Takeaway

Feeling Krabi

Tania Banerjee | Updated on October 23, 2020 Published on October 22, 2020

Hearty spread: A view of Ton Sai village from Ko Phi Phi Don, a coral island west of mainland Krabi   -  TANIA BANERJEE

Be it a clifftop or the turquoise waters of a lagoon, this Thai province is a feast for the eyes

* The Tubkaek region is also the starting point of a 3.7-km-long Dragon Crest Mountain hiking trail. At the end of the steep climb is a ledge that offers striking views of the forest and the Andaman Sea

* Ko Phi Phi Don is a limestone and coral island west of mainland Krabi

I am next. I push open the door of a tiny cabin. A woman greets me with a fake smile. I put on a brave face and the conversation begins. “If you don’t book this transport right now, you are doomed. No other transport is available from the drop point in Krabi. You have to walk,” she says for the fourth time, her face turning stern. I repeat, “No, thank you” — and walk out of the tourist trap. With a zero-battery phone, I am somewhere on the highway between Bangkok and the province of Krabi in southern Thailand.

The overnight ‘tourist’ bus journey from Bangkok has been a nightmare. Passengers cooped in the bus from 6pm were half-dead of hunger when the dinner stop arrived an hour after midnight. This was followed by a shocking two-hour stop at dawn where sleepy tourists were coerced into paying thousands of baht more for sketchy services.

As promised, we are dumped by the side of palm plantations and stretches of green. Left with little choice, I follow the dirt track and walk to the highway. A songthaew (a shared van or truck-like vehicle) agrees to drop me at Ao Nang beach, at a fraction of the cost quoted earlier by the agent. From Ao Nang, I hire a cab to one of the northernmost fringes of Krabi province — Tubkaek beach, my abode for two days.

At five in the evening, the sky is on fire. I dunk my feet into the wet sand waiting for the lapping waves of the Andaman Sea to trickle some of the grains away. In the horizon, limestone karsts of Hong Island archipelago jut out their heads. A longtail boat, the local short distance water conveyance, chops through the calm water. Before retreating for the night, I spot a starfish lying dead in the grave of sand.

Next morning, while swimming in the aquamarine sea, I realise that except for two kayakers bobbing on the water faraway, I have the shore to myself. However, I need to be wary of two dangers — the rocky projections that I often step onto and jellyfish. A few metres ahead some fish shoot out of the water and plunge back in. Imagining piranhas coming for me, I sprint out of the water.

After lounging on the beach for a while, I enter the sea again. This time I am in the company of fishermen and fisherwomen who stand firm in chest-deep water with their fishing poles. There is no communication except odd smiles and head nods. Somehow, their presence comforts me from my imagined piranha predators.

The Tubkaek region is also the starting point of a 3.7-km-long Dragon Crest Mountain hiking trail. At the end of the steep climb is a ledge that offers striking views of the forest and the Andaman Sea. After swimming in the sea for hours and a full lunch, I set off for this hike in the afternoon. Tired, sweaty and vanquished, I have to abort the trek midway.

Thankfully, two days later, in Ko Phi Phi Don, a limestone and coral island west of mainland Krabi, I get an opportunity to redeem my crumbling confidence in my own fitness. At 5am, just when the partying tourists have gone to bed, I walk on the island’s deserted streets seeking the origin of the Phi Phi View Points trail.

I take flights of steep concrete staircases — the beginning of the hike. The cool morning breeze makes the journey comfortable. After a hard climb, I arrive at a landscaped garden, the first ‘view point’. Beyond here, the trail is gently uphill.

As I continue, it feels like I am walking in a garden in the middle of a rainforest. Coconut and several evergreen trees hem the paved path. The silence is broken by chirping crickets. Soon I arrive at the second landscaped garden with the second viewpoint. I can see Ton Sai beach in the south, Loh Dalum beach in the north and, in between them on a narrow isthmus, sits Ton Sai village. A clutch of early risers joins me on the edgy rocks.

I continue further up a dirt road. A snake crawls past. The crowing of a rooster and the sight of a parked minivan reveal traces of habitation and the existence of a proper road. A few minutes later, I find a plush resort and a well-decked campsite. Along a mud path, worn-out boards point deeper into the woods at three different directions — the other ends of the island. By the time I reach the third viewpoint, the sun is shining brightly in the eastern sky, painting the southern lagoon turquoise. Beneath a lush canopy of leaves I descend into the water.

My Thailand trip is about to end. After one more dip, of course.

Tania Banerjee is a freelance writer based in Mumbai

Travel log
  • Getting there
  • The Krabi province and city are well connected by buses and flights from Bangkok. Hire a cab from anywhere in Krabi to reach Tubkaek beach. Ko Phi Phi Don is accessible by ferries from Ao Nang beach of Krabi province.
  • Stay
  • Amari Vogue Krabi is a self-sufficient boutique resort with an infinity pool. Tariff starts around ₹7,000(per night on double occupancy). Phi Phi Sand Sea View resort is located in Ton Sai Bay in Ko Phi Phi Don and costs around ₹3,500 per night.
  • BLink Tip
  • From Tubkaek Beach, make a day trip to the green Hong Island archipelago.

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Published on October 22, 2020
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