I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself as I woke up in my Chiang Mai condo this morning and said, “well, back to normal”.
After finding a long-term condo in Chiang Mai, I dropped my luggage off and hopped down south to the Krabi Province to meet up with an old college roommate, Maddie. She’s been living in Taipei for the past year and a half, teaching English. I spent five days experiencing the hostel life in Ao Nang and Koh Lanta with her and another friend of hers. Those past five days were absolutely unforgettable. The people I met, the things I experienced, and the food I ate have left their crystal-blue mark on my heart forever.
You know those surreal Microsoft desktop screen savers of huge limestone rocks jutting out of an impossibly blue ocean? That’s where I was. I’m not exaggerating when I say that my breath was taken away by the view at least three times a day.
The first full day we were in Krabi, we rented motorbikes (sorry Mom and Dad) and drove up to a mountain temple called the Tiger Cave Temple. In order to get to the actual temple, you needed to climb up 1,260 sweaty, painful, uneven steps. There were times up this steep jungle ascent that you wanted to throw up or just turn around – the climb never seemed to end.
Thankfully, there were distractions – hundreds of other travelers were suffering and laughing with us along the way. Fearless monkeys would jump on your back and try to steal anything they could grab from your backpack. They knew they could get something from you either with their charm or stealth.
After what seemed like agonizing hours, I reached the temple at the top, and you guessed it, my breath was taken away. This massive golden Buddha was benevolently watching over all of the Krabi Province. You could see for MILES (or as the Thais would say, KILOMETERS). It was incredibly peaceful up there. No one spoke. The only thing you could hear was the wind whistling through your hair. Occasionally, someone would ring a giant brass bell, which left a hauntingly beautiful ring humming through the temple. I don’t know if it was just me, but that bell’s lingering noise shook me to my core, almost bringing me to tears. Words cannot describe the beauty of what I saw on the top of that mountain that day. The pictures I have don’t do it justice, but it’s the best I can do for you.
Another unforgettable part of this trip was the people. Thankfully, one of the girls I was with, Sierra, has to be one of the most extroverted people I know. Making friends was easy when she was around. In Ao Nang, we stayed at a Hostel called K-Bunk and everyone there was absolutely remarkable. The Thai ladies working there, B and Cherry, were beyond hospitable and fun loving. The guests were around our age, and were from anywhere from Indiana to England to Norway. The fourteen of us banded together to get a private long-tail boat tour of the islands. We each paid about 40 USD for a 12:30 pm – 8 pm long-tail boat tour. That day was nothing short of magical.
We all crammed ourselves on this charming, traditional Thai long-tail boat and motored off to one of the best days of my life. We visited multiple islands, exploring the white sandy beaches, snorkeling through lively reefs, and climbing overhanging cliffs. I think I asked, “how is this place even real?” at least ten times. At the end of the day, we stopped at Railay Beach for dinner and the sunset. By then, our group was drunk with wonder (and a few beers), and we laughed our way through caves and “secret” lagoons. The sunset there was like nothing I had ever seen – I didn’t think it could get any better….but then it did.
We were ushered back onto the boat after the sun set, and we found ourselves in a pitch black bay. We were instructed to jump into the water for the final event – bioluminescent plankton. As you could imagine, we were all a little apprehensive. “You want us to swim around in this pit of blackness?” Curiosity overtook our fear, and one by one, we put on our snorkel masks and jumped into the obsidian-dark water.
Jumping into that water was one of the best risks I had ever taken in my life. My heart swells when I think about our night-time swim in that bay. I dunked my head in the water and saw millions of iridescent blue specks floating around me. I felt like I was floating in space, surrounded by bright blue stars. Suddenly, the fear that I could be swallowed by the darkness was overtaken by absolute wonder. Every once in a while, I’d take a break from staring into the dark ocean to look up at the sky. The night-time sky looked like it was filled with bioluminescent plankton itself. The stars were incredible. You’d just be floating there, looking up at a massive limestone cliff, backlit by a myriad of stars.
That boat trip was easily a highlight of my trip, and at this point, my life. The day was filled with absolute beauty, laughter that hurt your stomach, and new friends.
Of course, there was so much more that we experienced in my five days in the Krabi Province. I haven’t even covered Koh Lanta, which I’d describe as Thailand’s own Jamaica. Considering how long this post is, Koh Lanta will need its own post. I’ll put an end to this post for now – I’m currently sitting in a trendy little coffee shop a minute’s walk away from my condo and I need to find a job!
Goodbye for now, friends! Here are some more pictures that I couldn’t seem to fit into the story:
One thought on “It’s been a while!”
Living it through you Alex.