Our trip to the Thai islands was not without its obstacles. We had an afternoon flight from Chiang Mai to Phuket and figured we would have a laid back morning, sleep in, and get one last massage from our favorite former inmates. But when Carly woke up, she had an email from AirAsia saying that their whole online system and kiosks were down and everyone needed to check in for all flights manually. Because of this, they were asking for everyone to arrive 4 HOURS prior to your flight to ensure enough time to get through lines and make it on the flight. According to that time table, we should already be on the road to the airport. So we quickly packed up, got a taxi, and made our way to the airport. When we got there, there were only about 5 other people in line. We got to the front and they almost wouldn’t let us check in because check in for the flights does not open until 2 hours before. We pulled out the email and made them take our bags so we wouldn’t have to lug them around with us for 3 hours.
We made it to Phuket and had no exact plan in place to get to Krabi because we had been told by several people that it is something you can easily figure out once you arrive. Well they probably hadn’t been thinking about the slow season. Upon arrival, we found out that there were no ferries running to Krabi and our only way there was by bus (3-4 hours) or taxi (2 hours). We opted for the bus because although that would put us getting in at 8pm, it was a fraction of the cost of the taxi. However, we needed to take a taxi to get to the bus station. We were charged 400 baht for a 7 minute cab ride to a shabby shelter on the side of a highway where the cab driver flagged down a white van, asked if it was headed to Krabi, told us it was 200 baht, and loaded us into a packed van with only Thai people on board. It was a long and rainy drive, and I spent most of it praying we were actually being taken to our planned destination.
When we arrived to Krabi, which was more of a dirty city than an island getaway, we once again found ourselves dropped on the side of the highway. Our driver had been yelling across the street to a tuk tuk driver and told us to dart across to him and he would take us where we needed to go. So we did…because what other option did we have? He took us to the general vicinity of Hogwarts Hostel and we thought we were home sweet home. And we were…for a time. Until we discovered the bathroom situation. Which was about 4 toilet stalls and 3 shower stalls open to the second floor and shared by all 5 floors. But it was only for 3 nights…or that is what we told ourselves to make it through.
Our first actual day in Krabi, the sun chose to shine for us (sporadically), and we set out on an island tour to take us to see all the big sights such as Maya Bay (where they filmed The Beach with our dear Leo DeCaprio), a spot with a bunch of monkeys, a nice little bay where we snorkeled for a bit, Koh Phi Phi Don, and Bamboo Island. The water was beautiful, and luckily, with the amount of swimming we were doing, the occasional rainstorm didn’t really bother us. Carly became quite the attraction among all the Asian tourists and even our tour guide, Mr. Cho, had developed quite the crush on her by the end of the day.
After a day in the sea, all a girl wants to do is shower. And that was the first thing we did when we got back to Krabi. But to keep in line with the Hogwarts theme, a lot of the bathroom is wood, and that doesn’t really work well with the humid, hot climate. The door was warped and wouldn’t close in the first stall I tried. In the second, I was fully committed to the shower when I looked over at the little cut out shelf and noticed in the corner a little colony of mushrooms. My first thought was that they were metal and were there to go along with the Harry Potter theme. But I had to touch them for confirmation. THEY WERE REAL AND ABOUT 2 INCHES TALL. So that says something about how often they clean the bathrooms (I never saw them clean them while I was there and the toilet paper was often out…consider this my bad yelp review and DO NOT stay at Hogwarts Hostel no matter how tempting the theme is). After that traumatic incident, wet wipes and dry shampoo became my best friends for the remainder of our stay.
The next day (and our last on Krabi) we headed 30 minutes to the nearest beach, Ao Nang. We walked along the beach, people watched, and treated ourselves to lunch at an Oceanside resort, which of course became the only time in Thailand that the food did not sit well with us. We found another massage place and had what would be our last massage in Thailand (I’m crying as I write this). Also, Carly considered this the most romantic day we had shared so far.
We set out the next morning for Koh Lanta and were very excited about a change in scenery. We had scheduled a pick up for 10am to take us to the ferry station. At 10:30, we asked the staff to call and confirm it. It did arrive, and drove us about 4 blocks away, something we could have easily walked. We were then told to wait an hour for the ferry. After an hour of waiting, we were told the ferry was not coming and we would have to go by minibus, or another white van. This time we had the whole van to ourselves, which was really nice. We arrived about 3 hours later to what felt like paradise considering our last couple of days. Our hostel was a little rustic, but clean and right on the beach. Traveling the Thai islands during the off season is an interesting experience. For one, we learned it is a lot more difficult and time consuming to get from place to place. The plus side, however, is that aside from the 7 other people staying at our hostel, we had the beach to ourselves. It was lined with nice resorts and restaurants/bars that had all been shut down for the season and wouldn’t reopen again until November. It was a nice change of pace from the chaos of Krabi. We roomed with 2 British girls, and it was interesting to hear their take on the Brexit as we got the results while there.
We took the two days in Koh Lanta to relax on the beach, swim in the ocean, drink beers in the sand at sunset, hang out with the packs of domestic dogs that roam the island, and refuel before the nonstop schedule ahead in Australia and New Zealand. I definitely could have used another day in Koh Lanta and a kayak excursion. Lesson learned: next time (especially during the off season when it is cheaper) shell out the extra money and stay at a resort on Phi Phi.