A Travellerspoint blog

Langkawi

The forms and existence of water

rain
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We were lucky enough to escape the floods in Krabi Town and catch our 5 hour mini bus ride to the border town of Satun. A quick songthaew ride to the ferry terminal brought us to the border control where they took our passports and cleared us for departure to Malaysia. Langkawi, a fairly big island not far off the coast of the mainland was our destination. We sat atop the ferry and were engulfed in sprays of saltwater with the swells getting bigger as we watched a new storm rolling in. As we reached the port the rain had begun. A 20 minute taxi ride to Pantai Cenang(the main beach) revealed that every flood plain we passed was full to the brim with water from the latest monsoons. We knew right there that we were in for it.
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It took us nearly an hour to find our guesthouse which was tucked away off the main roads and side roads. The owners, friendly enough didn't speak a lick of English. We were able to communicate that we would need a motor bike and a bike to eat. Before I knew it I was riding backseat on the bike of a man with one tooth! I couldn't help but wonder if maybe a bike incident was the reason for the lack of teeth. Without my passport or license I was able to negotiate a bike with the rental company. I sped back to the guesthouse to pick up my girl and we shot into town to grab a bite to eat. Mee curry was served with a plate of rice. After a long day of travel with more than a few speed bumps we were stoked to get to the room, have a shower and put our feet up. It sounded like a good plan. Megan turned on water and I heard a spitting noise coming out, and then it stopped. There was no water! Smelly, annoyed, and exhausted we decided to deal with it in the morning. Upon further investigation the following morning we found out that the entire island was without water. The recent floods had broke one major water pipe. We were forced to wash with buckets of water from the owners personal supply. We took turns pouring the water on each other, having a quick wash and pouring some more to rinse. This went on for 3 days. We kept our heads high and smiles on our faces and enjoyed the ride.
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Langkawi is an island of many landscapes. There are mountains reaching 1,000 meters shooting up from the sea. Untouched virgin jungles. White and black sand beaches. Waterfalls are in abundance, but don't plan on seeing everything unless you rent a motor bike or a car for $10 a day. We went to a couple different waterfalls and soaked in the crystal clear pools at the bottom, ignoring the swim at your own risk signs. Each waterfall we went to took at least an hour there and back on the bike. Our bums were sore at the end of each day. There were 2 days where it rained and never stopped. We used that time to catch up on current events from back home, playing uno, and working on our blog. One day driving home from the black sand beach it rained so hard that it literally felt like someone was shooting bb's at us, to say the least it did not feel good. We used one of our sunny days to ride to the northern part of the island and visit the oriental village at the base of the cable car. We found some decent food in the oriental village before riding the cable car to the top of the mountain. The cable car was a fun 15 minute ride and 2.2 kilometers over some of the falls and untouched jungles of the island. I don't know exactly how high it was but I wouldn't recommend looking down if your afraid of heights. When we arrived at the top the clouds rolled in and ruined our view, seems like this is a reoccurring theme on this SE Asia adventure. We enjoyed it nonetheless.
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Half way through our week on the island we switched guesthouses to a place up in the countryside. To get there we had to bike 7 kilometers on a bumpy drt road full of potholes, dead snakes, cows and water buffalo blocking the road. Once you finally get there it is quiet, cool, and peaceful. The owners were so nice and helpful that we decided to book an extra night up there. They told us to take a small path behind the guesthouse to go watch the locals gathering fruits falling off the trees. It was neat to watch the locals and it even gave Megan an opportunity to run this little path.
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Langkawi is a place with much to do, assuming your not stuck inside because of the torrential downpour. We were happy to see it and thought it was a great place to start our malaysia trip, but were just as happy to be moving on. We jumped on a ferry and headed to the next island, Penang.

Posted by SMWiley 20:18 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Thai food

Bring the heat


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They say pound for pound Thai people eat more chili peppers than any other nation in the world. I remember when I was here 3 years ago I ate a pepper whole. It took about 20 seconds before my whole face was covered in sweat and steam was nearly coming out of my ears! My body wasn't right for days. I will never make that mistake again.
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There is no shortage of food in Thailand. You can choose to eat off the street, search the markets, or dine in an inexpensive restaurant. Green curry and red curry are easily the most popular curries, utilizing chili peppers, garlic, lemon grass, and coconut milk, among other essential herbs and spices, depending upon the region or brand. Chefs may also have their own particular variations. Green curry is made with fresh, young green chilis, and is significantly hotter than other curries. Red curry is made with bigger red chilis, which are not as hot as their green counterpart, but still packing significant heat. Green curry tends to lean toward a sweeter flavor, while red explores the savory side. My favorite dishes are the curries served with steamed rice or sticky rice. Penang curry is a mildly hot and sweet red sauce and one of my favorites. You can take it with chicken, beef or pork. Another one of my favorites is massaman curry. A coconut based curry with big chunks of potato, onion, and roasted peanuts.
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It is very common in many of the town's to have morning and night markets to buy and sell fresh foods, spices, herbs, fruits and vegetables. We went to a morning market in Krabi Town and saw first hand how restaurant owners purchased their chickens and pork products for the day. Many of them would be back the next morning to repeat the process. This was very cool to see and experience, we left that morning with some delicious dragon fruit. Night markets sell much of the same but many of the foods are prepared to eat right there. We've tried pork belly and chicken satay on a stick, both were delightful. Fried rice and curries are common in the markets. I tried to buy 4 individual rambutan fruits from a sweet lady with a huge smile. She didn't understand what I was asking for and I ended up getting 40 baht worth(a little over $1). That was just over a kilo of Rambutan that Megan and I had to haul around for the next week.
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Fresh fish is hauled in daily from the sea and nearby rivers. Restaurants will display the fresh catch in a bay of ice. You can choose the fish you want and they will cook it for you right there. It was nice to see what fish they were catching so I could ask the locals what they were. This is how I found out what a few of the species I caught were.
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Posted by SMWiley 22:26 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Krabi Town

Temple without a view

rain
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Krabi town is located on the west coast of southern Thailand. We arrived by long tail boat from Railay Beach and as soon as we pulled up to the dock, the rain began. And the rain has not stopped. We made our way to our guesthouse, Lada Krabi Residence, and we were happy to find a new hotel with a lift, air conditioning, and a satellite tv! Luxury! We dried off and headed out to the streets to find some lunch and explore the town. Just outside our door, we found the vendors for the night market getting ready to sell their fruits, fish, vegetables, cooked food, etc. We stopped for a peek and then continued down the road in search of lunch. We came upon a small stand with a very happy man standing beside it. We saw chicken and pork and decided to give it a try. I ordered chicken with noodles and Stets had pork with noodles...the bowls came out as steaming soup filled with our choice of meat, Raman noodles, sprouts, and a green (maybe bok choy). It was delicious! We proceeded to walk around in the rain a bit more and then decided we had enough so back to our guesthouse we went for some relaxation!
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We strated our second day in Krabi at the morning market. Here, people come to grab the food they will need for the day. You can find anything from fruits and vegetables, to any kind of protein you can imagine. We then rented a motorbike from the hotel and set out on the road. We caught some dry time and so we thought we would try to find a temple known as Tiger Cave Temple. We were told there were signs everywhere and that we would have no problem finding our destination. The temple was 7km from our guesthouse. After an hour of driving around, seeing only one sign, and asking many people for directions, we found our destination. This temple is a Buddhist temple where there was once believed to live a tiger. Once the tiger moved away, the temple was built. In order to see the temple, one must climb 1,237 steps up a steep mountain. The views on the way up are gorgeous. Stets and I agreed to make the climb. At about step 400, the skies opened and the monsoon began. Stets and I looked at each other, through on our ponchos, and continued up the steps until we reached the top. Although we knew we would not see the views, we were happy to make it and to enjoy the feeling of being in such a holy place.
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We returned to our guesthouse, dried off and headed back to our favorite lunch spot. We then relaxed for a while and headed out to the night market to get some local street food. We wondered the stalls for a while, bought some fruit, and both chose meals for the night. I had some chicken and rice and Stets chose chicken fried rice. As we were leaving the tent, we spotted some sushi! I deciede to skip it but Stets tried two pieces and the lady at the stand had a blast with him!
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The following morning, we awoke and prepared ourselves for a long day of traveling to Langkawi Malaysia. We were picked up by a mini bus and headed to the bus terminal to catch a bus that would take us to the border. On our way, we found the roads to be flooded from the monsoon rains. Several times we had to back track on roads that we could not cross and find alternate ways. As we finally approached the bus terminal, we saw a man trying to catch a fish with his bare hands that had been washed up with the high waters!
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Posted by SMWiley 21:01 Archived in Thailand Comments (2)

