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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Not too Krabi At All | Hopping Around | Thailand

Updated: Feb 19

From Koh Lak to Krabi. Island hopping, snorkelling and kayaking...

From Phuket, we headed north to a little coastal town called Khao Lat. It was about an hour north of Phuket’s historic old town.  Sammy had found it online and was keen to do some bamboo rafting, so we headed north and that’s exactly what we did.

Enjoying the sunset of Koh Lak
Sunet at Koh Lak

Khao Lat was pretty levelled during the tsunami which I think resulted in it still being a real shadow of its former self.  I don't know what I was envisioning, but I didn’t find it very pretty... or alluring.  Yes, it was fairly chill. Definitely laid back compared to the buzz of the beaches in Phuket, but there just seemed to be something missing.

It was almost boring.

We'd gone from buzz to... fizzle.

It was peculiar swinging from pandemonium to pacification.

On the first evening, I went for a walk along the beach and I was shocked at how many elderly couples there were. It was like we'd just landed in the retirement haven of southern Thailand. 

Well... I guess I know now that Thailand really does cater to everyone; the sex industry, the hippies, the partiers, the adventurous, the nature enthusiasts, the families and the retired.

We did do the bamboo rafting, but I think it would be more aptly described as bamboo floating, as that’s exactly what it was. What are the classes of rafting? Class I - VI. On this scale, this stream section would probably rate as a Class -X. We both sat on a makeshift bamboo raft, with a guide standing at the front navigating both the flow and the float. The other rafters apparently saw a few snakes, but our guide didn't point any out to us at all. One, actually… and he had the audacity to stop directly underneath it, so I felt more horror of a potential fall from the branch rather than the fascination of seeing the serpent in the wild.

Floating down the river in Koh Lak on a bamboo raft
Bamboo Rafting

We must have floated for just over an hour, and to be honest, ten minutes probably would have sufficed. Once I'd taken my photos and admired my surroundings, I was good to go. I started to fidget and my ass began to hurt from the uncomfortableness of the bamboo seat, as obviously no pillows were provided for comfort.

From Koh Lake, we caught a public van down to Krabi.

Now this was a trip...

I seriously have doubts that this driver has a valid driver’s license. Watching him tackle the road and the traffic, there was no actual way he would have even passed a learner’s comprehension quiz on driving.  As Sammy and I were the final passengers to join the excursion, we sat in the front and I was the lucky recipient of the raised console seat.  So for over two hours, my tailbone was wedged up against the console bump. Bad enough as that is... now add in appallingly dangerous driving, many bumps, potholes, excessive use of the brakes... and the entire journey was nothing short of dreadful.

The driver had his photo license document plastered to the driver’s side panel, and I just kept staring at it, trying to decipher if it was him.  Sure, there were facial similarities, but I couldn't be certain that the driver was indeed that man in the photo. Quite honestly, without exaggeration, he was the world's worst driver. I would be astonished if he had attained a valid license without money or bribery.

Thailand's buses are the best! Bus ride to Koh Lak
Bus ride to Koh Lak

For some odd reason, he kept turning on his hazards. It was continual... for the entire ride. It was as if he was using them as he would his blinkers, but the odd thing was that he used his indicators as well. It just didn't make sense.

He drove in the middle of the road, sometimes on the left…. and sometimes on the right  He passed vehicles on blind corners, on hills, on the sidewalks, on the meridians, on the right and on the left, and on occasion, if there was enough room between two vehicles, he would just squeeze right in to try and overtake them.

He blatantly disregarded speed limits and roadway signs. He took corners like he was a barrel racer and there were a few times, I grabbed onto the front dash out of sheer terror. I was 100% certain we were going to flip. 

"Seriously, are you trying to f$#king kill us?"

I wanted to say that... but I didn't. I bit my tongue for over two hours, as I prepared to meet my maker... or the hospital staff. He obviously could sense my fear through my numerous twitches and winches, but all he did was laugh.

