This is a TR in a continuing series of TRs from our 9 week trip to SEAsia. U may find the other portions of the TR here
Not One Night in BKK - Bangkok
Down by the River - Luang Prabang
Rolling on the River -Mekong River
At the Beach - AoNang
We took a cab early to the Chiang Mai Airport for our two-leg/two airline (Bangkok Air and Air Asia) trip to Krabi Airport in southern Thailand. The trip turned out to be less problematic than we’d feared; in fact, it was completely painless. We checked our bags with Bangkok Air for the first leg, retrieved them in Bangkok and rechecked it with Air Asia for the Krabi leg. We arrived in Krabi in driving rain, rain so thick we could see sheets of water swirling across the parking lot outside the Krabi airport. We’d arranged in advance with our hotel for a driver; he deposited us at our hotel, the Aonang Phu Petra, about forty minutes later. Phu Petra proved to be pleasant choice – enormous rooms, a comfortable bed, fabulous staff and a stunning setting beneath immense karst cliffs. It only had two drawbacks: 1) the rooms had lighting that was too dim to read by, and 2) it is popular with “family” travelers. (We had a room next to a couple with the world’s crankiest baby for our first three nights; the third night we were serenaded in stereo when another couple with another crying baby moved into the room on our other side.) The Phu Petra had an aggressive spraying schedule – a noisy treatment of the grounds with billowing clouds of foggy insecticide at regular weekly intervals. It kept mosquitoes to a minimum, although I was leery of the spray itself and we left the grounds immediately the day the spraying started.
The Phu Petra is outside of Aonang town, but within walking distance. However, part of the road is dimly lit and we generally relied on the hotel shuttle for travel to and from town. The shuttle had a somewhat perplexing schedule. It went into town every hour in afternoon and evening, but only offered return trips every two hours.
We’d come to the south of Thailand because we’d read that the landscape of eroded karst hills and cliffs is spectacular (it is) and the beaches beautiful (they are). But we’re not really beach people; neither of is have the inclination or patience to lay in the sun. Not that it mattered at the beginning - it rained pretty much constantly our first evening and then intermittently on our second day. Aonang is something of a tourist beach town, with lots of Europeans and Australians and lots of drinking. After the great food we’d had in northern Thailand, the food in both the town and the hotel seemed overpriced and mediocre by comparison. (Prices were roughly three times what we’d been paying in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.) Some of the better restaurants were:
• Aonang Cuisine (good satay, although small portions);
• Laelay (great view – we saw the best sunset of the trip there – expensive, high quality food); and
• Baan Lay (fantastic clams with garlic and very good grilled seafood).
Mornings arrived with the sound of roosters, monkeys and a call to prayer from the nearby mosque (much more melodic than that in Pai). We typically ate breakfast at the hotel, which offered a buffet of Western and Thai choices, spent a little time at the pool and then headed into town. On our third day, we took a crowded long tail boat to Railey Beach, which was spectacular under huge cliffs. We explored a bit, talking a path towards the interior. About three hundred feet from the beachfront, on a trail in the jungle, we found the shattered remains of three boats that had been thrown there by the 2004 tsunami. Our final day we spent touring four islands in the Andaman Sea with Elizabeth from Andaman Camp & Cruise recommended by rhkmk, www.anadamancampandcruise.com. All of the islands were spectacular, typically with the high cliffs characteristic of the area. The water was clear and there was an abundance of brilliantly-colored tropical fish. It was pleasant being on a boat with a grand total of five people: Elizabeth, her young son, the pilot and ourselves. Elizabeth, originally Australian, lived in Thailand and related amusing stories of her life there. Over the course of the day, in comedic repetition, we would arrive at an island in time to do a little sightseeing, snorkel a bit and then flee to the next destination after one or more long tail boats carrying twenty plus passengers apiece showed up. We had a great onboard lunch and took a lot of photographs. We returned the next day to Bangkok for an overnight stay before heading on to Hanoi. And that was our week in the south – arriving to the sound of babies and departing with a snorkeling sunburn across my shoulders. We stayed six days in Aonang and should have only stayed four at most. Sorry, if I make it sound dull. Aonang is a great town if you like beaches. But, as I mentioned before, we’re really not beach people.