Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.
– Anatole France
Longtail Boat Ride from Ao Nang to Railay Beach
Three years after my first amazing trip to Krabi, Thailand I found myself back on a longtail boat cruising the Andaman Sea with my girlfriend Betina. It had been only 6 months since we met and I knew how badly she wanted to visit Thailand since our first meeting.
We were on a natural high since we left Fort Lauderdale airport a few days before and we had already spent several days exploring Bangkok, so we were ready for some island fun time!
We took a short flight from Bangkok to Ao Nang on Air Asia. The flight was comfortable, on time, and very clean and pleasant. It seemed to be a newer plane as well. I had heard so many negative things about Air Asia, but never experienced anything bad and this time was even better than the last time I flew with them.
I did have a terrible experience with Tiger Air a few years back flying from Phuket to Bali, but it was related to over charges for luggage. It literally cost me more to check my luggage than it was for the airline ticket!! Wth?! I will never will fly with them again if I can help it.
Bangkok Airways would be my most recommended for a little extra money when traveling long distances in Thailand. I had a great experience with them from Sukhothai to Phuket.
As for the longtail boat ride… there is something so exhilarating about racing across the sea in a small wooden boat that is most likely taking on water. You’re in a beautiful place half way around the world from your home. The enormous limestone rock formations sticking out of the sea in random spots all around you as far as you can see, makes it feel like you are on another planet.
I’ll never forget the first time I experienced this journey, and it was just as exciting for me to share it with someone new. I hope to share it with my friends and family too one day. If you are a friend or family and you’re interested, leave me a comment, and we will figure out how to make it happen. Seriously.
Most of the rock formations are uninhabited but some are small islands that have become part of the tourism economy and sightseeing tours are available from a number of small agencies around East and West Railay for a very reasonable price.
Railay beach is one of my favorite little getaways that I’ve ever visited and it’s consistently changing, which is inevitable, because tourism is growing more and more every day. Places that were once hidden gems and difficult to access are becoming more and popular.
I feel that there are an increasing number of new travelers coming from the United States. Some of these new U.S. travelers are escaping the 9 to 5 to find themselves and their purpose or some are just wanting to take their 2 week vacation a little further than the family trip to Orlando or Bahamas cruise.
(Eh, lets be honest, unfortunately, most U.S. citizens if they are lucky enough to get a 2 week vacation from their corporate job, may only use 1 week at a time, twice a year.)
In any case, those who are willing to move out of there comfort zone are incidentally finding that there is a vast and beautiful world out there that isn’t as scary as the news media makes it out to be.
Rock Climbing East Railay Beach with Dropship Lifestyle
Alright, so this post is long overdue. I am way behind on writing about some of these experiences, but I’ve decided, I will write them as I find the time. I plan to pick up the pace and consistency though, so stay with me.
These pics were taken from the Dropship Lifestyle Retreat I attended in October of 2015. Yeah, old news. It was held in Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand at the Krabi Resort.
During this retreat we spent several hours in the morning listening to guest speakers give talks on various topics related to E-Commerce, Entrepreneurship, and being a “Digital Nomad”.
If you are able to generate a sustainable income and run a viable business using mainly your laptop, phone and internet connection, without being tethered to an office cubicle; then you might consider yourself a “Digital Nomad”. That seems to be the buzzword among many long-term travelers or ex-patriates. Many don’t like it, but it doesn’t bother me.
I like to use the term location independent, and that is what I am striving to be. I am still in the process of building that foundation through multiple streams of income. If you are interested in hearing more about that, let me know in the comments below.
The Dropship Lifestyle Retreat is a yearly event put on by Anton Kraly only for student members of the online course called the Dropship Lifestyle. I have been a member since August of 2014 and have learned so much in regards to E-commerce through this course. I know there are many online courses out there but I really believe this is a genuine course with so much valuable content and since I am a lifetime member, I always have access to new content as they add more and more features.
