I got scolded for the previous post not containing enough detail about Railey and how the beaches were gorgeous and about the rastafarian bar tender and about how Erin got peed on by bat. So here goes: the beaches were awesome, there was a rastafarian bar tender and a bat peed on Erin, might have been a monkey though.
Any way, on our last night on Railey we did a 7(ish) island snorkeling/dinner tour. Don’t get it in you head that this was some lavish boat and a nice meal, this was a cram-as-many-people-in-a-long-tail-as-possible type of operation. One thing about Thailand is that no one tells you what the hell is going on…ever. It maybe a language barrier thing, it may just be how things go, but we are all very accustomed to getting itineraries, routes, and procedures spelled out to us before hand. This was perfectly evidenced in the first 10 minutes of the snorkeling trip when 3 British girls in the back of the boat start talking about how they are headed to Ao Nang, a port just north of Railey, catch a bus to Bangkok; someone on the beach had told pointed them to a boat on the beach and they got aboard this one. It wasn’t until out crazy guide, dressed in nothing but tighty-whities and a bed sheet dropped anchor in the middle of the ocean, said: “Okay we snorkel now”, and jumped over board that they realized they were on the wrong boat.
I think we all a bit perplexed. There was sack of busted up masks and snorkels on the side of the boat so people began rummaging through looking for ones that fit. There was no passing them out before hand, no “hey guys you should start getting some gear together”, just “Okay we snorkel now” and a splash. By the time I had found a suitable mask and snorkel (no fins by the way), captain bed sheet pajama pants was already back aboard getting us ready to go to the next spot. It was fine, I was a more than a little annoyed at the packed boat and unavailability of gear…not to mentioned somewhat unnerved by these poor girls who were…just along for the ride. Erin got in though and snorkeled through this arched cave that is only visible at low tide…I think it is called a huong.
The tour moved on, this time to a shallower fishing spot. I know this because when we got there there were people fishing and captain pajama pants really didn’t figure that hooks in the water were all that big of a deal. Eventually, I guess through his refusal to turn off the engine, the fisherman left and people started getting in the water. People stopped after one of the people on the boat, a German girl, jumped in only to have her foot be greeted by a sea urchin…I swear the driver of the boat was going to pee on her foot until he remembered he had some lemons.
By our third stop, everyone had sort of worked out the equipment issues, though, it should be noted that I never found a snorkel that actually worked and we went in around another one of the giant limestone cliffs jutting out of the water. The water visibility wasn’t great but VJ said he saw a reef shark (harmless and really just big fish) and a German guy (of unknown relation to ol’ pee-foot) said he saw a sea snake (seriously venemous and LTFO).
Our fourth stop on the tour (we eventually worked out that this also counted and the fifth and sixth stops of the tour) was actually pretty magnificent. Just off an island called ‘Chicken Island’ is a little grouping of islands. Two of these islands (really just one I guess) is constantly joined by a beach about 300 yards long, but from the middle of this beach, stretching another 500 yards or so is a tiny little bit of sand that is only above water during low tide. This strip of sand connects to the third island in the chain and is the location for some of the best pictures (fingers crossed) that we took on the trip. It was really cool walking along the strait with waves crashing on both side of you…and even a little treacherous on the way back as the tide overtook the sand. We watched the sun set on the beach while captain PJs cooked up dinner. I can’t tell you what it was because by the time it was done it was pitch black dark…there was rice, there was coconut…that’s all I got.
I’ve portrayed this trip so far as being kind of terrible but the truth is that I was probably being a bit of a grump truck, and it really only cost like $5 a piece. This little bit…the disappearing beach, the sunset, a beer, would have been worth the whole thing. We spent the last few minutes kicking the water and getting the bioluminescence to glow…more on that in a minute, and the stranded girls finally got a boat to where they were going.
A crap, just as I wrote something nice about this trip the motor on our stupid long tail boat decided to take a break from operating. After (kind of expertly actually) pointing the boat at a random shoreline and beaching the thing captain PJs and the driver went to work fixing it…apparently it was overheated and needed coolant because they had us passing back or water bottles to use. They got it working again though, and we circled around Railey to the east side of the beach and jumped in the water one last time in a spot that hid the moon from us.
Bioluminescence is by all means a form of underwater voodoo, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t one of the coolest things you ever see. Every movement in the water triggers little planktons to light up like green fire flies. I must have spent 20 minutes just lying perfectly still in the water and quickly flicking fingers open from a closed fist to watch the “sparks” shoot out. To quote VJ: “This is better than drugs.” If you ever get the chance to swim at night in water with these little buggers, I highly recommend it…definately one of the highlights.
The tour was over and we headed back to get changed and hit up our favorite little lounge-mat bar and had some beers and a surprisingly excellent pizza. Erin, who insisted on a covered area this time to avoid a second bat-shower, eventually slumped into a sleep. We took her cue and went to bed.
Railey was one of my favorite places we went on the trip, and was certainly my favorite place we went in Thailand. It was (the beginning of) a nice break from big cities and suited my ideal pace just fine. I’d recommend anyone visiting the area to check it out. Off to Phi Phi Island tomorrow…
Sorry, no pictures here…didn’t bring our phones out on the boat…