We woke early on the morning of the 24th to catch our 6:50am flight out of Christchurch and start the next adventure of our trip……..it was a long day. We went from Christchurch to Auckland to Brisbane, and finally arriving in Bangkok at 8:30pm.
Getting ready to catch our flight from Brisbane to Bangkok
Just after landing
Luckily with all our traveling around we had enough points saved up in the mileage plus points account to book a decent hotel here in the Bangkok. We both have to admit…….even though it has been awesome driving around Australia and New Zealand for the past 4 months, and we have seen so much……but man after 27,000 Km….to not have to drive anywhere and have a regular room and proper bed has been pretty nice!
For our first day in Bangkok we decided to spend the day checking out the major tourist attractions. After negotiating the train system, and making our way to the ferry boat system we boarded a boat for an up river journey towards our first stop……the Grand Palace. As our tour boat operator said….if you don’t see these places then you really haven’t seen Bangkok. The Grand Palace is were the King of Thailand lives….sad news is, he is not doing so well right now, and has been in the hospital for the past 2 years.
The palace is beautiful……..very crowded…but beautiful. One side note, this is considered a very formal place for Thai people, so to visit the palace you have to dress appropriately and respectfully. No shorts, no mini-skirts, no tank tops, not flip-flops, but if you come to the place and aren’t dressed to their standards they have clothes you can rent to get in. We passed the standard except for Cathy’s tank top, so they made her wear the blue shirt you see in the pictures……I know…….she can be such trouble some times! Here are some pictures from the Grand Palace.
Cathy showing off her new blue shirt on the grounds of the palace
Part of the temples around the palace
One of the many giant statues around the palace
In front of the King’s residence
Thai military guarding the palace
As you walk around you really start to notice the detail in the work on the buildings. For example, if you take a look at this picture of the flower patterns……
Flower patterns on the side of one of the many buildings inside the palace grounds
You might not think much, but when you start to look closer….you realize how intricate the detail actually is, how someone laid all the individual tiles to make the patterns.
The intricate flower work
Our next stop, we walked down the street to Wat Phra Chetuphon….which translates to giant reclining Buddah. It was pretty impressive at 50 meters long and here are some pics from inside the temple.
Now that is one giant Buddah
We then moved on from there and made our way across the river to Wat Arun. This is a very cool temple and you can climb the steps to get great views of the city. The steps are pretty steep getting up there……..but not for a couple of rock climbers!
Crossing the river over to Wat Arun
The main temple of Wat Arun
Cathy climbing the stairs of Wat ArunLooking out over part of the city from Wat Arun
Today we checked out more of the city. We both agree Bangkok is huge….and busy! Even though it was a Saturday there were still tons of people out and about with tons of traffic. I think this pic sums up the central feel of the city on a Saturday…..
Part of downtown Bangkok….it is busy!
Tomorrow we head back to the airport to meet our buddy Chuck who is coming in from Colorado. After meeting up with Chuck we will all catch a flight down to Krabi, where we plan on doing some climbing and chilling on the beach…..we are all looking forward to it……good times in Thailand!
Just a quick update for everyone. We are currently in Tonsai Bay, climbing, relaxing, and enjoying the laid back lifestyle here. There are limited internet capabilities here, so it might be a week before we can post up some pics from our time here…….stay tuned! We head off to Koh Phi Phi on Friday, then to Phuket on Monday were we will head out to the Similan Islands for some diving.
We can’t believe we are down to our last 30 days….time does fly when you are having fun! We are looking forward to catching up with everyone, but for now all is good from this side of the world.
Our last morning in Bangkok we woke to find a comment on the blog from our friend Sam. Turns out Sam was in Bangkok for work, and we were able to connect up that morning for some breakfast before we headed off to the airport. It was great catching up!
Catching up with Sam the man!
After breakfast we finished packing our bags and made our way to the airport to meet our good friend Chuck. For those who don’t know Chuck, he is a very good and close friend of ours. Chuck and I have been climbing together for many years, so we were looking forward to catching up and having another great climbing adventure together.
To get to Tonsai from Bangkok you first have to fly down to the small town of Krabi. From there you hop in a taxi for a 30 minute wild ride……dodging scooters and people to Ao Nang Beach. Once there is enough people, usually 6 or more you board a long tail boat for a 20 minute ride around the pininsula to finally arrive at Tonsai Beach. Unfortunately, we learned a hard lesson that day……don’t arrive at low tide! You have to hoof your bags for about 200 yards out to the boat, then another 200 yards over muddy coral to get to the proper beach…..needless to say, we were all sweating pretty good by the time we checked into the Tonsai Bay Resort.
Hoofing our bags out to the longtail boat to Tonsai
All aboard….a little wet…..and Chuck’s passport survived the hoof out to the boat
On the ride over to Tonsai
There are great rewards for all the effort in getting here, not only is there a ton of great climbing all within 20 minute walk from where we are sleeping, but some of the views are just awesome. We have been spending our days climbing, relaxing, Cathy went kayaking, and just experiencing the unique lifestyle of this part of the world. Here are a bunch of pictures from our time at Tonsai.
View from our resort
Our first climb on the beach, that is me in the black shirt at the top of the small cliff
Chuck getting ready to launch off on his first climb of the day
While we were climbing Cathy went out for a Kayak
Cathy’s view while kayaking
After a couple of days in Tonsai we decided to check out some of the other beaches and climbing areas. We hiked over through Railey West beach to get over to Railey East Beach.
