After 3 weeks on the island paradise of Koh Lipe, Thailand, we went north to Railay Beach, near Krabi. Railay is a rock-climber’s heaven, thanks to insane limestone cliffs and karsts (my new word of the month) that rise up out of the sand. For a week we trekked in the jungle, explored caves, rock climbed (Anthony’s forte, not mine – I was scared senseless) and repelled from a cave (this I loved). Our new friend Fare, who lives in Railay and whom we met through our friends on Koh Lipe, showed us a hidden lagoon, accessible only by climbing up and then down steep walls of rock, mud and trees, with the help of ropes left by past hikers. It was like rock climbing without the security of a harness, but we had the security of Fare telling us exactly where to put each foot and hand. I am sure he wanted to put his foot in our ass as we asked for the 67th time if we were there yet. The lagoon was completely worth it – emerald waters, surrounded by 360 degrees of limestone. A clearing in the treetops allows the sun to shine through, and aside from that, there’s no sign of the world outside. It is beautiful. Fare also runs the Railay chapter of Trash Hero, and Anthony took part — I took a sick day. We had a sunset dinner in the grotto at Rayavadee Resort, which you just have to Google. It’s like Four Seasons on crack. We swam in the ocean, read books and dodged monkeys trying to steal our food at our place Railei Beach Club. In the midst of this we extended our visa so that we could stay in Thailand past the 30-day mark, and then finally, after four weeks on the beach, we bid the sand a temporary adieu and flew up to Bangkok. We were SO. EXCITED. to spend 3 nights in a big city hotel with all of the accoutrements — AC, hot showers, fluffy duvets, room service. I don’t expect anyone’s sympathy — a month at the beach is a DREAM yes yes yes and we still thankfully have another blessedly beachy month ahead of us and life is very hard. Nevertheless, BANGKOK WAS FANTASTIC. Anthony’s friend Eva hooked us up again with a great rate at The Westin and we were so thankful for it. We had spent a few days in Bangkok when we first arrived in Thailand so it wasn’t completely foreign to us, and as we had gotten the touristy things out of the way then – the temples, the river, the ping pong show, yes really, I had to go to see what it was all about – this time around we opted to do the minimum. We went to the Chatuchak weekend market, a monstrosity of a place with 7000 stalls. I bought clothes, gifts and the best pork belly of my entire life. I am still dreaming about it. I want to go back now just for that pork belly. We watched movies in bed, went to the dinner buffet (don’t judge me — there were crablegs and sushi and it was AMAZING) and lazed around the rooftop pool. One day while IN the pool, I became the IT help line for my parents who were having computer issues. I fixed their laptop FROM the pool. I can see a new career in my future. Alas, it was finally time to say goodbye to Bangkok and thus to Thailand, and to the little bits of the language we’d learned and the customs and people we’d gotten so used to. By the end of our time there, we were saying hello and thank you in Thai and wai-ing with the best of them. The wai looks like a little half bow with your hands in prayer position, and is used as a greeting and a thank you both. The higher up the person you’re addressing, either in age or status, the higher your hands go. If you’re showing respect to a monk or Buddha, your hands go high, to your forehead. To an older or superior person, in front of your nose. And to a child or someone of lower status, hands down in front of your chest. We saw the scariest image in the Bangkok airport of Ronald McDonald wai-ing – it was like that nightmare clown in Poltergeist that dragged what’shername under the bed near the end of the movie. But even worse is that his towering figure is wai-ing with his hands down in front of his chest, and I’m certain it wasn’t aimed at only the children, which means the creepy bastard is talking down to me openly as I order fries and a diet Coke.
So with that image of Ronald in our heads, we waved goodbye to all things Thai and made our way to Indonesia. We traveled 18 hours by taxi, 2 planes, a boat and a horsecart (yes really) to the small island of Gili Air, next to Bali. And this place is heaven. I can’t believe I’d never even heard of this before friends in Koh Lipe told us about it. There are two other Gili islands to visit, and all three are just a 10-minute boat ride apart. No cars, no motorcycles, no dogs on any of them. Bali lies to the west; Lombok to the east. We LUCKED THE HELL OUT with our place here – a villa with our own pool, way out of our round-the-world trip price range, but I asked the super-cool owner if she’d consider a discount in the case that she had vacancies and she said yes. Et voila! Here we are. Our place is paradise: super private, surrounded by a bamboo fence, and our first morning here I took full advantage and laid out topless by the pool (sorry Dad). I didn’t even think about applying suntan lotion because most of me is pretty brown at this point (sorry Mom) — and of course I burnt the SHIT out of my bubbies (really sorry Dad). The girls are completely crispy. Sun-fried tomatoes. Fried chicken nuggets. So in an effort to dodge the sun, which is impossible here, I put on a shirt and we left our little compound to explore the island and it is really cool. Lots to do but not in an overwhelming spring break I want to gouge my eyes out kind of way. We took a sunset paddle yesterday, saw a great reggae band last night and took a snorkeling boat around the three Gili islands today. MOM I APPLIED SPF 50 THREE TIMES IN 5 HOURS. And of course wore my top. Tonight we were so happy to sit here in our little place and just chill. So chill we are. Also the island, like Indonesia, is Muslim, so we hear the call to prayer several times a day. Loved this the first time I heard it in Morocco and love hearing it again now. We just heard one tonight at sunset, and around 5am I hear the first one every day — Anthony has managed to sleep through it. At night I fall asleep at night to the sound of the waves. We’re not even on the beach, but high tide is loud. And wonderful. There is also something surreal about hearing the call to prayer while snorkeling. Ah, and today while snorkeling we saw turtles!! They were so sweet and docile and calm, just swimming along in their smooth turtle-ness. So cool to see. We’ve extended our stay here, which seems to be our norm as of late, so who knows what else we’ll see before leaving. For now, the blog is caught up, my father is mortified and I can go to sleep knowing we’ve found a piece of paradise right here in the Indian Ocean. More to come when we get to our next stop, wherever and whenever that may be.
Where we stayed in Railay Beach, Thailand:
Railay Beach Club
Where we stayed in Bangkok:
Kama Bangkok (great place, just not in a convenient area)
The Westin Grand Sukhumvit, Bangkok
Where we are staying on Gili Air, Indonesia:
FROM KOH LIPE…
TO THE BEACHES, CAVES AND JUNGLES OF RAILAY:
TO THE CITY OF BANGKOK — TWICE:
This guy below is my spirit animal:
“Bangkok call center, how can I help you with your computer problem today?”
AND OFF TO INDONESIA WE GO. NEXT STOP: GILI AIR.
Who knew you can use your paddle like a sail in the wind? This could have saved me alot of hours and embarrassment from bad form in the Hamptons.
I get this look from Anthony ALOT.
Can you see the turtle??
Don’t get up, I’m fine. Maybe a ladder on the next boat? No? Got it.
New life goal: Have shower like this in my home. I’m going to start asking the neighbors upstairs from me in NY if I can drill through their ceiling.