Yet another ferry ride and I’m in Ao Nang. From the very beginning I can tell this place is not really for me. Very built up. Very touristic. It’s just resorts and shops sprawling everywhere.
The real gold is Railay. A friend of mine who is very familiar with Thailand told me I had to go over to Railay Beach and do the hike to the lagoon. He warned me it was a bit of climb, but totally worth it. I figure since I have some climbing experience, I should be ok. Saturday night at my hostel, I tried to find people interested in joining me, but I find no takers. I wonder whether I should attempt this by myself. I finally decide to go for it. I’ll regret it if I leave here without seeing the lagoon.
So I’m going it alone. I take a long-tail over to Railay Beach. This beach is only accessible by boat due to the enormous limestone cliffs surrounding it. Once on Railay West Beach, I head down the walking road to the east side. From there I turn right and head south along the beach. Eventually I see signs for what I’m looking for: The Viewpoint and, more importantly, the Lagoon. I look up the trail… Wow. Definitely quite a scramble up.
The first pitch is a bit steep and muddy but not too bad. After clearing this there are a couple more small pitches before you find a trail that splits to the left and to the right. The trail to the left leads to the viewpoint, which is fairly easy from this point. The right is much tougher and takes you down to the lagoon. I want to see the viewpoint, I hear it is spectacular, but I decide to do the lagoon first, in case it rains this afternoon like the forecast said was possible. If it rains the descent into the lagoon and subsequent ascent out will become very muddy and treacherous.
I take the trail to the right. First I tackle a not-so-steep hill down to a landing. Here I meet three girls, Shannon and Chelsea from Canada, and Alice from Ireland. We end up talking about the climb and tackle the first real steep pitch down together. It is steep - actually completely vertical to be honest. There are ropes to assist in various places. We take the rope and climb down half way. At that point there is a severe overhang and you kind of slam into the wall. It’s unavoidable. From that point you can get a foot hold again and continue the descent.
There are three more vertical pitches to contend with, but we make it down safely, spotting each other along the way.
At the bottom, the hard work becomes worth it. We are down in the lagoon, and even though we are not there at high tide, when it’s at its most beautiful, it is still amazing. To the right there is a small crevice in the rock and I try to squeeze through it. To my surprise, I’m successful. On the other side, there is a path that leads along the lagoon. At the end is a large cave that we explore briefly.
After a good rest and taking in the serenity of a scenery that most tourists never come to see, we make our ascent back up. At the fork I head for the viewpoint and the girls tell me they’ll meet down at the bottom near the road (They had done the viewpoint first). I hike up the trail to find an amazing overlook of the island. I snap some photos and take a moment to soak it all in before heading down to meet back up with them.
We walk over to Ao Pranang beach and jump in the water to cool off from all the climbing. We chill out on the beach for a bit but, once it looks like some foul weather is about to move in, we decide to leave. I say goodbye to my climbing companions and jump on a long-tail back to Ao Nang.
Despite my initial trepidation about setting out alone, the day turned out great. It always seems to work out. You may start out alone, but you never end up alone. There are so many other like-minded people out there. I’m so glad I didn’t chicken out.
The next day I head to Krabi Town. I do very little there. Early the next morning I will fly to Cambodia.