There was one man from the UK in our van and he would not stop talking, so he was a good distraction. He chatted and chatted and chatted... I was as polite as I could be for as long as I could, but finally, I had to tell him that I couldn't turn around anymore because my neck was starting to strain. I had to keep my eye on the road, as the driver certainly wasn't. That didn't deter him. He spoke about his career, and his youth, his travels, his kids, his kids’ travels and on and on and on. We heard stories of reunions, post office prices, scuba diving, military garisons... and we even got photos to accompany the jabber. Anytime we thought he’d finally finished speaking, he’d come up with another question for us, and our answer would send him into another lengthy spiel.

The famous Mad Crab in Krabi, Thailand
Crab? Krabi? Get it?

Our luck, he ended up being in our hotel as well, so we ran into him… a LOT. He always had some tale to tell and we'd have to try to be polite and then push on...

Krabi was cool. I liked it.

There was a lively feel to it.

On the first day, I did a big walk through the downtown core, along Boba Beach and to the Krabi marina.  The marina was a little too intense and I was bombarded with “You boat?” “Boat?” “Go boat?” “Yes, boat for you?”

No… no boat for me today.

Thank you very much.

I made my hasty exit from the marina and continued up to see the Wat Kaew Korawararam. It seemed a bit strange to be standing in front of a temple again, as I hadn’t had that experience for a while. There was no one there. No one. I was the only tourist. I almost forgot I was still in Thailand. In the north of Thailand, there is so much culture everywhere, it's almost intoxicating... but the south is different. I feel that in southern Thailand, culture and history have been covered with a fraudulent cloak. That tacky cloak is made up of beaches, parties and millions of tourists...

The culture is still there... but you have to seek it out. It doesn't come to you.

It just dawned on me. Crab... Krabi?

Hmmmm. Takes me a while, but I eventually get there.

I’d read that Krabi was a good location to do some island hopping, so that’s exactly what we did.  We had originally planned on doing a four-island tour but changed our mind to do a seven-island snorkelling and sunset buffet tour instead. Seven islands... or four islands... I think they were the same tour, just categorized and priced differently. I most certainly did not count seven islands while we were out for the day.

Island #1 ~ There was Ko Thap. Now... directly across from it was a little island that you can walk to when it's low tide. BUT... it was high tide, so technically we did not visit it.

Island #2 ~ There was Ko Kai (Chicken Island... because it's 'kind of' shaped like a chicken)

Island #3 ~ There was Ko Poda. We stopped near Secret Beach to snorkel... and then moved around to the other side of the island to have dinner and watch the sunset.

Three islands. That's it.

Four stops... five if you include the stop we made to look at the plankton.

I desperately tried to add it up to total that number, but I was unsuccessful.

No one on the tour was very kind. They were all quite mean actually.

Both Sammy and I tried to smile at people and be nice... but no one smiled. At one point, I made a little joke to one of the guys on the tour and he scowled at me.

Ok... not funny, I guess. Moving on...

When we boarded the boat, I took a seat at the very front. I figured that would be a prime spot for photo taking. Well, the only thing prime about it was getting drenched. I was in a direct line of fire from bombarding waves and ended up soaked right through. There was nothing I could do but just sit there and take the thrashing. Everyone saw what a horrible seat I'd selected, which resulted in me being stuck with it the entire day. At one point, after our first stop, I made a feeble attempt to move to the back of the boat, but all I did was confuse everyone, who had assigned themselves their seat for the duration.

The buffet was meh.

The sea was decidedly murky, making snorkelling not too hypnotic... although I did see quite a few rainbow fish. The guide told us that the waters were cloudy due to the winds. I don't know if I believed him, but I really didn't have much choice.

At the second snorkelling stop, I opted to stay in the boat. I've never been a huge fan of open water... I just feel like I’m a sitting duck… or... more fitting... a sitting seal? Or a swimming seal, flapping around, just waiting for a shark to eat me.  That's exactly the reason I didn't jump in to experience the plankton as well. What's worse than open water? Open water in the dark.

Everyone kept telling me that there were no sharks.

