A GIFT FROM HEAVEN – KRABI
Words & Pictures By: Saifuddin Ismailji
In a realm of nature, Krabi’s rich tropical rain forest opens the window on Thailand’s indigenous forest ecology system and some of Earth’s most dramatic coastal scenery set apart with giant limestone needles that sink into a sea of molten emerald and aquamarine.
Krabi has the right ingredients to inspire the tales of the Lost World. About 800 kilometers southeast of Bangkok, Krabi district is one of the oldest provinces of Thailand, which spans over 200 islands in amazing shapes of limestone needles and humpback rocks emerging out of emerald waters of the Andaman Sea.
Carbon dating stone tools, colored pictures, beads, pottery and skeletal remains found in the province’s many cliffs and caves evidence that Krabi has been home to homo-sapiens since the period 24,000 – 35,000 years B.C.
In modern history (1200 A.D.), then called the ‘Ban Thai Samor’, Krabi was one of twelve towns and had the monkey symbolize their standard. Then, Krabi was a tributary to the Kingdom of Ligor, a city on the Kra Peninsula’s east coast, now called Nakhon Si Thammarat.
You may venture into eco-adventure trip on a 4-Wheel Drive to explore wild beauty and step onto lush forest trails that unveil wilderness in raw appeal and then hire a chartered speed boat or hop on the traditional long tail boat going Island hopping and feast your sense of wonderment at the sight of breathtaking vertical gardens, some in the form of needles, which soars 1000 feet, hammered into the Andaman Sea.
Lay back on soft, white sandy beaches and snorkel crystal clear warm water and rocky reefs offshore some of the islands in a string of more than 132 islands or dive into cerulean waters to unveil an incredibly rich marine life.
Delight into lip smacking sea food marinated in Thai herbs at one of the prized restaurants. And if your idea of a holiday is exclusively leisure, there are plenty of lifestyle hotels and spa resorts at Ao Nang, Tubkaek beach and Railay Bay.
Ao Nang may have lost its village appeal but the strip along the beach offers you easy on the pocket and yet charming accommodation with the ease of choosing from a variety of dining outlets, tour operators, souvenir shops, clothing and nightlife.
My home away from home: The L-Resort is by far the best in terms of location, bed-down, personalized service and food. This family-run resort under Thai-Swiss management abound lush tropical garden is located in the center of Ao Nang tourist district and the Ao Nang beach across the road. The resort has balcony in some of its rooms with a view of the Andaman Sea and the window opens straight into the sight of a spectacular red sunset.
Rayavadee Krabi – Railay Bay
Krabi offers a wide range of lodging – from 5-Star resorts to medium and hostel dormitories.
The ONE-D RAILAY TRAVEL & TOURS Krabi: A reliable one- stop tour operator with travel services, transport, transfers, boat-bus ticket – all under one roof. Contact khun Sao +66 (0)98-6706308.
We select Island Hopping Tour including visit to t unique Koh Hong Island, meaning Room – so called because of the amazing freak formation of nature that has the summit of tall limestone wall holed in the center thus the opening has transformed the Island into a huge lagoon with soaring cliff. At high tide, we row the canoe through a small passageway to enter into this Great Hall. Sea water flushes into this room to form into a large natural swimming pool about a meter deep. Laga (or Saga) island, Lao Riem Island, Pakbia Island and Lao Lading Island completes the ring of Koh Hong islands. A stretch of clean and quiet Pelay Beach on the main Koh Hong Island is a divine hideaway for sunbathers.
The Island features interesting coral formation in waist deep water making it an excellent spot to snorkel and explore underwater marine life in superb surrounding of tall, lush karsts. The islands are best visited during the non-monsoon months of October through April.
Next, we take up a full day adventure excursion package on a 4XDrive Jungle safari and drove about 70 kilometers from Ao Nang beach into the mainland interiors of tropical forest. Sweeping vistas of cultivated farmlands and rubber plantation blended with lush natural tropical growth.
Much of the wilderness here is endemic to the area. Our guide introduced lifestyle in the village and displayed extraction of latex from the rubber tree.
Located near Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve, we stop for a dip in the thermal Hot Spring with temperature ranging from 35 – 40 degrees centigrade. In an ideal setting of large trees forming a green canopy over the many hollowed out bathtubs created by the crashing running water over the rocks, we soak in the pools for about 20 minutes – with care not to slip on rounded glazed rocks under the feet. This natural hydro-therapy bath with rushing warm water massages the body, soothes away aching muscles and helps relieve stress and tension.
