Monday, October 26, 2015

Krabi Town - the journey begins...

So my love affair with Thailand finally continues. Though it has only been a year since last time (which almost doesn’t count really, as it was only 2 days in Koh Lipe), I was itching to go back to my favourite country. The wait for the end of October seemed to take eons. I had booked so much earlier in the year so the months and weeks had dragged on and on. Impatient to start the holiday, we spent the night before our flights at the airport hotel. With a 6am flight, and living well over an hour from the airport, it was totally justified to be closer for a more convenient departure. As it was J and my 10 year anniversary, we decided it was part of our celebration, coupled with an expensive meal and vintage champagne.

Not a whole lot to report about the flights; Melbourne to Sydney (with breakfast in an almost empty Qantas lounge), Sydney to Bangkok, then a short hop Bangkok to Krabi on Bangkok Airways. I have to say, the service on the Bangkok air flight was great – lovely Thai meals and drinks service for a flight that was barely an hour (and the same on the return homeward flight too). Qantas could learn a lot about how to service passengers from them. Suvarnabhumi airport is still under construction, or renovation, and had the dreaded long queues to clear immigration.

Knowing we were arriving in the late afternoon / evening, we chose not to try to get to Koh Lanta that night, which would have involved private cars and much money. Instead, we stayed one night at a guesthouse in Krabi town. We had arranged to be picked up by Phoom, the manager of Grandmom Place (the guest house), and we were in our room, and back out again, within an hour.

It was a Sunday night and I knew the night market would be on, which would provide plenty of entertainment for our evening. Knowing it was nothing like the big tourist markets or shopping strips of Ao Nang or Phuket, I was looking forward to a relaxed browse. There was a good selection of stalls, mostly geared towards locals, with lots of food and clothing. But there were also some touristy wares, with jewellery, art, candles and wood carving – the usual souvenir fodder. In the centre of the market, there was a clearing with seats for people to eat etc, as well as a stage. DJs alternated dance beat music with local singers and bands. I’m not sure what the occasion was (or even if there was one), but it provided a great backdrop to the night. 

After doing a circuit of the stalls and buying a cool woven hippy style top and a few bracelets, we settled into one of the café/restaurants overlooking the action. With Chang beers in hand and yummy spring rolls, we relaxed enjoying watching the world go by. One thing that caught my attention was a little bar. It was different in the way the drinks were served. Not in a glass, or plastic container. Not a milkshake cup. No. In bamboo – like in the hollow cane/stick part. They had a huge selection of cocktails - all for 180 Thai bhat, or around $7 Aussie dollar - bargain. Though I tried, J wouldn’t buy me one…

For no good reason, we were up before 6am the next morning. Sure, we had an early night the night before, stopping for some more beers on the way back to the guesthouse due to the market closing up at around 9:30pm, but getting up that early on holiday is not right! Ceasing the opportunity for a good walk in the cool of the morning, we headed out for a walk along the river to Khao Khanap Nam. It, or should I say they, are a couple of rocky outcrops up along the river. About 100 metres high, they sort of frame the river and Krabi town, like a gate. You can see them from Krabi town, anywhere along the river. 

Enjoying the scenic walk, we stopped to look at the various sculptures along the boardwalk.

First off, there was a fascinating metal and tree truck sculpture, with lots of patterns and twisted shapes. We couldn’t find a sign or information about what it represented, but it was a really great piece of art.

A few hundred metres was Nok Awk. The sign explains that Nok Awk, or white-breasted sea eagle is the white bellied eagle, a day hunter, living in trees and breeding in cold season. This Nok Awk sculpture was created by Krabi Municipality to symbolise comprehensive knowledge, self-sufficiency, responsibility and consideration for others. With a quote, “Fly High, Look Far and Reach out Goal”, I wondered if someone forgot to check the spelling i.e. reach our goal… 

We also passed the famous crab sculpture, which was being climbed on and enjoyed by a few local families, as well as these cute little ‘Nemo’ figures, that I think were seats or something, that were dotted along the footpath. 

We walked as far up to Khao Khanap Nam as we could, but you really need a boat to get right up close. There are supposedly some caves with stalactites and it sounded worth a visit. But we were happy with our walk and the opportunity to explore Krabi town.

Before heading back and preparing for our mini bus transfer to Koh Lanta, we visited Wat Kaewkorawaram. A pair of long naga serpents line the stairway up from the main street. It’s a lovely white temple, with ornate finials and multi-tiered roof. Inside, colourful paintings of the Buddha’s life and previous lives adorned the walls. Phoom told us that it was renovated a few years ago, but the temple itself was quite old. I paid my respects as an old local lady sat in the doorway, gently offering a ‘wai’, which I returned with folded palms.

Back at Grandmom place, we figured we had enough time for an early lunch, or second late breakfast. The bus was due to pick us up at approximately 11:15, which was nearly an hour away. So we chose to grab a bite there. Though only fired rice with chicken for J, and just basil and vegies for me, it stands out as one of the most surprisingly simple and delicious meals of our trip. Phoom told us he made it himself from his Grandmother’s recipe. Just as we commenced eating, the bus turned up – almost half an hour early. But they were happy to come back once we finished our meals, which they did as promised at 11:15, the original pick up time.

The minivan company deposited all us passengers at their office from the various pick up locations through town. Stickers indicating our destinations were stuck to our collars as the staff sorted out which vehicle was going where. Then it was on. Phuket passengers to the big, new looking van at the front, Koh Lanta passengers to the smaller, run down van at the back. J and I were among the last to get on, so I got stuck at the back, while J snuck into the front passenger seat beside the driver – maybe the most comfortable and spacious seat on the whole van. Bags were tied to the roof and we were off quickly. 
The trip was actually OK, with good roads and a pit stop to stretch and grab a bite or toilet break. At each of the two car ferries, we had to wait in a long queue of traffic for more than half and hour each, which was the longest part of the journey.

On Koh Lanta, or just Lanta, we were dropped at the side of the road. Pointing down a side road, the driver indicated our hotel was down ‘there’. Wow, I thought, we have to do the last part on foot with all our bags… nice. But alas, a motorbike, sidecar, tuk-tuk arrived that scooped us up and delivered us to our hotel, Lanta Sand. It really was only a few hundred metres from where we were dropped. 

We loved the villa we had booked and quickly set about finding the beach, and then a beach bar to sit, grab a bite and then watch the sun set, which was quite a few beers away. 

After our super early morning, and the long, squishy minivan ride, sleep also came early. From the few hours of daylight we had seen on Lanta, we knew we were in for a beautiful and relaxing holiday.

- K


  1. Thank you for blogging your trip. We are planning on arriving in Krabi on Dec 20 and leaving Dec 23. I was thinking of going to Ko Lanta. Do you recommend staying the final night in Krabi instead? I am unsure of whether we have enough time to go from Ko Lanta to Krabi airport on the 23rd morning to catch a 1:30pm flight. I greatly appreciate your feedback! LK

    1. Hi there,
      Staying the last night in Ao Nang or Krabi town is a good idea before your flight to avoid any drama or delays that could happen - I say it's not worth the stress. If close by, you can have a peaceful morning and have plenty of time to get to your flight. For your limited time in Krabi provence, I'm not sure it's worth going to Lanta - plenty to do and see closer to Krabi town/Ao Nang etc - hope this helps - K

  2. Hi, can you please tell me which minibus service did you book to pick you up from Grandmom place and drive you to Ko Lanta? My flight will be arriving late to Krabi, it's the similar situation as yours above. And do you think the manager will be still willing to pick-up guests from the airport? Many thanks.