Friday, 30 January 2009

How the other half live

Jen's sisters – Sanni and Emmi – arrived today. Unfortunately we missed them at the airport as their domestic flight had disembarked at international arrivals. To top off our frustration, the taxi driver on the way back to Karon tried to offload us at a scamming travel agents. For the second time in two days we were met by aggressive touts who wanted us to get out of the transport so that they could 'check our destination'. The scam goes like this: they ask where your staying, pretend to phone and then tell you that your accommodation is full (which it isn't – you've booked). You then get pressured into paying for alternative expensive accommodation. We found out later that Sanni and Emmi had had the same experience and had wisely stayed in their taxi too.

We eventually caught up with the girls at the Hilton. They were busy sipping champagne in the lobby and relaxing whilst their room was being prepared. Their room was amazing and an extremely comfortable place to spend eight days. We particularly liked the towel which was folded to make an elephant. For comparison we've attached a photo of our own room (bottom right) – we turned the lights on to make it look more atmospheric.

We made the most of the late afternoon sun and headed for the beach. Sanni and Emmi slept off some of their jet lag whilst simultaneously building up a tan. We were horrified by the dress code of this older gentleman.

Video of base jump has now been added.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Tales from Ton Sai

The beaches in Krabi are set amongst soaring limestone cliffs, lush jungle and turquoise water. The Phra Nang Princess beach with its shiny white sand is one of the most beautiful beaches we've seen so far. Our home for the last eight days was a little bungalow set back from the palm fringed beach of Ton Sai.

The Krabi area is a mecca for rock climbers, who come from all corners of the world to climb on the limestone formations. Apart from the ice climbing that we did in Nepal, Jen hadn't climbed at all in the last nine months. But old habits die hard, and she was in heaven when she was got her hands on rock again, with Massimo and Claire leading the way. Mia and Jens from Sweden, who we met on the Island Peak trip in Nepal, have been in Krabi for a month. They gave some excellent pointers for the best climbs around.

We spent a lot of time swimming, sunbathing and sipping sunset cocktails and beers in the beach side bars. The main entertainment in the climbers bars seemed to be fire shows, with some performing their tricks on a slack rope fitted in between two palm trees. One afternoon, we hired some kayaks to explore the islands, sea caves and beaches. Andy was an excellent guide as he had been kayaking twice already. We found a 20-meter slack rope between two rocks in the sea and tried to jump up to it. Claire was hanging off the rope upside down, when she saw a giant pink jellyfish in the water right under her face. We were all in hysterics, and Andy went to the rescue with the two-seater kayak.

While relaxing on the beach last night, we got quite a surprise when we could see a person on top of Ton Sai Tower. We suspected that he might be about to do a base jump down the huge rock face of the Tower. And so he did. It was equally exciting and scary, as we were worried something would go wrong. As the adrenaline junkie landed on the beach, we realised that it was actually a she – Linda from Sweden. She has done 200 base jumps around the world. She caused quite a stir amongst the male crowd... You can watch our video of her jump here.

The food in Krabi was a bit of a mixed bag. Over breakfast, Andy saw one shack-owner pick out last night's unsold cooked chicken from the cold box and re-heating it on the barbecue again. Another restaurant's seafood was swarming with flies, and the salad was left sitting in the open air for hours before it was eaten. Regardless of this, we managed to find some really nice food and kept returning to the places that we knew were good (and safe)!