What I Learned in Krabi, Thailand
It was the first time since moving to Korea that I had a summer vacation akin to summer vacation growing up. I had two complete months of freedom and at the beginning I couldn’t wait to get out and about. When I realized that not too many of my friends had similar job schedules and I’d be doing most of the things I wanted to by myself I thought that was fine, I’m an independent gal.
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Being independent and doing things alone isn’t the same thing though, the first of a few lessons learned this hot season.
My husband was busy wrapping up a very successful TV drama with concerts and the production of a music video and more concerts so I thought there was no better time than now to head down to Krabi, Thailand to visit an old friend. We’d lived together seven years ago here in Korea. It was the first school on the peninsula for both of us and luckily we found each other and formed a very long lasting friendship that included three years here, living together off and on, a backpacking trip through Nepal and India and many Skype calls and emails since she moved to Thailand. I’d seen her pictures of the place over the years and couldn’t wait to enjoy the trip swimming in the ocean, taking boats as a normal transportation option and digging my feet into the sand.
Unlike me, I headed there without planning and list making ensured by my friend that she knew the best places to send me and how.
I stayed in Krabi town the first night I arrived and a few nights in between trips out to nearby beaches. Krabi is a town that caters to those just passing through. My friend lives in the town and calls this her home now and appreciates that it’s not a big tourist destination. People come and may stay a night or two while just passing through to other beaches or islands. There isn’t terribly much to see in the town itself and certainly not the lovely beaches that are just a short 30 minute long tail boat ride away, but the people that live there are just wonderful. That would be the second lesson I learned, or maybe was just reminded of, this trip away. I find that I, like most travelers I imagine, can be wary when traveling. Wary of people trying to rob me, take advantage of me and the like, but as we should always be a little cautious, there needs to be a good balance and optimism in humanity that there will be good people along the way as well. Constantly being suspicious and guarded would ruin any trip and wouldn’t really allow one a full picture of a place or a culture.
If you’re going to Krabi Town for a stopover, make sure you know where to stay because there really are some great places there and some lovely locals to meet and sites to see. Tairada Boutique Hotel offers a unique stay in this cool little town. The River Scene Hotel offers comfort while away from home and The White Pearl Hotel is another great place to stay with friends or family while visiting the area.
Thais on motorbikes stopped as I walked on the sidewalk and asked where I was headed and then gave me directions when I let them know. The first few times this happened I responded with a general “that way” or “just up there”, wondering what their motivation for asking me was. Were they going to follow me? Why would they be interested in where I was headed? By the end of my ten days, it seemed they just wanted to make sure I wasn’t lost, or they were motorbike taxi drivers offering a ride. I had never seen a motorbike taxi before this trip and the thought of them existing hadn’t ever dawned on me. There was the old couple that saw me standing on the side of the road waiting for a van like bus to go to Aonang, a town 30 minutes away, and just kept saying, “Aonang?”… “Aonang” and gesturing toward their car. Eventually after I tried to no avail to explain, in English, that I would catch the next van coming by I hopped in their car and they took me to Aonang for free. The only English they knew was “name” and “country” and after I answered with “Hallie” and “America” they continued their conversation in Thai for the rest of the trip. There was the Venezuelan girl that I spent the day with in Railay and the couple from India that I snorkeled with around Phi Phi. There was the long boatman Ally who took me to Khao Khanab Nam, the symbol of Krabi, and stopped the boat to take a picture of me in front of the rocks with my camera without being asked to. These were the people that reminded to trust in good people existing around the world. A lesson that I hope to learn again and again.
Krabi Town is not the destination in Thailand but when I think of where I would want to travel it hits every bullet point on the head.
This was the third lesson I learned. Though my friend reminded me numerous times that Krabi Town would not be the picture perfect beach destination that people expect out of Thailand vacations and even continued to remind me while I was there, I couldn’t help but think it didn’t need to be that. When I travel I want to see the people that call the place home. I want to eat where the locals eat and see what life is like and for that Krabi was perfect. We ate in some local restaurants where we were the only foreigners. We headed to locals pubs after for Thai beer and listened to local musicians share their reggae beats. I walked the streets and became familiar with them in a matter of days and thought I was glad to be in this town in this country to see what life is like.
The trip was a stellar success. It was a trip that I learned about myself and got to experience a new place two things that make any journey worth it. I learned that though I may not like to travel alone there will be nice people that I will meet making it exhilarating and enjoyable. I learned that the destination doesn’t have to be picture perfect to make a good trip. Though these lessons may be obvious at times, I think I needed this little reminder and the respite away.