Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ton Sai, Bonzai!

My first stop in Thailand was a great one!

After taking the night train from Kuala Lumpur, a 5 hour bus ride, a 30 minute long-tail boat ride, and a 30 minute hike/scramble I arrived in beautiful Ton Sai. Sunset would be arriving soon, there were climbers on the beachside rocks and bathers on the beach. Only took one stop to find a good budget bungalow that seemed luxurious relative to some of my recent accomodations.

My first peek at Ton Sai, climbers, beaches, perfect!

The next day I headed out on a deep water solo climbing trip. They basically boat you out to limestone pillars in the Andaman Sea that are good for climbing and have adequate water depth for when you either jump or fall off the rock. You get old and hole ridden climbing shoes and they dump some chalk in a hole near the start, but it comes off quick. It was a blast to be climbing in such a beautiful area and I met the folks I'd pal around the place with for the rest of my time in Ton Sai.

Our first climbing site, 2 ladders out of the water and lots of rock to play on

Me perched beneath the roof

Since I literally tore the skin off my hands deep water soloing, climbing was out of the question for the rest of my time so I took the opportunity to explore the area. Their hikes reflect the climbing vibe of the area though cause not a one of them didn't involve a hand line and steep scrambling. (The locals here climb like monkeys, it's impressive!) Great views, hot and humid weather, what more could you ask for. Afterwards it was time for the beach at Phra Nang, the best beach in the area and home to the phallic Princess Cave. Apparently a mystical sea princess died in the waters just offshore and fisherman go the cave and make offerings that they believe will make them successful in their fishing and safe at sea. The offerings are more representative of fertility though so I'm not sure what to think about this one.

Phallic offerings at Princess Cave on Phra Nang Beach

Met my pals from the DWS trip and we made a trek through a system of caves (in the dark with bamboo ladders and hand lines) to the other side of a huge limestone pillar which looked down on Railey West beach. It was a great little afternoon adventure! The way back we all got caught, clad in our swimsuits, in a downpour so we had to seek refuge at a convenience store and have a Chang to appease the rain gods. It must of worked since we walked the rest of the way back in dry skies.
The view from the cave hike down to Railey West

Night life on Ton Sai was great, not too crazy, but a good selection of things to do. Be it Ping Pong, Pool, taking in a fire show, slacklining, or the occasional live music night (which was amazing!). I was sad to leave, but excited to move to my next local on the East side of Thailand...Koh Tao, to try my hand at Open Water Scuba Diving.
My last images of Ton Sai before hopping a long-tail out