Sunday, May 1, 2011

Thailand Day Three: You Wan' Massaaage?

Our third day in Thailand began with checking out of the Andaman Beach Resort and heading back to the ferry terminal. We'd taken the ferry to Ko Phi Phi from Phuket, and now we were taking another ferry to Krabi. We'd gotten an open ticket that allowed us to catch the Krabi ferry whenever we felt like it, and the one departing at 9 AM seemed reasonable. As we approached the ferry terminal, I was struck by the confluence of old and new: sleek speedboats and big powerful ferries parked right alongside traditional wooden longboats.
Past and present collide

It was another glorious day, full of sunshine, and the ferry ride was pleasant. An adorable little Thai baby kept crawling over to me, then halting to stare and giggle. She was so sweet. Then she was displaced by some annoying Aussie kids whose parents were letting them run wild all over the boat, stepping on everyone's stuff and shouting. I willfully suppressed an urge to stick out a foot and trip them as they went thundering past for the twentieth time, but I joined several other disgruntled passengers in passive aggressively glaring at the negligent parents. Other than the annoying boys, the ride was nice, and losing myself in a good book (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) helped me to ignore the less pleasant parts.
People relaxing on the ferry

When we arrived in Krabi we were pretty hungry but my stomach troubles had continued. I wasn't really sick, but every time I ate I immediately wished I hadn't. I bought a couple of bananas for us as Bryan arranged a taxi to Ao Nang, a location we'd settled on during our ferry ride (later we found out we could've taken a ferry directly there. Oh well). The taxi ride only took about 20 minutes. We got out of the taxi along the beach, and walked up and down, looking for a place to stay. We stopped in a couple of places, aiming for somewhere pretty nice since we'd be staying two nights and probably spending some time relaxing at the hotel. We settled on Ao Nang Villa Resort, partly because they offered us a promotional price for no apparent reason (perhaps because we were looking a little destitute, with our dusty pack and wrinkly clothes), partly because of their location so close to the beach, and partly because they had a swimming pool with a swim-up bar and the idea of sipping tropical drinks in the pool was endlessly appealing to me. After the brown smears at the ummer and the millipede under my pillow in Ko Phi Phi, we were thrilled to find our room spotlessly clean and comfortable. Hooray! We'd both sleep well that night.
Hooray! Clean room!
Our balcony, swim-up bar in the background

After taking a few minutes to fully appreciate the wonder of a sterile hotel room, we set off to get some lunch. We'd seen a Subway on our way in and we made a beeline for it, eager for familiar food that might sit well with my stomach. It tasted great and I felt fine afterward, so that was nice. And it was probably the most scenic Subway I've ever dined in.
Subway with a view

On our way back to our place we bought a Frisbee to play with on the beach. We hadn't seen many people snorkeling and suspected it must not be too great along the beach or others would be doing it. After changing into our swimsuits we gave snorkeling a shot and it took about 2 seconds to figure out that we were right- visibility was awful. We played Frisbee for awhile instead, and I kept Bryan swimming every possible direction to retrieve my errant throws. I am atrocious at Frisbee. Put a Frisbee in my hand and my motor skills regress back to about age two. I don't understand it. We had fun anyway for awhile, until I stepped on something squishy, screamed my head off, and ran out of the water. I'm still convinced I murdered a sea cucumber with my foot. Gross. And unnervingly reminiscent of the time I punched a jellyfish in the face. I must be harboring some unconscious ill will toward Thai marine life.

After my freakout, Bryan wisely suggested taking a break from the water for awhile. We explored the little altar nearby, and were encouraged by a sign warning about the dangers of feeding monkeys. We'd have to keep an eye out for them!
Danger! Do not feed monkeys for your own safety!

