So we needed to wash the sand from between our toes and get a bit more involved in Thai culture. The perfect place was Krabi town. Most people only pass through here on their way to beach resorts further south but for us it made a perfect base for exploring the area away from the crowds. We settled into our beautiful, cheap and clean guest house Smile, and set about investigating the local street food. This is what Krabi town is famous for and was of course for us a major draw! There are markets, street food and stands galore and we set about trying them all. Heavenly noodle soups, pork and rice, battered muscles, coconutnut ice cream plus muslim curries were our reward. Wow it was good…I’m sorry for you guys for not tasting it with us.
Our first inclining that a buddhist festival was going on was when we couldnt buy any beer in the 7 eleven supermarket (don’t judge we had a spectacular roof top terrace in our guest house we had to make use of). Our suspicions were confirmed when the towns temple was full and ablaze with light that evening, so we went to explore. It was Buddhas birthday and for the people of Krabi this was a chance to light candle, incense, offer flowers and most importantly take photos of each other and yourself doing so. We saw many more monks and buddhist nuns while we were here. They were not in the stereotypical poses we silly westerners might expect. Instead they were queing for an ATM, taking photos with a camera and one with a slingshot… it was to scare the persistant thieving monkeys who patrol the Tiger temple on the outskirts of town. It was brilliant to have a glimps into the countries true identity and customs, without the touristy exterior.
We decided to take a kyaking tour, along the river out of the town towards Puket and it was worth the extra money. We kayaked through mangroves and limestone rock caves before seeing the 3,000-5,000 year old rock paintings made by the ‘sea gypsy’ peoples of the local area. One of the hand prints painted eerily had six fingers…We also visited Railay beach, a thirty minute long boat ride from Krabi Town. Even with the rain that day it fulfilled all the images of a Thai beach, towering limestone cliffs, beautiful sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and of course a cave full of phallic carvings. Its actually for once not as seedy as it sounds, this cave is, legend has it, home to the sea Princess who guards the waters. Local fishermen bring the carvings as an offering for fertility and so a big yield of fish. But unsurprising lots of tourists like giggling at them too.
On our last day we decided to challenge ourselves to climb the 1260 steps of the Tiger temple. Setting off early to avoid the heat, almost vomitting over the edge of the walkway and sweating more than either of us thought humanly possible we made it in less than 50 minutes. Not bad considering the amount of street food delights we’d been consuming. On top of the cliff was a spectacular view of the sea and mountains and a large gold buddha, perched atop the rocks. It was totally worth it! And meant Ella could get an utterly justifiable foot massage, after eating a block of cheese (we got very excited as we found real cheddar cheese while in krabi, the first time in two months and so had to do the right thing and eat it all).
Nakon Si Thammarat did not make a good first impression. We got over charged for dinner, ended up accidently staying in a brothel and Ella got bedbugs. So it had a lot to do to scrap it back from the edge. On the plus side there were hardly any other westerners in the city, which is the fourth largest in Thailand and as a result our Thai got better. The city is famed as an ancient regional capital and has more temples than you could shake a stick at…seriously about five temples in a row along the same street…they really like temples. Another highlight was visiting a shadow puppet workshop and museum and buying a couple (for only 50p each?!?) to take home. Ella chose the a prince and a hermit character and was more excited than any grown adult should have been about puppets. The city just about got our opinion back level as a nice guy bought us an ice tea for no apparent reason apart from being a nice guy. Then to finish off the stay we had some killer seafood, just like the locals, shredded and fried catfish complete with bones. So maybe Nakon si has its good points but its not been our favourite stop so far and we were very ready to leave and return to the sand. Next time we’ll tell you all about Koh Sumui…