Having finished all my classes in Hanoi, my closest friends, as well as my boyfriend, having all left, the weather being cold, and not wanting to spend TET Holiday (Vietnamese New Year) in Hanoi – or Vietnam at all for that matter – I decided that I would take the opportunity to visit Thailand… for the fourth time.
One of my friend’s friends teaches English in Krabi and despite not really knowing him, I decided to invite mysef over. Incredibly, he agreed! Flight booked!
After a long, long day involving me waiting 7 hours for a plane to Krabi in Bangkok, – one which, for the same price, I could have got 4 hours earlier but didn’t because I “wanted to be sure that nothing could happen which could cause me to miss the flight” – Ash greeted me at Krabi airport!
His friend, Dent – his Thai neighbour and colleague – had been persuaded by Ash to also come to the airport, as he had a (very nice) car, making it easier to pick me up. We drove to Ash’s house, which is lovely despite being basic. After showing me to his bed-and-fan-only room, and meeting his dog who despised me from the word Go, we hastily mooched to the Waterside food area of Krabi town, where I met two of Ash’s friends from home (again, who I felt like I’d known for a really long time), and his fellow teacher friend Tan Ja. Following some deliciously cheap dinner, and a couple of beers at Chilly Bar, we hit the sack.
The following day, after a long, long sleep, Ash woke me at 11am as I had insisted the night before that I wanted to visit the school the he works at. Muangkrabi School is a convenient five minute walk from his house, though in the sun and wearing a cardigan and leggings (for appropriate dress), this was a difficult, sweaty walk. From the moment I stepped through the school gates, I was greeted with stares, smiles, and giggles. They were in awe over my platinum blonde hair, and pasty white skin, insisting it was beautiful when they held their arm next to mine.
Despite the first class I was to join and NONE of the students turning up, AND the second class only joining to sign their names for the last 5 minutes, I did get to watch one class, with students aged approximately 16-18. They were reviewing time… and knew nothing of it. I was admittedly astonished to discover how low the level of English was with these students considering they were about to graduate, and apparently failing in Thailand isn’t an option.
My first impression of Krabi was that it was a lot quieter than I had expected. I expected tourists coming out of my ears, but that just wasn’t the case at all. Infact I soon learnt that Ao Nang – an area which involves only a 30minute tuktuk ride to – was the major tourist destination, and once Ash and I finished school at 3PM, we hurried home, packed a bag, and hopped on the bus to meet the boys in Ao Nang.
Now this IS a tourist destination. And sadly, walking down the main road, you feel like you could be in any European family holiday desination, Tenerife perhaps, or Kos. The streets are lined with your typical souvenir shops, and ‘Italian’ restaurants, and pharmacies, and travel agents, and money exchange places, and nice hotels. The beach, which I admit is lovely and as beautiful as you would imagine a Thai island to be, is over populated with tourists, touts, and people offering massages.
My intention is not to give a negative image of Ao Nang. On the contrary, I had a fantastic week in this place, staying at Tan Ja’s lovely house (which every single tuktuk got lost looking for), and I thoroughly enjoyed the company, the weather, the relaxation, the beach, the drinks, the food, and the COFFEE AND EGG & CHEESE CROISSANTS AT IDEARY (Which we only visited every single day without fail, because it had Wifi). You just have to accept that it is what it is – a tourist trap; an expensive one. If you accept that, you will have a wonderful time, and have the option to take a boat to various nearby islands, including Koh PhiPhi, and RaiLayBeach.
As Ash had to return to work on the Friday morning, after a nice week-long break, he and I returned to his house in Krabi on the Thursday evening. A stressful night followed, where I discovered my outrageously heavy backpack would no longer zip up and I would have to use a bag of Ash’s, which also over-bulged, as did my large backpack, my small backpack, my handbag AND my laptop bag! It’s a mystery as to how the quantity of my items expanded so much.
Then came the stressful morning, where Ash told me he couldn’t come with me to Krabi town as planned to get my bus heading for Koh Phangang. Holding 5 heavy containers, I panicked that I would never be able to carry it all myself after dismounting the tuktuk, and having to walk all the way to the travel agency, and couldn’t bring myself to leave anything. As we walked up his road, with me almost in tears due to stress, a motorbike taxi driver pulled up. I grabbed the opportunity, gave him the address of the travel agency shop. He looked a bit overwhelmed at my big backpack, but having lived in Hanoi for so long and seeing the ridiculous loads they carry on their bikes, I knew he would have to toughen up and would be able to handle it… he did! A bus and a ferry ride later, Brendan met me at Koh Phangan and cured all of my baggage carrying woes! Hip hip hooray!