We found a rickety wooden path next to the beach, leading up over some rocks, and decided to follow it awhile. A sign about 20 feet in informed us that this was the "Monkey Trail." Ooooooo. Sounds good. We walked along and were rewarded with a big fat gecko sighting. It was a Tokay gecko, a little smaller than the one we'd seen in Cambodia, but pretty exciting nonetheless.
Fat gecko

We climbed up and up partially rotted stairs. Our higher vantage point offered us stellar views of the limestone cliffs out in the water.
View from Monkey Trail

From the highest point on the trail we could see where it was leading. I think the destination was Ton Sai Bay, another beach. We decided not to go all the way since there were lots more stairs and the beach at Ton Sai looked pretty similar to the one we'd just come from. We turned around and headed back toward Ao Nang Beach.
Ton Sai Bay

Having worked up a sweat climbing all those stairs, I decided it was time for a tropical drink in the hotel pool. We stopped along the way to befriend a dog, who hung out with us for a while, digging vigorously in the sand, obviously hoping to catch something tasty for a snack.
Enthusiastic beach dog

We stopped a couple more times, once for me to admire a boat so long abandoned that it was disintegrating into its surroundings, and again to watch a huge, weird, green something (caterpillar? grub?) in action.
Abandoned boat
Sphinx caterpillar, I think? Note the size comparison with Bryan's feet

Back at the hotel, I was happy to jump into the pool and float around, cooling off after our hot walk. Bryan and I had fun ordering tropical drinks from the pool bar (a Singapore sling and a mai tai served in a hollowed-out pineapple. Yum!). It was nice and mellow, sipping our refreshing drinks and floating around the pool. As it started to get dark, we decided to head back to our room to get dry for the first time all day. By the time I was dried off and changed, Bryan was lying groggily on the bed, clearly tuckered out from all the sun. He decided to hang out and relax while I went out to get a massage.
Poolside banana tree
The pool

In Thailand, particularly in tourist areas, as you walk along you inevitably hear the constant refrain, in the exact same slow drawl, "Hellooooo. You wan' massaaaaaaaaaaaaage?" from hordes of women lining the street, attempting to lure you into their massage parlors. Their constant questioning can be annoying but the massages are rock-bottom cheap (about $7 USD for a full hour), so I decided  to go for it. I decided to get a traditional Thai massage, which I'd heard a lot about but never experienced. The masseuse looked at me skeptically and said "Are you sure?" before taking me inside the thatched-roof pavilion, leading me to wonder what on earth I was getting myself into.

As it turned out, getting a Thai massage is a little like paying someone $7 to punch you in the face. No, I'm kidding, it was good, but it did have those painful-but-kind-of-good moments. Like when the little masseuse climbed onto my butt, pulled my arms behind my back and tugged until both shoulder joints popped. Or when she cracked all ten of my toes one-by-one. Or when she crawled up my legs, then slowly and methodically ground her knees into the small of my back. But a lot of it was more like a normal massage rather than a schoolyard beating. Mostly it was just the soothing smell of lavender oil, the crashing of the waves, the setting sun, and the relaxing kneading of the masseuse's experienced hands.

On the way back from my massage, I was excited to spot a little toad hopping around, and made quite a spectacle of myself by stopping in the middle of the road to take photos.

Back in the hotel room, I dragged Bryan out of his half-asleep stupor to go get some food. We strolled up and down Ao Nang's main drag while before settling on a place called Red Chilies, which was pretty busy already, usually a good sign. We waited quite a while for our food (pretty standard in Thailand, where it seems that most things are made fresh when you order). When it came it was well worth the time. It was SO GOOD! Bryan had green coconut curry and I had potato curry with rice. Mine was delicious but so spicy that I was literally crying and ordering another beer when I was halfway through. You know a curry is good when it's so spicy that tears are streaming down your face but so delicious that you have to finish it. The sunburned, bald expats a table over were snickering at me behind their glasses of Chang, but I didn't care.
The only remedy for a flaming hot curry

The walk back to the hotel was pleasant once my mouth cooled off. We were serenaded by live music drifting out of a few of the bars, and pretty lights lit the walkway. And we saw these mating geckos, big excitement to us wildlife nerds.
Invasion of house gecko privacy

We stopped at 7-11 for bottled water, and I spent some time ogling the things we aren't allowed to have in Singapore.
GUM! Forbidden fruit.

Back at the hotel we went to sleep pretty early, tired from all the sunshine, and hoping to rest well for the next day's planned adventure.


  1. That sounds very similar to the first massage I had in Thailand (and only one I've ever had, period), haha.

    I love the pics!

  2. Bahaha Mark I love when you sneaked out to go get a massage. You crack me up.

    By the way, I heard about your recent escapades in Tennessee! Hilaaaaaaaarious!