Nearby, there is another spot of healing water about 1.2 meters deep. Locally called Sra Morakot, meaning Crystal Pool, the source of this emerald-green water natural pool is a clear water spring which oozes from the soil. High in calcium carbonate content, the water is unfit for drinking but possess meditative ingredients for the skin. Interestingly, the color of the water in the pool is dependant on the time of the day and water temperature, thus it changes color in different season during the year. When the water temperature is high, the water is greenish blue and as the temperature lowers, the color changes into pale green.
Khao Phanom Bencha National Park in the north of the district protects the forests around Phanom Bencha, the highest elevation (1350 meters) of Krabi Province. The hills are also the source of the Krabi River. This virgin forest area covers 50 Square kilometers is rich in caves (Khao Phung), waterfalls, streams and rock pools. Huay To Waterfall source out the Phanom Bencha Mountains and forms 11 rock pools within the Park’s area.
The next day, we take a long-tail boat to Railay peninsula next to Ao Nang beach. In low ride you can walk on the beach from Ao Nang to Railay, a prime attraction for bums and climbers. Railay cove is formed between the two huge limestone karsts hanging over sublime beaches.
A paradise for rock climbers, Railay bay has cave systems on both sides of the bay, the east and west. Other than the stalactite and stalagmite, amazing rock formation can be seen in the caves. One, carved by nature in the form of a male genital, water dripping from a stalactite on the ceiling of the cave to form a cavity on the top point of this rock.
RECOMMENDED EATS ALONG AO NANG & RAILAY BAY:
WANNA’S PLACE – Ao Nang
The oldest restaurant at Krabi offers Thai cuisines and is the best place where you can savor authentic Swiss and European dishes.
Not to be missed, Thailandia Restaurant, opposite McDonald and Vogue Resort. Designed in funky-Thai creates an entertaining atmosphere with live music, the eatery dishes out fusion Thai and western cuisine and also has on the menu traditional
Thai cuisine and international favorites. Among the signature dish is the Thai Pizza: Tom yam khung. Or try pasta in green curry.
GROTTO MEDITERRANEAN AT RAYAVADEE RESORT – RAILAY BAY
Popular for its dining venues, not to miss The Grotto Mediterranean restaurant. The tables are laid out in a concave cave with the magnificent view of the vertical gardens towering above the sea. The menu comprises of scrumptious med dishes, tried and tasted Med Cobb salad, lemon-garlic marinated prawns, Red snapper filet, and in desserts: orange cake-Blood orange crémeux, fresh orange, pistachio and white chocolate ganache in dark chocolate cannoli, orange blossom Chantilly, basil; And the addictive Dark chocolate mousse, caramelized banana, chocolate sauce and cocoa nibs. www.rayavadee.com/en/
KOHINOOR INDIAN RESTAURANT – the only Indian kitchen on Walking Street West-Railay dishes out spicy curries, BBQ (must try combo platter chicken tikka, Reshmi kebab, lamb, tandoori chicken), assorted breads (naan) including, butter, cheese naan and condiments. Contact: 081-6548100
THE HEART RESTAURANT:
Facing the west beach, family-owned small welcoming restaurant prepares Thai food. The signature Tom yam khung in served North Thailand style in a hot pot with rice. FB link: FB link: Pilaiwan Samanlee
RAILAY STORY RESTAURANT:
Next to Jamaica bar along Walking Street, daughter and father bake Thai fusion pizza. Must try: Tried and tasted the unique combo: Tomyam Khung/ phad Thai a 2-in-1 pizza. FB: Jeab MiniStory
On my arrival to Railay Bay, as I walk past, the owner of the place invited me to join him over his Birthday bash. I attended in the evening to celebrate khun Ten;s birthday with his family and friends. The lively Bar rumbles late in the evening until early hours of the morning. Popular among tourists for a variety of cocktails and also serve soft drinks and juices. FB link: Ten Climber
TREE HOUSE/ MAMA’S KITCHEN:
The chef prepares Thai dishes and is popular for her Thai Pancake. Above the Mama’s kitchen, the Tree House is a unique place to chill out on live music starting from 10PM till 2AM. FB link: Honey-Ausma Jongruk.
RAILAY BAN CHILI RESTAURANT & ARMENA RESTAURANT:
Family-owned restaurants recently opened Railay Ban Chili serving snack food like the Chef’s favorite – Wrap chicken, bung bung kebab with beverages while the menu at the main Armena Kitchen is comprised of Thai cuisines, coconut pancake and selected continental food. Contact: +66-62-692 5720.
WHY NOT BAR @ View Point Resort:
A fun place with live music – the best performance at Railay Bay, serves hard and soft drinks including coffee and light cocktails. FB Link: Cha Railay
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