Thursday, January 10, 2008

On Railay Bay

On the 6th I awoke to what sounded like a busy highway just outside our door. Knowing that there were no roads anywhere near us, and that the only way to get to Railay was by boat, this was a little confusing. I shortly realized that it was the sound of the longtail boats, arriving at the island and leaving again. Dozens of them, with no mufflers, create quite a ruckus. I couldn't sleep, so I got up. Colleen remained completely oblivious to the noise and stayed asleep.

After sitting outside on our balcony, watching the fishermen do whatever it is that Thai fishermen do, I headed down the beach to see if any of the less pricey hotels that I'd checked with the previous day might have room today. No. We'd be staying at the Garden View.

I next ran into some of the Swedes that we'd come over with the night before. It turned out that they'd had a harder time finding a place to stay than we had and were planning to leave that morning. They'd seen a bit of the island already and had had enough.

I went back to our place and got Colleen up for a lovely hotel breakfast of cold eggs, toast and powdered coffee. Lonely Planet had described this island as having the most beautiful beach in all of Thailand, and we hoped to spend a few days here. Colleen and I set off to explore.

And it was beautiful. Just not necessarily on our side of the bay, where at low tide it was a bit of a muddy bog filled with mangrove trees. But there were incredible limestone formations rising out of the sea on both sides of us. We walked to the south end, to find what LP thought was the best beach of all. To get there we walked under beautiful cliffs, with rock climbers dangling all over them. When we reached the beach it was most certainly beautiful. Gorgeous white sands, clear ocean and spectacular cliffs surrounding. Unfortunately, it was also packed with tourists. Hundreds of them swarmed across the beach, roasting themselves due to the complete lack of shade. And dozens of longtail boats zipped in and out, sounding like a motorcycle gang. We were going to give it the benefit of the doubt and give the beach a try. We walked to the less crowded far end, laid our beach stuff out, and tried to relax. Colleen went in for a bit of a swim. But it was no use. We knew that we should be somewhat happy, but we were miserable on the most beautiful beach in Thailand. We packed up our stuff, just as it started to rain, and decided to get the hell out of there.

Over a late lunch we had decided to got to Ko Jam next, specifically because LP said that it was very quiet. We made our way to the tour agent who had helped us find a room before,. She talked us into going to Ko Lanta instead. This was fine, but now when we tried to find accommodation on Ko Lanta we ran into the same problem. All of the places had no room. The agent suggested that we come back in the morning, at 8:30, and try the hotels again, as many don't know who is checking out the next day and we'd have better luck then. We didn't have much choice.

I was a little nervous about the lack of planned accommodation, but didn't have much choice in the matter. We went back to the guesthouse to pack up, then went out for dinner on the far side of the bay, Railay Bay West. This is where the pricier hotels were, and it was very nice. Like the beach we'd been on earlier, it had gorgeous limestone formations and fabulous soft sand. But it was surrounded by resorts and loud and chaotic even in the evening. You could tell that during the day it would be even worse than the other beach. Our dinner was wonderful, but we were glad to be moving on.

The next day was to be another travelling day. This time on a boat that left at 10:00. We headed back to our nice guesthouse for the rest of the evening.

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