Railay Beach is on all the top beaches to visit lists so we started there. I can see why. From Ao Nang, we took a long tail boat 15 minutes to get to an arc of sand wedged in between towering karst mountains. Unfortunately the lack of a boat schedule – boats run between Railay and Ao Nang as soon as they have 8 people – means there are constantly boats running to and from this beach. Add to the abundance of boats the fact that it was one of the busiest weeks of the year, between Christmas and New Years, meaning there were so many bodies on the beach, and it wasn’t exactly peaceful. But it was beautiful.
The weather wasn’t totally on our side so we only got to lay on the beach for a little over an hour before rain pushed us inland. We timed a lunch stop perfectly between the West and East sides, enjoying some Pad See Ew while the rain pummeled the plastic roof above us. After it subsided enough we went for a walk to try to find the lagoon. It sounds like we were lucky we didn’t find it, I guess it’s a pretty hard vertical climb, but we did find a smaller beach, Phra Nang Beach, swarmed with climbers and home to a very interesting shrine full of phallic statues. We had enough time to ooh and aah at the pretty beach before we had to get to Tonsai to meet up with Kate and Garrett.
The walk between Railay West and Tonsai beach seemed short and simple enough, but that is probably only true when it hasn’t just rained. It was a mudslide. We barely stayed on our flip-flops trying to trudge up and over this little patch of rainforest. By the time we made it to the other side we were laughing in relief and determined to get a boat directly from Tonsai back to Ao Nang so we wouldn’t have to go through that again.
But first we met up with Kate and Garrett for a beer. Months of unfamiliarity and now I had my sister, my old roommate and her boyfriend all in town! I was thrilled to see them when they walked up; they had just gotten back from a crazy sounding free soloing climbing day, where they climbed up cliff faces and fell into water. The pictures were epic. I wanted to stay and catch up longer but the last boat was leaving Tonsai, or we had to pay for a whole 8 person boat ourselves, so we said goodbye for now until we all reunited on Ko Phi Phi for New Years.
Our next day we split between the pool at the hotel and Ao Nang. Ao Nang is a busy tourist town next to a not-so-appealing beach. We wandered through town to book some important things – boat to Ko Phi Phi, bus to Singapore (long story, to be filled in later) – and find a good spot for happy hour. We found one, right on the beach with a view of the setting sun. A few beers, a setting sun, and conversation with my sister, it was a pretty great way to spend an evening.
The next morning was an early one before our boat to Ko Phi Phi. I had to get in one final Belgian waffle for breakfast at the hotel before we left. I’d finally gotten to the point of missing some western food and the hotel was the perfect place to satisfy this – club sandwich for lunch one day, Belgian waffles and scrambled eggs in the breakfast buffet – in between the necessary Thai food meals of course.
Our time in Ao Nang was really more about catching up than anything else, and resting before the craziness of New Years Eve. Off to Ko Phi Phi.