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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rock Climbing in Krabi

Welcome to Krabi!

Thursday March 19th, 2009: An hour and a half flight from Bangkok airport took Daniel, David, Kari, and myself to Krabi, a trip of lifetime reminiscence. And talking about Krabi, it's rock climbing! We spent three days of our long weekend on the rock climbing areas, Tonsai and Railay and had the heck out of it. Don't like air travel very much but surely was the smartest way to maximize our itinerary on climbing.

Getting excited about it!

Kari and David too!

Thursday morning at Tonsai Beach

Late buddy bug can't let go the passion

We arrived, booked, and lodged in doorway-toilet rooms (first time I saw that kind of design) at Dream Valley Resort in Tonsai, which is one of the many resorts just lining in a row with dirt road leading along the entrance pathways or wooden stairs, somewhere around nine in the evening soaked wet by the monsoon rain. And it rained some more supposedly putting me in a good slumber that night except for the arctic mode of the AC. The blanket was thin to start with, and too lazy to get up in the middle of the night to shovel the snow off my toes. Daniel was in heaven with thicker blanket and he's from, the arctic! Me, I'm the equator guy.. But the curling gave a good stretch for one cool route the next day. Like they say "there is a bright side of everything".

Our 1000 Baht per-night room

The next day Friday March 20th, 2009 marked a memorable first day of climbing on this trip, at the seemingly preeminent location for rock climbing in Asia and, possibly the world. Got up at six thirty to catch a buffet breakfast of bread, cereal, and things like that, and then.. what else, went climbing! We started our climb on Tonsai beach and did two routes, later on waded the sea water along the rocky shoreline to get to the prettier beach in Railay, crossed a resort to another beach on the other side where most of the climbs were made for the day.

Crossing Railay Beach for more climbs..

Climbers earlier than us at a climbing spot in Railay

Our first route was called the Ladyboy! Rather surprised by the name it tests various climbing techniques some I've never known on the artificial wall. The beta did well but I had to do it differently at several spots. Kind of interesting. We did a couple more routes with difficulty level of (6a to 6b?) before heading for lunch.

Climbing Ladyboy!

Starting the (fifth?) climb before lunch

I had rice baked in pineapple. Baked rice? I didn't think it was baked rice. It's actually steamed rice, flavored, reheated and stuffed in pinapple hull. Not bad.. Fancy? Give it a go! well unless you are not a fan of rice or pinapple.. A surprise to David that the coconut juice was served in its shell.. The equator guy, "no problemo" working on it!

Randy over there

David working on the coconut,
Holden probably contemplating his mission for the afternoon

I think Daniel loves Somtam...

Off we went again climbing a couple more routes after lunch. The last one was a 6b if I'm not mistaken and to me, the best. I would say it was more challenging than the ones we did in the morning. But who says rock climbing is not for me.. It was clean dude! and I'm a happy man alive..

David having a tea while I was climbing

After reaching the top of the day's last route

The next day was a blast of its own. Maybe it is not a complete trip to Krabi as a rock climber if you don't try Deep Water Soloing aka DWS. Well, you climb to a ledge, overhang, or from wherever you want, jump or in case let loose, fall into the water. Whoa! I shouldn't have climbed that high because my first jump was not so appreciated. Excited to climb but not so keen at falling. You should try it low first! especially if you're afraid of height or never done it before. Climb higher next time. It took me a million seconds to decide on that jump. To add to the misery, climbing down was perceived as not a good idea.. With a deep burden I took off that ledge and bang! into the water, slapping my hands hard they became red. Man..! The tip is, land straight, arms braced to your side, legs closed (especially guys!). Sniff air out hard from your nose the moment you hit the water unless you crave for salt too bad..

So Daniel jumped,

The last million second before my first jump,

Then off I went...

and... Ouch!

then David jumped...

and Kari after THE jump!

That evening the group dinned at an Indian restaurant owned by a European couple which is one of a kind. First time knowing most of the people who we went Deep Water Soloing with that day made it another unique experience in Krabi. We sat around a four-cornered table (nine of us) not on chairs but on the floor. The cooking time allowed us to listen to each other's stories, mostly about trips and hobbies. To test my hot food endurance, I ordered the spiciest curry offered called, Vindaloo.. Very tasty indeed but to my dismay caused in the morning me, practically groaning "awh.. vindaloo..." Precaution! if ever you will order the killer apetit, make sure you're prepared to do some paperwork. Or climbing won't be fun.

Gathering before going for dinner

Randy, Mariana, John

John, Kari, Justin, Holden's thumb-up for Vindaloo..

Holden, probably telling about his Math class, and Daniel

Myself and David

Sunday saw us climbing only one route in the morning. The prolonged hibernation due to the yester toil caused us to start late that morning. Daniel climbed two more routes after the noon check-out while waiting to go to Ao Nang for the airport. That marked the end of our climbing intinerary.

Sunday climb

What happened at the anchor

That's all for now!

That was a spirit-filling experience. Alot of insights gained on climbing for a beginner like myself. I wanna thank Daniel for planning this trip and making it happen. Daniel has been my coach, mentor, and good friend. Many thanks to David for bringing my new pair of climbing shoes all the way from North America through halfway the globe, his picture-taking skills (we called him the hollywood guy), otherwise we would have but few mediocre pictures, his promised spell of brown jokes (never happened anyway) that somehow gave character to his humors, and certainly, for climbing with us! Many thanks go to Kari for her patience with climbers like us (she climbed at DWS!), for loaning her Nikon camera so we can have good pictures (like the jumps and the lightnings my tiny camera couldn't afford to capture), and her conversational company. Thanks to Tonsai, thanks to Railay for being there.. Until next time..!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mae Hong Son and Pai.. No regrets.

Wanna get carsick? Go to Mae Hong Son, Thailand! Drive from Chiang Mai to reach this beautiful destination in three or four hours depending on your driving skill. The road ventures through mountains and hills, and it will make you feel like quit midway. You have no choice but to go on since turning back does not solve your problem plus, you don't want to miss an opportunity to be there. December to january is best time to go since it's cool and windy. Feel the fresh breeze and watch beautiful sceneries along the way in this green part of the country.

A noontime view of carsickening road and lush greenery

Green trees, blue sky view at a hilly stop

Morning country by the road

Mae Hong Son is one place where you can visit a unique long-neck village still exist. A culture well preserved is here you may have never seen in your own hometown. Look at the picture, have an idea of what i mean.

A pretty girl at the Long-Neck Village

Our next destination was Pai! which is about one hour drive from where we stay in Mae Hong Son, on the way back to Chiang Mai. We spent a night there, and it is a beautiful place with lots of tourists. Upon arival, we ate at (from what i heard) the best local restaurant in town. Our forever wait for a Som Tam (typical Thai delicacy you might want to try) kind of prove that they are right. We stopped at a coffee shop by the roadside and took some pictures. It is called "Coffee In Love". What a name! It seems to be a famous place, I saw few days ago the sign board of that shop in a local newspaper.

One of the many resorts in Pai

The surprizing signboard photo of mine

Little did i know that this is a pretty well visited place of Thailand. So there goes my journey to Mae Hong Son which I will reminisce vividly by its long-neck culture, and little Pai for its surprizing beauty, milestones, and signboards! Didn't regret it, an adventure, a 2009 kickoff!