Saturday, January 18, 2014

taking a vacation (part 4)

Our next beach journey took us to Krabi which is actually part of the mainland. We had a poolside room this time at our hotel that was a 10 minute walk from the beach. The beach itself wasn’t nearly as beautiful as Kho Phi Phi but the surrounding area was gorgeous all covered in trees and composed of limestone which made for amazing cliffs and rock faces and formations everywhere. We spent one afternoon at the Tiger Cave Temple, a large temple compound at the foot of a mountain. Several of the buildings were at the bottom along with caves, giant trees and monks’ quarters, but the main attraction was the shrine at the top of 1237 stairs. They were brutal but the view from the top was amazing and the quiet and peace there were different than at any of the other temples we’d visited. We also made quite a few friends during our various stages of the climb (or let’s be honest, during our various, and in my case very numerous, stops throughout the climb.) Nothing like a little physical exertion bordering on torture to bring out the commiseration of a group!

The next day we took a boat tour out to James Bond Island with a stop at a Muslim village for lunch. (Nope, I haven’t seen the movie so I couldn’t truly enjoy its significance –it’s on my list—but it was beautiful.) While 95% of the country of Thailand is Buddhist there is a hefty portion of the last 5%, particularly in the south, that is Muslim. We passed several mosques and were able to hear the muezzin call the listeners to prayer at various times throughout the day, which I loved. That was one of my favorite things from our trip to Egypt and it brought back all those memories to hear it again. I get the same thrill out of hearing the sound of bells in so many Christian churches. I think we, as Mormons, are missing something there!

Our last day was New Year’s Eve. Originally we had been dividing up to go our separate ways that afternoon, Kat and Dave back to Bangkok to catch their flight to the US and me back to Udon, but because of the flight cancellation and all the rescheduling we ended up with a few more days together. So we spent the morning at Railay Beach where Dave took a much needed break from us while Kat and I did some rock climbing which the area is famous for. Kat had done some climbing but I’d never done it and was a little worried that my fear of heights might manifest itself. (I’m not super afraid, especially if there’s some sort of barrier like a railing or something between me and the edge, but when there’s nothing there I get a little panicky.) We hired a personal guide for a few hours and he took us to an area of the beach crowded with climbers of all expertise. He gave us some quick tutorials and Kat took a turn and then it was all me. Aside from realizing how not strong I am I had a fabulous time! It definitely takes some getting used to, my brain did not see things the way Kat and the guide saw them even after they would yell out to me where to put my hands and feet. But it was an awesome feeling to be able to look down (I was even able to do that without freaking out) and see how far I’d come. I think I might have to look into some climbing classes when I get back to Utah. Any recommendations?

Well, after a brief kayaking trip and one last dip in the ocean we had to make our way to the airport for our flight back to Bangkok. We missed all the New Year’s celebrations on both ends. By the time we got to our hotel it was nearly 11 and we had to try three different rooms before we got one where everything worked. So I was in the shower listening to the fireworks usher in the new year. There were still a few going when I got out and I saw the tail end of them from the balcony but all in all it was a bit anti-climactic as far as the holiday is concerned. I guess that means I’m truly getting old, huh?

this tree is ginormous!

that's me!

James Bond island

our lunch stop

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