After Ko Yao Yai and Ko Yao Noi, my next stop was the mainland town of Krabi. I had heard Krabi was nice and figured it was worth stopping for a night or two.
The town itself was a nice combination of bustling Thai retail shops and food markets, intermixed with cafes, restaurants, and backpacker hostels. There were a couple of neighboring beaches that were supposed to be good, too.
Getting to Krabi turned out to be a bit of an adventure though. But without any plan or timeline, I was merely amused by these situations rather than stressed out.
On Monday, November 16, 2015, I took a speedboat from Ko Yao Yai to Krabi. Easy right? Wrong. We ran out of gas halfway there! How that happened, I have no idea. That said, these multi-engine speedboats do suck up the gas: 200 liters a day, is what the captain said.
The captain called for a second boat to bring us fuel, then he and his 2-man crew whipped out makeshift fishing lines and started fishing, as if it was a perfectly normal day. It was hilarious! Meanwhile, some of the passengers were getting nervous as they had planes or buses to catch. As for me, I just sat back and enjoyed watching the scene unfold. I certainly didn’t mind the quiet drifting (kind of like sailing) instead of the thunderous roar of the three 250 horsepower engines we had on board. The crew didn’t catch any fish, but I was amazed at how calm they were despite the risk of disappointed passengers. You might say they were opportunistic, using the down time to do something productive.
Upon arriving at the pier at Ao Nang (adjacent to Krabi), my adventure continued. I had to find my hotel in Krabi, about 30 minutes away over land. I had the address and cross streets, but that was it. I was too budget conscious to just hire a taxi, though that certainly would have been the easiest and “old Dan” solution.
Instead, I asked my speedboat captain and he pointed to an intersection and said “Bus.” The bus turned out to be just a pickup truck with bench seating in the back. I hopped on for 50 baht (about $1.50) and hoped for the best, not having any idea about the route or where to get off.
I knew Krabi was about 30 minutes from the pier. So I set my watch and at the 30 minute mark, I jumped out of the pickup (at a stoplight).
It would have been easy to just hop into an internet café and update google maps, but for some reason I was too stubborn to do that. I just asked a few people for directions to my hotel and then walked a bit, then asked a few more people and walked again. After about 45 minutes, I finally found it. Turns out it was actually very close to where I originally got off the pickup truck! Clearly I got a series of only semi-accurate directions.
My hotel was called “Grandmom Place,” and turned out to be decent, in a great location, and only $28/night.
That evening, I just parked myself at Mr. Krab-I restaurant, where I met the owner Max. He’s an ex-sailor and rigger so we talked for quite a while. He was a very interesting guy, having worked on America’s Cup boats, Wally yachts, etc.
I spent the next day back at Ao Nang beach. It was quite pretty, especially the very small island just a few hundred yards offshore. (I swam, well waded, there.)
After a swim and lunch, I headed back to the hotel via pickup truck. It was another adventure. This time, although I had a vague idea where my hotel was, the driver was going so fast that I found it difficult to orient myself. I guessed again, and guessed wrong. I ended up walking in the pouring rain for 30 minutes.
That evening, I headed to the night market and was tempted to indulge in all of the street food that was super cheap (e.g., a plate of pad thai for a dollar). After some stomach troubles in Bangkok, I withstood the temptation and instead headed to Viva Restaurant to meet Renato, a friend of Max from last night. Renato was super nice, and my vegetarian pizza was outstanding. His restaurant was nice, clean, and friendly.
I closed the night with some live music at a bar near my hotel. But I didn’t stay out late because the next day I would head to Ko Jum, and that’s where the real adventure would begin. I would meet my host, see my new “home,” and learn about exactly what volunteering work I would be doing.