Railay or Rai Leh happened immediately the next day and took my breath away. A small stunning peninsula, it is accessible only by long tail boat as high limestone cliffs cut it off from the mainland of Krabi. I had been told that the movie “The Beach” was filmed somewhere there and my massive crush on Leonardo Di Caprio, could have taken me to the end of the earth. Railay, being voted for having some of the most postcard perfect beaches was not too difficult to decide upon. I walked over to the ferry point at the end of Ao Nang beach, hopped into a long tail boat and sailed away for Railay. It took only 30 minutes but the views made me speechless. Thailand’s Andaman Coast, is indeed one of the most beautiful places on earth and there’s no overrating it. Emerald green water, sheer limestone cliffs and a cloudless huge blue sky surrounded me from all sides and the warm sunshine felt wonderful on my face.
Once again I realized why solo traveling is so much fun and happily indulged in the freedom it gave me. I was free to go wherever, whenever, eat anything, wear whatever I felt like and be a complete master of my own life and movements. If that is not freedom, I really don’t know what is. Solo traveling has put me in difficult spots, awkward moments and given me regretful decisions, but then I had nobody to crib to me about them and nobody I could nag to. My life was completely my own and it felt wonderful.
The approach to Railay was as dramatic as the journey and Leonardo or no Leonardo, nothing could have kept me away from there. Contrary to what I had expected (based on the movie The Beach), Railay turned out to be pretty large and not quite isolated. In fact it was extremely popular and was clearly demarcated into the posh Western side with its luxe resorts and restaurants and the backpacker’s hangout at Tonsai.
I got off at the immaculate patch of West Railay beach and immediately scraggy faces of limestone cliffs loomed over me. Railay limestone cliffs are famous for rock climbing and attract climbers from all over the world. The beach was stunning too, with long stretch of silky soft sand and warm clear water. Restaurants, beach huts and resorts ran along the beach and huge cliffs tailed off at the southern end. I lazed on the beach for some time, gazed at the so called Sleeping Indian cliffs and finally lunched at one of beach restaurants.
TRAVEL TIP – The Sleeping Indian cliff make terrific sunset photos and post sunset, the west Railay beach gets empty except for midnight swimmers and illegal skinny dippers. Midnight swims on dark nights are simply magical because millions of electric blue bio-luminescent plankton light up the water like a galaxy of stars. Best appreciated with a pair of swimming/snorkeling goggles these plankton wrap around the swimmer’s body like a wreath of stars and make every movement a sensational trail of millions of tiny dots of twinkling blue. For rock climbers this is one of the most stunning backdrops in the world and courses vary from beginners to professional leading your own climb team. There are numerous climbing and adventure sport outfitters at Railay and the newest buzz is deep water soloing.
For the ultimate adrenaline rush, climbers are nowadays opting for unaided over-water climbing on cliffs and outcrops out at sea with no ropes, bolts or partner. It is known as deep water soloing and is best arranged with one of the rock climbing companies on Railay. They know the best places to climb where the water is deep enough for you to fall in safely without hitting underlying rocks.
Having a time crunch and sheer laziness on my mind, I opted to just walk around the beautiful peninsula. The lunch of pineapple fried rice and a cold bottle of Singha, brought me down by a hefty amount of Baht and I realized that West Railay was definitely upper end and expensive. But the pineapple rice was delicious, the generous sprinkling of seafood very very succulent and the Singha beer as cold as it could in the tropics. I felt very contented and ambled along a trail, watching the climbers scramble it out.
Post lunch I followed a wooded trail past the resorts and reached the mud flats of East Railay. Salamanders ran about the brackish patch and mangrove stuck out dejectedly. A few cheaper accommodations lined along, but the beach was definitely not suitable for swimming. The trail continued and lead me towards Phra Nang. Stunning limestone jaws dropped down over the trail and I paid the Diamond Cave a short visit.
Also known as the Phra Nang cave, formations inside this rather small cave glitter like jewels thus rendering its pretty name. It was a paid attraction and for someone who had seen better caves in Malaysia, Diamond Cave was very much missable. I followed down the trail rapidly totally determined to not make any more stops, till I reached Phra Nang beach. Monkeys, gnarly branches of old trees and sun rays kept me company until the most stunning vista unfolded in front of my eyes. Phra Nang beach on the southern most tip of the peninsula is without a doubt one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Still relatively quiet, un crowded and un spoiled, it was paradise on earth.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE