Saturday, June 14, 2014

Krabi: Day 1

We were headed to Krabi at the end of the season. We were told that the sun would ensure we would be boiled eggs everytime we would step out during the day. However, we were jumping like kangaroos as soon as we landed. I doubt that in whole of Australia, where I am told this species is abounds, you would find creatures that dolted like the two of us did in Krabi.

For starters, we hired a Toyota Hilux pik-up truck right at the airport. The memories of homicidal dacoits of Bangkok who call themselves cab drivers was still fresh in our minds. So from now onwards, we were free! Totally on our own.. Besides the fact that the truck was the top model and the air-conditioned cabin was more than enough for the two of us and our luggage, it had a huge loading area in which we could load a couple of corpses or some devious smuggling consignments were we to reconsider our current professions.

Our celebratory mood never stopped once we lay our sights on the Toyota; right until we zoomed out of the airport and were confronted with a great problem. Which way?

Then the challenges started compounding: We had decided not to hire the GPS from the rental company. Our phones were dead. And we knew no Thai.

Well; we had a truck with a full tank and historically, the two of us have these numb nerves. Which means our responses may be sluggish in general talk, but the good part about this impairment is that even an earthquake cannot make us panic. So, we marched on and after certain guess-work, route queries (in an opera like tone accompanied with a lot of enactment of our pronunciations), we did get to our destination in double the estimated time.

The drive through the place is a visual treat. Empty winding roads marked with steep ‘karst’ rock formations stunning you on the way. The Krabi town is a small sleepy town during the day and we were to go around 25 Kms further to Sofitel at the Klong Muang beach.

To give an overview of this destination, allow me to summarize: Krabi town is the original town with many hotels, small population (25,000 if wiki is to be believed). The resorts are located  at the beaches around Krabi. Ao-Nang is the party place of the area with a rich variety pubs, eateries and shops. (Note: I shall refrain from mentioning massage parlors again and again. The informed reader knows that once you are in Thailand, you are always a stone’s throw away from massage parlor; no matter how obscure a location you may try to get to).

In two hours, we were splendidly proficient in enacting queries, asking for directions and had explored a significant part of the country. Our explorations were driven by our need to reach our destination, which in-spite of being within a few kilometers radius, had continued to elude us.
Finally, we did get there. And what a spectacle it is! The beach is a debacle with mining ruining most of it but the grandeur of the property more than makes up for it. While you get a colloquial European feel here, the sheer size blows you away.  

The usual star facilities galore, Sofitel’s swimming pool is gigantic. Once we did experience it, there was no way we were missing it any day during our stay. Some things to be kept in mind before you book with Sofitel: First, be warned that it is huge. If you get a room a kilometer from the lobby, you are done for. Second, ensure that the property is not a host to another big ticket event like a golf tournament or a wedding. If you land here during such an event, there is a fair chance you will be sidelined; as in our case when the resort turned out to be sold to the destination wedding party during the final leg of our stay.

Once we were well settled in the resort, we set off to Ao Nang by dusk. This surely is a lively place with endless restaurants and pubs. The beach offers a spectacular view of the setting sun in the backdrop of the karst formations. The objective of getting to Ao Nang tonight was to get a snorkeling deal for tomorrow. Wandering, we covered most of the place dusk to late night. We were also fortunate to have hit a good deal for a tour to Phi-Phi island the next day, two sessions of snorkeling included. Though the best part of the day was the small night market at Ao-Nang. While Sona has little interest in shopping, her love for meats (and sea food in particular) made the night market worthwhile. For it was riddled with stalls selling weird creatures. Cooked: of course, but in their absolute form. For instance, you could not buy sliced meat; but you could certainly buy a fully fried/baked crab, fish, seahorse, etc. When the fried stingray and squid were in her line of sight, the augmentation of red blood corpuscles in her bloodstream was affected. Millions of them were splashing about and calling gaily to other millions of corpuscles.  We did get adventurous and tried all we could. After the night market, we had a hearty dinner at a live music place and headed back to Sofitel in the rain. 

Kudos to Budget car rental at the airport for getting us such a good deal on the brilliant vehicle!

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