Reef fish and dark caves

12 fish and a kayak


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With so much to do in and around Railay beach, we had to find ways to fill out our days without spending an arm and a leg doing the tourist tours. Railay is a big destination for experienced rock climbers. Many of the people we met and saw had climbing shoes and dry bags for their day to day excursions. Since neither of us are big into climbing we decided to do something we both love, kayaking! We decided that our second day there would be perfect as the weather called for sunshine all day!
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We set out to the west end of the island around 1 with our bellies full of Penang curry. We went to one of the two places to rent kayaks on the beach, paid 400 baht($12) for 3 hours and loaded our belongings in the dry sack that was provided. I set up my 8 wt. rod and my heavy sinking line in anticipation of fishing some deep water. With Megan paddling the rear and myself fishing the front we set off on what was sure to be a good afternoon. I trolled a purple and black fly that mimicked a reef fish as we paddled out of the bay. As we rounded the corner we saw these two stunningly huge limestone rocks jutting up from the Andaman sea. We took one look at each other and knew exactly where we wanted to go. It took us 10 minutes through the open water to get there, once we were there we found ourselves underneath giant stalactites and beautiful coral reef all around. I knew that this was a perfect place to fish. As I started double hauling and doing a two handed retrieve to keep the fly off of the coral I suddenly felt a tug on the end of the line, I stripped in my extra line and found a rock bass attached to the fly. It was no bigger than the palm of my hand! Excited and happy, but with the urge to catch bigger fish my guide paddled out to open water in search of something bigger. Megan guided us between rocks, around islands, and on the edge of the drop off looking for the big boy, but he never bit. Our time was up so we put the rod away and went back to shore, happy about catching something but not satisfied. I knew we would be back out there.
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We went to go meet up with our new friends Adam and Denise later that night. We sat in the relax bar and shared stories about our adventures from the day. They went deep water soloing(rock climbing over the water) and cliff jumping. They were with another couple that they had met during their trip. The man they were with had been on the island for a couple of weeks and knew it well. He told us about a hike through a cave, telling us that we could do it in flip flops but we would need our headlamps.

A couple of days later we rented the kayak for another 3 hours. There was rain on the horizon all around us but we decided to go for it anyway. We paddled 20 minutes to Phra Nang beach, drug the kayak up where it wouldn't get swept away, put our headlamps on and set off for the cave. We took a short walk through the jungle and past several rock climbers. At the entrance of the cave there was a fantastic view of the karst landscape around us. We used the beaten path to lead us to the first ladder up into the black abyss where we turned on our lights. We found our way to the next ladder and then the next. We had to climb 7 or 8 until we finally saw light at the other end. We had reached the end of the cave on the other side of the rock we just climbed through. The views from there were nothing short of spectacular. We saw the entire west Railay beach, and enjoyed our feat for about ten minutes and started our decent back to the beach. Climbing down was much more difficult than climbing up.
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I set up my rod and we pushed the kayak back out to sea with the black cloud gaining ground on us fast. Megan kept the kayak right on the edge of the drop off and I began to fish. It was tough keeping the kayak in position because the swells were getting big. On my third or fourth cast I caught a rock bass. 10 casts later I had caught 2 more. None bigger than the first. Floating closer to the limestone rocks we adored I caught a fish with a little more fight to it. It was a white snapper about the size of my hand. By that time the rains had rolled in. We sought shelter underneath the stalactites and I continued to fish in the rain. A few more rock bass and another white snapper found themselves on the end of my line. I was using a small shrimp pattern that was tied by my father. I caught a few more fish but was unable to determine the species. They were a beautiful tan with brown spots. The fins were spikey. I thought it would be funny to toss one back at my guide, but found out that she was unimpressed by the gesture, we almost capsized the kayak. The rain turned to a downpour and we paddled through the headwinds and back to the safety of the beach. I caught 11 fish in a matter of an hour or so, all because of the beautiful guilly I had behind me!
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Posted by SMWiley 00:58 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Railay Beach