A yearly retreat is a great perk for being a part of this community and it is a great opportunity to meet other online entrepreneurs who have a similar mindset about work, life, balance. I really enjoyed hearing all of the backstories and how we all ended up there together in Thailand and talking about how we can improve our online businesses. We even spent one morning split up into small mastermind groups so we could offer advice to each other on issues we were facing with our online businesses.
Every afternoon, the daily schedule for the retreat included a day trip that you had the option to participate in. This was the first day of the retreat and our first day trip was a 20-30 min. boat ride to Railay. A place that I’ve always held dear to my heart, since my first trip to Thailand in 2012.
Our day trip options were to go rock-climbing on East Railay Beach, play volleyball on West Railay Beach or go straight to Phra Nang Beach to relax and swim. Betina and I decided to go rock climbing, so a huge group of us headed across West Railay to the east side where the rock-climbing trainers were waiting for us.
I didn’t end up rock climbing myself, because I had strained my wrist a few days before, and kind of forgot about it until I had to lift some heavy luggage. I took some photos of others in our group, and watched Betina complete her first climb like a champ!
I was very impressed by how well she did and how high she went even though it was the beginner climb, she was a natural 🙂
Path to Phra Nang Cave Beach
After the rock climbing I got Betina and convinced her we had enough time to see Phra Nang beach and possibly the hidden cave. We had a limited time before we had to catch our longtail boat back to Ao Nang. Three years prior I had spent several days in Railay so, there were a few spots I wanted to show her because I wasn’t sure we would have time to return and really enjoy more of this beautiful island like peninsula.
We took the path I like to call Monkey Walk because of all the wild monkeys walking around the base of the tall rock formations. The path leads to Phra Nang beach another beautiful and well photographed spot for many Thailand travel brochures.
I forgot to mention that Railay Beach is only accessible by boat because access is blocked by those enormous limestone cliff rock formations.
Here is an aerial view from Google.
Phra Nang (Princess) Cave
Princess Cave is known for it’s sacred cave filled with hundreds of phallic structures carved out of wood and other natural materials. At first, it may seem to be quite comical, and maybe a little embarrassing especially for many westerners.
However, the location apparently holds some spiritual significance based on the legends surrounding the cave. From what I could find online the first legend is about an Indian Princess who was killed in a shipwreck offshore and her ghost came to inhabit the cave. Another story explains how Phra Nang was the wife of a local fisherman, who waited inside the cave for him to return for many years until her death.
What I had heard the first time I visited was simply that the cave resembled a woman’s reproductive organ and thus made it a sacred location representing fertility. Now, these wooden phalluses known as “lingams” are representative of the Hindu deity Shiva. Locals who place these lingams inside this cave may actually do so as part of a ritual in order to increase fertility and or virility for themselves. In any case, as funny or strange as it may seem to an outsider, it is still considered a sacred place by locals, so please be respectful.
Secret Cave on Phra Nang Beach
After we took some pics and videos around the Jurassic like stone structures south of the cave, I took Betina on a walk further down the beach, to a somewhat secret or lesser known cave, which does actually lead all the way to West Railay Beach. We didn’t have the time or appropriate gear for that trek, but we were able to climb up to a giant cave opening that Tyson and I found a few years earlier.
Also, we didn’t have much time because we still had to catch a reserved longtail boat back to Ao Nang with the rest of the Dropship Lifestyle group. Luckily we didn’t have to go all the way back to West Railay to catch a boat because they set one up right there on the coast of Phra Nang. I estimated an hour would be enough to get up there to the viewpoint and back down to the beach in time to catch the longtail boat.
In the picture below, if you were to follow the sand straight down until the end of the beach and then look to the right you will find an opening in the trees that will lead you to the cave and the viewpoint overlooking Phra Nang Beach. I would recommend bringing sneakers or something a little more than flip-flops, although you can climb it barefoot, it won’t be as comfortable.
Betina, was once again, in the midst of a picture taking frenzy and I had to prod her along the beach to show her the viewpoint from the cave entrance. After some more prodding, and meandering through the jungle we finally made our way up to the viewpoint. I could tell by the look on her face that it was worth the extra hiking and exploring to find the caves, take a few pics and get back to the boat with just a few minutes to spare.