closed. So from there I went to the weekend market, Chatuchak Market. It’s one of the largest in the world. By this point, I’ve got 2.5 hours to kill before I need to be heading back to BKK to catch my 9pm flight and meet up with Uncle Buddy. About 90% of the stuff at the market was things I would not dare purchase…. And the 10% of stuff I did want, I could not afford or have the room… furniture and beautiful jewels. I hailed a taxi outside the market and we headed back to BKK. This time around, it is pure mayhem. Not like when I arrived after lunch.

In just a matter of seconds after I get out of the cab, I reach for my phone to call Maggie to update her on my flight schedule and realized I did not have my Blackberry! That was the icing on the cake. Right there in the drop off terminal surrounded by hundreds of people, I start to cry. I was so made at my self. I had been in this country for over 2 weeks and traveled all over it via train, bikes, plane, water taxi, kayak, etcc and here I was 2 hours from departure and it was gone, lying in the back of a cab scooting through Bangkok. Following my meltdown, I pull it together and go to the taxi head quarters and try to explain what happened. First things first, they ask for my taxi slip. I thought with that we could just call Mr. up and ask him to come back- I was happy to pay the fee for his return. But apparently, that is not how things work. You have to go to the corporate office and file a report then they call him. Jezus, was all this really a necessary?! With each taxi from the airport, you get a slip with the driver’s name, phone # and taxi #. I filled the report, then they call him and he said he’d return “when he can, within about 30-45 min”. If he was a minute longer I would have to leave and start checking in. 35 min in, he’s back… sadly my phone is not. This end result was going to make the trip home even longer. I was hoping Uncle Buddy would be able to find me! I got a snack and drink and waited at the terminal, in case he showed up. Thankfully he was there when I turned the corner! Once we boarded we are off to South Korea to catch the really long flight home. Mercifully, I had a little guy purchased at the local pharmacy to help me sleep almost all the way home J

No matter where my travels have taken me, I always come back more humble, appreciative, thankful, liberated and lastly, slightly changed for the better. Thailand proved to be no different. In fact, this country of color, smells, liveliness, culture, history, beauty and gentle souls hold a strong tie with Belize, my most treasured travel experience. I have not gotten Thailand or, in fact, South East Asia out of my system. I hope to return and take in more of what this enlightening country has to offer. My heart will be forever warmed by the people I met and the things I saw and experienced while in this tiny country.


  1. Thank you for sharing this article here.I admire this article for the well-researched content and excellent wording. I got so involved in this material that I couldn’t stop reading. Day Trips From Split

  2. Thanks for publishing such great information. You are doing such a great job. This information is very helpful for everyone. Keep it up. Thanks. Read more info about Egypt Family Tours

  3. I am very thankful to you for sharing this excellent knowledge. This information is helpful for everyone. So please always share this kind of information. Thanks. charter boats for rent Trogir


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


We might as well tell you some cool stuff about where we live (well, I live here, and its basically Brooke's second home). Little background of Raleigh, NC: 1771- Wake Co was created 1788- Raleigh was named the State Capital .... previously it was New Bern, NC (my home town). The Capitol was moved to Raleigh to centralize it. 1792- Raleigh was officially "established" The City's location ( g'ment stuff) was chosen because of a local tavern called Issac Hunters. Members of the commission were fond of a little pub called Isaac Hunter’s Tavern (located in the vicinity of where Old Wake Forest Road is today), and tasked with resolving this controversial issue, the commissioners gathered at Isaac Hunter's in March of 1792 to work. Ten days later after enjoying the hospitality of the tavern and the nearby home of State Senator Joel Lane, they reported back to the legislature their decision that the new capital should definitely be with

Wild Wild West

Last September I had the pleasure, a rare pleasure, to stay at Bar TT Ranch outside Dillon, Montana. Before arriving at the ranch, we made stops in Jackson and Yellowstone! Ten of us stayed on the ranch, women from all walks of life in Raleigh. However, since it was my birthday, 4 of us flew out a few days early to explore Jackson and Yellowstone! I could not have asked for a better way to turn 35. Sally , Alice and Sharon are all living & working in Raleigh to create, build and give back to our community. All three of them have inspired me to not only be better but to do better! We flew into Jackson with the Grand Tetons greeting us with their jagged points. We popped in Liberty Burger for beers and burgers before walking the town to shop. I purchased an ornament and the best sunscreen, Trilipiderm . It's fresh smelling, not sticking and very light! To get a better view of the range, we went to Teton Village for a gondola ride. Gondola rides to the top were official


Richmond hasn't ever really been on my mind as a place to visit, but this past weekend I met two of my best girls there and we had the best time!  We stayed at the Quirk hotel and it was colorful, spunky, chill vibes and good customer service. We loved the high ceilings throughout, all the artwork in the rooms and murals in the elevator. There was grand lobby, with the most adorable courtyard with string lights and vines of jasmine with lots of potted flowers... it smelled devine!  Quick also has an onsite art gallery + pretty snazzy gift shop. There faux floral designs throughout the lobby were like works of art!  Brie's cousin and his husband live in RVA, so we have our own private tour guides! Friday afternoon we wandered around VA Museum of Fine Art and saw work from Beauford Delaney, Julie Mehretu, Helen Frankenthaler, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Sari, Dienes, Dorothy Gillespie, Roy Lichtenstein, Henrique Oliveira, Dale Chihuly and so many others!  Much to our delight,