Today was a really wet day, and I was a litle disappointed. The good thing about rainy days is that it forces you to rest, although being restless is something that I am naturally good at, so it was especiallyÂ hard. We didn’t realize when we got up…our resort’s kitchen is closed during low season! Aside from the free coffee and tea, we were on our own for grub. Not too bad until you realize that you have to trek all the way down steep slippery steps then down a rocky trail, past loud pumps and a pile of trash just to get some toast. Garden View Resort will be really nice…in a few years!
At coffee, we met Susan from London, who quit her job and moved to Ao Nang with her Thai boyfriend. She was older and seemingly free-spirited, having quit her stressful job at the onset of the recession in search for a more fulfilling, stress-free life. What she didn’t realize is that getting a teaching job in Thailand is very difficult. The company that places English teachers in schools stopped calling her because she refused to work 10 hour days 6 days a week. “This is how Thai people work” is what they would say to her, which is true. Thai people, as we are finding out in most of southeast asia, normally work 6-7 days a week, with only a few days off a month.
We ended up eating breakfast with a guy named Josh from Minnesota, who boarded a plane to Bangkok the day after he turned in his master’s thesis. Do you see a running theme here? People wanting to get the hell away from their normal lives! Anyway, breakfast was good Â– fried eggs with rice and soya sauce — yum. Tooled around a bit, ate greasy Paad Sa Ew at Sawadee restaurant, then walked over to 123 Wall and Muay Thai Wall to watch people climb.
Thai climbers are in amazing shape and know the area like the backs of their hands. All of them learned to climb on these very cliffs. How amazing is it that their neighborhood crag is home to some of the best sport climbing in the world??Â We thought about hiring a guide, but honestly I didn’t want to be climbing around other gringos such as ourselves, so we moved on.
Later we went toÂ Phra Nang because we heard there were some quieter places to boulder. There was nice long 7a traverse along one of the walls which was nice and tweaky (it’s all limestone here).
We did a little exploring and found a “shrine” in an area in which the locals call Fertility Cave. In short, there were a bunch of small statues and wood carvings of penises stacked on top of each other, of all shapes and sizes. Although it’s not at all realated to their religion, some Thais believe that they will be blessed with the ability to conceive if they pay a visit to the area.
It started to rain a bit more, so we headed back. On the way we stopped at the tiny Joy Bar, which was barely big enough to fit 15 people standing. There was a large seating area beside it, but everyone was just hanging around the bartender, who played some awesome downtempo music on his laptop. We thought we’d just pop in for a drink, but ended up staying for 5 hours, talking to various people — Mathieu and Marlene from France, who actually lived in the Caribbean, Lisa from Australia, Sabina from Austria, Phil and Adam from London, and Lee and Bambos, who were also from London.
Quite a night with plenty of Sangsom (Thai whiskey) and Cokes flowing. We even had DELICIOUS rotee (Thai crepes) with banana, smothered in nutella. Best bar food ever! I even showed everyone our house on Google Earth! Talking to Lee and Bambos, we found out that we all were in Railay mainly to climb, so we decided to meet up the next day to set out and explore the walls. Lucky for us they brought rope, draws, harnesses, and a trusty guidebook. Woo-hoo! I love it when everything falls into place and we get to hang out with some really great people in the process 🙂 We practiced our horribly limited French over a lovely dinner with Mathieu and Marlene, then trekked back to our bungalow to turn in for the night.