Yeah,.. ok.

Only every single movie ever made in Thailand pretty much has someone dying from a shark attack. I’m no dummy.

"Everything was fun until Jo got killed by a great white."

Sammy is confident that she’s watched enough scuba diving reels online that she could just push away any shark coming at her. I don't think she's fully considered the attacks from below or behind... but her confidence is impressive. Sharks are tricky. My luck, I would attempt to push it away and it would bite my hand off.  Then there’d be a blood bath, and that would just intrigue more sharks to swim over... and then it would be all over for poor me.

Shark supper.

So yeah... open water / deep water / dark water.

I'm good.

I love the mountainous bumps emerging from the ocean. These limestone cliffs and caves resemble melting skulls and skeletons to me. I know that sounds dark and absolutely dreadful, but it's true. No doubt, there is something very intriguing, but also daunting and haunting at the same time.

The food in the Krabi market was second to none. The best.

Because it was the weekend, there was an enormous market with the usual assorted crafts & trinkets, sarongs & elephant clothing... and most importantly, tasty treats. On one evening, I couldn't help myself... I went all out. Everything was tempting me and I felt it was my tourist duty to at least try it... all of it. I had myself a wee market feast of street food, loading up on sausages, spring rolls, roti, potato balls, sushi, steamed buns, dumplings... You name it, I bought it.

I got my buffet back to the hotel and laid it all out on the bed, preparing for my banquet feast.  I was salivating just looking at it... everything was perfect and I couldn't wait to dig in. Then I accidentally spilled the roti curry sauce all over my white sheets. It was my undeniably my fault.

Who sets up a hotel picnic of Thai street food on white bed linen?

Especially someone as clumsy as me???

So now my sheets and my comforter looked like I'd had a horrendous case of diarrhea. The staff were going to think I pooed.

Without a doubt.

I had heard mixed reviews about Phi Phi and I was keen to check the islands out and decipher for myself what it was like. Paradise or nightmare? Well… by the time I got around to booking the ferry, it was too late and everything had sold out. I could’ve signed up for another Phi Phi island hopping venture but doing back-to-back tourist tours with the hoards seemed a bit too much to handle.

Sammy had expressed interest in doing a half-day sea kayaking adventure, but I'll admit, I was hesitant... thinking it might be a reenactment of the bamboo floating fiasco...

It wasn't.

It was fabulous!


Along with four others and a guide, we explored the beautiful hidden bays of Ao Thalane Bay. We paddled through the lush mangrove jungle, around canyons, caves and the towering cliffs. The karst formations resembled melting skeletons and skulls even more considering I was so close! The paddle of the haunted death skulls...

One of the couples in our group were very inexperienced and could not control their kayak at all. Despite their inadequacies, they were determined to always be ahead of us and would paddle like mad to beat us anywhere, which only resulted in frequent collisions and awkward encounters when it should have been nothing but chill vibes. The disrespect didn't stop there. They were like the loose cannons of the kayak world. In addition to continuously wanting to be in front, they were unpredictable and their behaviour was borderline offensive. At one point, Sammy yelled out, “You guys need to go to the back,” but they did not heed her advice. Nor did they seem to take into consideration why she would possibly say such a thing.

The guide had warned us of low tide and how it might be difficult to maneuver one section of the sea stream. Is that what it's called?

He was right.

As soon as we entered into the low tide area, the atmosphere completely shifted. It was like it went from a breath of fresh nature's air... to nature's tomb. Everything turned dark and murky.... and muddy. Very muddy. We weren't cruising the hidden lagoons of paradise anymore. A few times, we had to jump out of the kayak to lug it through the shallow sections. Hauling the kayak along, trudging through knee-deep mud, scrambling over rocks and logs and sticks... was interesting.

It wasn’t easy.

But... it was an experience... and we made it.

Strongest arms in the world after kayaking all afternoon
Strong to the finnich...

I figured my arms would be either super buff or super sore the following day, but I was wrong on both accounts. I managed to endure the physical activity well. Tea would have been proud.

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