In Krabi, of course, Thailand's idyllic isle with sunshine, blue skies and clear waters. It is refreshingly quaint and underdeveloped, and rich with natural wonders.
Scandinavians know their geography. A sleepy little Thai province like Krabi has been on their itinerary for years. SO while the less informed are fighting for some personal space in well-known island havens like Phuket and Koh Samui, the Europeans have been heading in droves to the privacy of the Thai coastal province of Krabi. here they can indulge in rock climbing, seasports and the glorious sun and sea. No crowds, no rush. And best of all, everything is at their own languid pace.
Some of the holidaymakers' schedules are more predictable:
after breakfast, they will troop unfailingly to the beach, and lie there - the whole day. And they do this for two to three weeks at a stretch. Hoteliers haven't decided if they love or hate them - sure, they book accomodation and they stay for an extended period, but they spend way too little at the shops and food and beverage outlets. They don't order room service, raid the minibar nor require laundry services. They just want the sun - and the hotter, the better. And hoteliers haven't found a way to 'package' the sun. Not yet, anyway. So for now, it's still free.
Currently, people in far flung Europe and America can still claim Krabi as their own tropical paradise - through their movies. Krabi's claim to international fame stretches back to the early days of martini-shaken-not-stirred spy James Bond, whose exploits were captured on what is today nicknamed 'James Bond Island'. Beautiful Phi Phi Island was showcased in the movie The Beach, with Leonardo Di Caprio. Hallmark's Swiss Family Robinson was shot in Khao Khanap, one of two towering hills long regarded as the twin symbols of Krabi. It's a beautiful limestone cafe with spectacular stalactites and stalagmites. Although rumour has it that the cave is still home to some remaining skeletons and skulls of early immigrations, you would be lucky to find one – after the film crew has cleaned it our.
The drive from the aiport to Ao Nang Beach, Krabi’s most developed streets, is nothing short of interesting. For much of the way, it is rubber plantations on both sides of the road or dense vegetation. Then comes a narrow path carved out of the wall od trees, with rough-hewn, handmade signs at the road entrance saying ‘Krabi Resort’ or ‘Krabi Holiday Bungalow’ or even ‘Resort with Private beach’.
‘This village is without narcotics’, declares another sign, as if assuaging the fears of tourists looking for some good, clean fun. Then turn another corner and the magnificent limestone mountains loom majestically out of the turquoise Andaman Sea. The sudden change in scenery invariably causes a mad scramble as everyone rushes for the camera. But it’s a sight well worth capturing, especially when the rock climbers working their way up the cliff face happen to be in eye catching attires. Splash of color against limestone.
Ao Nang Beach is the embarkation point for tours out to sea. Every morning, colorful boats bob at the water’s edge awaiting their passengers. Tour agencies here must do a brisk business as Krabi has fabulous waters for swimming, fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving, as well as exhilarating views.
There are enough activities for landlubbers as well as the lazy when they visit Krabi. The locals are really proud of Fossil Beach, a frank of beach made up entirely of the shells of dead snails from the Tertiary Period. There have cemented over 40 million years to a height of some 40 centimeters. The small museum at the compound does a good job of explaining the fossilization process. Shell cemeteries such as this are very rare. They are only found in two other countries in the world, the United States and Japan. Before departing the site, do pick up a few shell-encrusted items as souvenirs as these cannot be found anywhere else in Krabi.
Tiger Cave, or Tham Sua, is about three kilometers away fro Krabi town. You can spot the hilltop temple from far shimmering red as the sun’s rays bounced fiercely off it. Surrounded by greenery, the temple, which purportedly holds an imprint of Buddha’s foot, can be reached from Tiger Cave Meditation Centre.
Monks in robes of various colors went about their business quietly, free of worldly concerns. The meditation centre grounds were surprisingly cool, despite the midday sun. Tranquil Buddhist music lulled the sense into lethargy, and like in a fairy among the bushes, and the water at the waterfall made only the softest and most pleasant of gurgling sounds.
Monkeys start chattering as a few visitors feed them bananas and guava. Soon families of monkeys run nimbly across the power cables and wires in perfect balancing acts, jumping from one building to another as they rushed to be fed. Cacophony erupted.
Both tranquil and exciting, Krabi is an ideal getaway in the sunshine with its beached, islands, crystal seas, and a host of surprises.