Wild Monkeys in Utopia


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Railay Beach is located on a peninsula on mainland Thailand between Krabi Town and Ao Nang. Although it is located on the mainland, it is only accessible by boat as the a limestone cliffs make it impossible to reach by car, leaving you with the feeling of being on an island. Upon arriving by ferry from Koh Phi Phi, Stets and I knew we had found a piece of heaven. We made the long trek along the beach and up into the jungle to find our bungalow at a place called Railay Garden View Bungalows. For about $18/night, you have your own bungalow with a private bathroom, mosquito net, and a fan. We were also provided with toast and tea for breakfast every morning. The perfect place for two backpackers looking to explore for a couple days.
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On the ferry ride over, we met a couple, Denise and Adam, that are basically our neighbors back in Colorado. We decided to meet back at the boat dock around seven to grab a drink and bite to eat. There are two sides to Railay Bay - east and west. The west side caters to more of the true vacationers with beautiful resorts, pools, and higher priced restaurants. The east side (which is where we were staying) caters to the backpackers and those traveling on a budget. We decided on dinner on the east side and found a place serving some great Thai curries. After dinner, we headed to a bar just down the way where we sat upstairs on an open deck on triangle cushions on the floor. Reggae music flowed in the background and we basically talked the night away.
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On our third day here, Stets and I got up early to hike to a blue lagoon that we kept hearing about from people on the island. We strapped on our day pack and grabbed some water and headed out. The trail to the lagoon was rugged at best. We hiked straight up using the assistance of ropes tied to trees for about 25 minutes, walked through the jungle for about 2 minutes and then headed straight down, again using ropes. The jungle was beautiful and our excited and adrenaline continued to build. We came to a small clearing and saw whe the trail looked like it headed right down a cliff. As we made our way over, we realized that this in fact was the case. Not only was there one cliff that lead to a small landing, you then had another, significantly taller cliff to contend with in order to make it to the lagoon. After much assessment and conversation, we turned around and headed back. Although we didn't make it to the lagoon, the hike was beautiful and physically challenging, which is sometimes what it's all about.
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As is becoming our normal evening activity, Stets and I headed to the west beach to watch the sunset just about every night we were here. I have seen some beautiful sunsets in my time, but none can even come close to the sunsets we caught on Railay Bay. The pictures below speak louder then words.
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Traveling like we are can certainly be tough and for me, I use running as a way to clear my mind and work my body. One free evening, I decided to go out for a run along the path that follows the beach on the east side. I ran from our bungalow down the beach and into the jungle. As I entered the jungle, I couldn't help to feel like someone or something was watching me. I took a couple more steps and looked up and that is when I saw a group of monkeys about 2 feet from me sitting on top of a bamboo fence just watching me run by. I was shocked and now, standing right in the middle of them. Ah yi yi! I stood and watched them for a couple minutes and then turned around to run back to get Stets so he could share in the experience. When we returned, the group had doubled! We stood and watched for a while, but feeling uncomfortably close finally left to catch yet another sunset.
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I can't say enough good things about Railay Beach. The people are fantastic, the beaches are beautiful, and there is plenty to do. If you are ever in the area, I would highly recommend it!
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Posted by SMWiley 23:06 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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