Wednesday 10 June 2015 – Railay Beach, Krabi
Breakfast was an egg and cheese roti and a pineapple shake (TB120) from a little Muslim lady, which I ate overlooking the beach. I took Tim’s advice and headed to Railay, which is reached via a short ride on a longtail boat around the headland. The boatmen have gotten very organised and formed a co-op, with a ticket booth and published prices for various destinations. West Railay is 100 baht per person and when they have 8 people, a boat departs. We were 7, me, a young Finnish couple and four Americans. One of these tired of waiting and paid the extra 100 baht so we could go, even though we hadn’t been waiting long.
Railay is just around the corner from Ao Nang on an isthmus that cannot be reached by road because it is behind several huge limestone karsts. There are three or four beaches on the isthmus joined by walking tracks lined with shops and huts lending the whole a very Swiss Family Robinson aesthetic. A combination of the usual café/bar/massage/travel/convenience store routine lines the way, and there are even tailor shops. A range of older beach hut accommodation is being joined by some very swish resorts.
West Railay is all golden sands and stunning headland. East Railay is tidal mangroves and less attractive, especially at low tide. Phranang Cave Beach is named for caves under its karst headlands. One of these is a shrine full of phallic lingams for fisherman. Another long stretch of golden sand with stunning headlands at both ends and a range of similar karsts and offshore islands.
It was peaceful in the morning and I enjoyed a swim and a stroll then found a shady spot to sit and people-watch. A fascinating mix they were too – the beautiful people, bright young things, fat old people, Asians of all sorts, Muslim families, the lot.
It’s interesting seeing observant Muslim women at the beach. Those who bathe do so fully clothed after adding a wide-brimmed sunhat to their niqabs, and often a life vest as well. The Muslim lads vary – some wear long pants & t-shirts to bathe, but many just wear board shorts. The Chinese/Asian boys wear tight boxer briefs that look sprayed on. Some of the Anglo women had bikini tops that looked like they had been tattooed.
An enterprising operator had set up a full kitchen aboard a longtail boat, which pulled up to the beach offering an amazing range of fare – all the usual Thai beach side offerings, a mix of local and international – so I ordered a somtam, chicken baguette and a coconut shake.
By 1.30pm the beach had become very crowded and the shade was shrinking as the sun came around. I wandered slowly back to catch the boat back to Ao Nang, after a beer at a hut by the beach. Two young women from Perth and Brisbane and a young child belonging to one of them were fellow passengers. I held the child while mother got onto the beach.
I cooled off, washed and rested, then a quick check of the sunset before finding another unprepossessing little café for a very good dinner – somtam (of course!), pad Thai and some excellent stir-fried squid.