View of Railey West, the next beach over from Tonsai
Cathy climbing over in Railey East….her first climb in Thailand
Chuck leading the mega classic climb “The Best Route in Minnesota”
Not a bad view from the beach at Railey East
To save some time, instead of hiking back we decided to catch a longtail boat back.
Just leaving Railey Beach
On the way back to Tonsai
When we caught the longtail boat from Railey, it was low tide at Tonsai, so we had to hike back into our resort
Here are some more views from the area.
Looking out into the Tonsai Bay
More of the walls you can climb in Tonsai
On our last day in Tonsai, Chuck and I decided to head out try one of the multi-pitch climbs in Tonsai. Here are some pics from our afternoon on the wall.
Our wall. The climb is called Big Wave
Heading up one of the upper pitches
Chuck looking down from the top
The view from the top of the climb…..not bad!
On Friday we catch another boat and head to Kho Phi Phi. We are all very curious about this portion of our trip as we have heard good and bad things about this little island that inspired the movie The Beach. We will let you know how it goes!
Where to start and how to even begin to attempt to explain our experience in Koh Phi Phi Don is going to be a challenge. I’ll start off with the most simple explanation I can come up with. Koh Phi Phi Don is a lost paradise and was an eye opening experience for us.
The first step in enjoying Phi Phi (Pee-Pee) is getting there. We kept an eye on the tides all week at Tonsai hoping it would be in our favor the morning of our departure but it was not. So we had another slog out to the ferry boat which would take us to Phi Phi. It wasn’t as nearly as bad as Tonsai but a high tide would have been nice. We took a long tail boat out to the large ferry boat which met us about 500 yards from shore. We boat jumped, got our luggage on board and cruised for about 90 minutes before arriving at Phi Phi for the next 3 days.
Chuck with his luggage as we headed toward the boat
Hangin’ on the beach
Thailand is known as the “Land of Smiles” and the people are so charming, super casual, and very inviting to all those lucky enough to visit this land. And herein lies the problem, with millions of visitors flocking to the beaches of the Phra Nang Peninsula each year and those numbers continuously increasing, there was no way the region would be able to keep up with the demand for development. The region did develop quickly but without a proper plan in place to handle it all. This was most evident on Koh Phi Phi island where a once pristine island of white sandy beaches, coves and lagoons which was home to a few locals and heaps of coconut trees is now a revolving door of foreign visitors, endless isles of food stalls and clothing shops selling bikinis, sarongs, and beaded jewelery and each stall selling a replica of the items in the stall before it, all of this packed into a very small island. There does not seem to be a proper sewage system or garbage disposal system in place other than hauling waste out to sea, burning garbage in the country side and letting it pile up in back woods areas for weeks. This leaves the aroma and image of the area as something the tourists just have to accept and get used to, which we did but we were also glad it was only a few days.
One of the many walkways through the maze of shopping stalls
The busy beach of Koh Phi Phi Don with Tonsai climbing wall in the background
We only spent 3 nights in Phi Phi and this was plenty enough time to take it in as a hustling and bustling party island. Lucky for us the staggering limestone cliffs, aqua blue Andaman Sea and surrounding rain forests have been untouched and remain as beautiful as ever so the landscape was still amazing.
To get away from it all for a little while we rented a long tail boat for a ½ day trip to Koh Phi Phi Lay, a separate and smaller island south of Phi Phi Don. Famous with tourists for one small and stunning beach called Maya Bay as this is where the Leonardo di Caprio film “The Beach” was filmed in 1999. Since then the demand for people to visit this bay has exploded. We were warned to get there early and not stay too long. We set out at 7:30am for the 30 minute boat ride there. When we arrived there were only a handful of people there which was nice but by the time we left, only 2 hours later, the place was a mob scene of tourists, long tail boats, and jet boats full of tour group. Here are some shots from Maya Bay and Pileh Cove.
Koh Phi Phi Lay from a distance, on our way!
Long tail boat ride out to Koh Phi Phi Lay Island
Approaching the islands staggering limestone cliffs
Beautiful Maya Bay prior to the onslaught of tourists later that morning
Jamie continues to improve his levitation skills!
Jamie chillin’ on the beach at Maya Bay
The backside of Maya Bay offers cool views of this little cove
Leaving a very crowded Maya Bay after only being there 2 hours
You can circumnavigate Koh Phi Phi Lay and stop off at all of the tourist sites, about 4, we chose 2 with the other one being Ao Pileh Cove. This is famous for once being one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and while it is still beautiful you can see the evidence of too many years of tourists and long tail boats coming in and out everyday. We stayed in the boat and went for a snorkel.
Cruising around the island toward Pileh Cove
Arriving in Pileh Cove
Getting a quick snorkel in, Pileh Cove
The beautiful cliffs surrounding the cove
During our last day in Phi Phi we went rock climbing on Tonsai Wall which was only a few minutes walk from the beach and overlooked the whole island, once you made your ascent! This is what we captured….
Climbing on Tonsai Wall, Koh Phi Phi
Jamie enjoying the view
Chuck giving it a go
Chuck and Jamie at Tonsai Wall
View of Koh Phi Phi from the top of Tonsai Wall
The climbing and a nice dinner out was a nice way to cap off the visit to Phi Phi but we were all looking forward to moving on as our next adventure would be a 4 day scuba diving trip on a live aboard boat cruising the Similan Islands : )