Monday

We booked an early departure from Koh Phi Phi. It's a fun place for a couple of days but after that it's easy to get your fill of drunk tourists and trashed beaches. Gone are the days of the pristine, undiscovered paradises from Alex Garland's novel, at least as far as Koh Phi Phi is concerned. The ferry brought us back to Krabi and from there we got a transfer to Ao Nang. In Ao Nang we had the shuttle driver drop us at the corner on the beach where a booth selling longboat tickets was located, and bought three tickets to Railay Beach. This time, rather then spending a few hours on the breathtaking beach, we had decided to book a hotel there.


We stumbled out of the longtail and onto the beach, wondering where our hotel might be from here. Luckily we didn't have to wonder for long, as right next to the little strip labeled "Walking Street" There was a sign pointing us toward our hotel.

We checked in, dropped off our bags, and then went to walk around Railay in search of lunch. Railay beach is a cool area; there's the west beach where our hotel was located and where the longtail dropped us off, also where the picture above was taken, then several paths cut across to the east beach. The Southern point is all sheer cliff faces, with a third beach in the middle. Everything to the north is cliffs as well.

(Image found on Google) 
Somewhere along a path, halfway between the east and west beaches, we found a little shack of a place to stop and eat. The little shacks always have the best food and this one was no exception. I ordered seafood and pineapple fried rice, which came served in the hallowed out skin of the pineapple. Fried rice, in America, is usually not anything more then a side dish of rice that is fried. In Thailand it's an entirely different affair. Thai fried rice is a whole meal, containing anything and everything: meats, veggies, cashews, pineapple, seafood; whatever your heart desires. Sometimes it is served in a pineapple, and when it is, it's only fitting to order a fresh coconut to drink on the side.

After lunch we continued walking over to the east beach and found a little tour center with prices about a quarter of what they had been for the same tours from our hotel. If you're ever booking excursions, don't do so from your hotel, the prices will be a fortune compared to what they are elsewhere. We had been eying a four island tour and were thrilled to find that here it would cost the same for all three of us as it would have cost per person through our hotel.

We walked back to the west beach where there were kayaks available for rent. We rented two of them, each two-person kayaks, and so Macala asked the local boy renting them to us if he would come along and be our guide. He left for a moment, presumably to ask his coworker if he could leave, and several moments later was leading us on a breathtaking tour of the cliffs, several of which had caves just big enough for a kayak to paddle through.

(Photo by Macala) 
We paddled over to the third beach and dragged our kayaks onto the sand, right in the midst of a film production. Massive cameras were set up everywhere and actresses and actors taking a break looked like they were dressed for a Bollywood film. Half the beach was covered by the production. Our new friend, who didn't speak much English, led us past the hoopla and over to a cave in the rock face which was filled with hundreds and hundreds of phallic shaped statues. Welcome to Phra Nang Cave.

(Photo by Macala)
Atlas Obscura has this to say regarding the bizarre penis cave: 
According to legend, Phra Nang was an Indian princess who was killed in a shipwreck. In another tale, Phra Nang was the wife of a fisherman who was lost at sea. She lived out the rest of her days in the cave, awaiting her husband's return.

Today, local fisherman and boatmen leave offerings in Phra Nang cave to ensure safe travel on the sea. These offers take the form of male genitalia - the cave is covered in many "linga", or phallic-shaped statues meant to represent the Hindu god Shiva. The offerings in Phra Nang cave are especially realistic - the penises have discernible ridges and heads. They are decorated with colorful cloth, and the cave is filled with incense.
(Photo Courtesy of Fletch)
None of us were quite sure what to make of the place.

We continued on our kayak tour and found a rock jutting out of the water for Macala to boulder up. A little while later Fletch and I jumped into the water with masks to see if we could see anything. The visibility wasn't the best but there were a few small reef fish swimming around.

As we started making our way back to the west beach of Railay, the sun began to set and we stopped the kayaks and watched with wonder as the sun did its thing. This was Thailand, this beautiful ocean, the sun setting in the distance, beautiful cliffs sounding us, kayaks underneath us; it didn't get much better than this. That was the last sunset we actually sat and enjoyed in Thailand, and it was about as perfect as sunsets get. When I think back on Thailand, a lot of beautiful memories will come to mind, but that one will be at the top. 

(Photo by Macala) 
We returned the kayaks, then went back to our room to change into dry clothes, then walked around in search of dinner. There was a little strip called "Walking Street," which was more a path with a restaurant and a couple of souvenir shops then an actual street. We decided to stop at the restaurant as it had a full bar, but upon sitting down and looking at the menus, decided we'd rather eat at the little shack of a place we had gone to for lunch. We plotted a sneaky escape, not wanting to offend anyone. Fletch left to use the bathroom and a couple minutes later Macala and I walked in the opposite direction to look at one of the souvenir shops. The sneaking probably wasn't necessary but it was entertaining nonetheless. 

We headed back to the same place we had gone to for lunch. Nothing we ordered came out as it was supposed to, Macala's green curry was actually yellow, and my stir-fried mushrooms and squid was missing the squid, but despite that, the food was still too good to bother mentioning the mistakes. 

We walked back to the east beach in search of a bar, but I guess the downfall of staying on a remote little beach is that there's not much nightlife. Everything seemed to be closed. We finally found a rasta bar that was open and sat down at the bar despite the lack of anything going on inside. We asked the bartender if he had any milkshakes and he told us that he had just thrown out his last batch an hour ago. We went ahead and ordered a round of drinks and another bartender came over to us and asked if we wanted to play thai jenga. We didn't get a chance to answer because he was already setting the game up in front of us. I'd never played thai jenga before but it looks something like this:


We played for quite a while, the first bartender playing with us and of course he was unbeatable. The game went on and on until the structure was so high that we had to use a stepping stool to reach the top of it. Shortly before it came tumbling down it looked something like this: 


We stayed at the bar playing jenga much later then we had planned on. At several points our bartender passed around a sandwich, just because he was a cool bartender. What was an empty bar slowly turned into a very crowded place, and the most happening place on the beach it would seem. Eventually though we drifted back to our hotel and fell asleep. 

Tuesday

We woke up in plenty of time to grab breakfast and pack up before catching our "four island tour." While half of my luggage was sitting waiting at the train station in Bangkok, the half I had brought with me was the most worn out, sun bleached clothing I owned, simply so that I could leave it all and save some room in my luggage. So I packed up my dive gear and left the stack of worn out clothing on the bed. Maybe some Thai girl would be able to use it. 

We were all fairly worn out during the four island tour, so I really couldn't tell you what the names of any of the islands were. We were loaded into a large longtail boat with about fifty other tourists and dropped off on various pretty beaches. On the first island we just laid out on the beach suntanning. The past two weeks running around the country had made my skin go back to its fair color and I wasn't about to go home without a little bit of a tan. 

We went to an island called Chicken Island, so named because the rock looks like a chicken. 

(Image found on Google)
We were dropped off at two different snorkeling places, neither of which was very impressive compared to the spots we had been in Koh Phi Phi and on Koh Tao. It was still enjoyable though; it was our last opportunity to be in the ocean before leaving Thailand. 

The last beach the boat brought us to we were served a lunch of green curry. There were monkeys running wild along the beach, trying to steal unsuspecting tourists' lunches. We ate and soaked in some more sun and took in the view until it was time to depart. 

The boat dropped us off at the beach that the penis cave was on.  Apparently at the far end of the beach there was a trail leading back to the west beach of Railay. Once we found the trail we were glad the boat had dropped us off here, because the path led in and out of a series of caves. Some of these caves were as big as rooms, with paths leading up to higher levels. Some of them came back out to the main path through a hole barely big enough for me to climb through. At the end of the series of caves were monkeys hanging out in the trees wanting food. 

We found ourselves back at the hotel, and used the showers at the pool to rinse off and change into dry clothes. Fletch and I suddenly found ourselves at the end of our grand Thailand adventure. We would be leaving Macala here and making our way back up to Bangkok. We said our goodbyes, knowing that we would be seeing each other again at some point in the future. 

The journey home was a long one, beginning with a taxi boat from Railay Beach to Ao Nang. In Ao Nang we purchased a transfer shuttle to the Krabi airport, and from there flew up to Bangkok. From the Bangkok airport we hopped in a metered taxi and drove to Khao San Road. We checked into Khao San Palace for the night, then found a tuk tuk to take us to the train station to pick up our luggage that had been left two weeks before. Then took the tuk tuk back to Khao San Road, and after dropping more luggage off in our little room, walked over to the restaurant where we had had our last Thailand meal a year ago. Luckily this dinner wasn't as emotional as the one the year previous had been; it didn't seem to be hitting either of us this time around that we were leaving Thailand. After running around the country for two weeks this just felt like more traveling. 

We stayed up late repacking all of our luggage, then woke up early the next morning to catch a 4:30 taxi to the airport. 

Wednesday

Goodbye Thailand. 

I hate to leave you with an ending as anticlimactic as that, but what else is there to say? I had an incredible nine months, full of colorful memories, unforgettable experiences, and amazing people. I'm not going to try to sum up nine months of living life to the fullest into one little sentimental conclusion. Go back and read the stories again if you want, or stay tuned for the next adventure.