Monday, February 5, 2007

Back to La La Land 2/5/07 - PLEASE COMMENT

If you followed our blog while we were over there PLEASE POST A COMMENT ON THIS ENTRY.

We are home back in LA and trying to readjust our sleep schedules. We plan to try to round out the blog and post more pictures of the days we were not able to access the pictures for in Thailand. Be sure to check the out the pictures from the Grand Palace day in Bangkok.

We've estimated that the 29-day trip cost about $5,000 for the two of us combined.

Flights $2200
Lodging $650
Tours $500
Climbing Transportation $150
Food $800
Beverages $100
Purchases $600

If you followed our blog while we were over there PLEASE POST A COMMENT ON THIS ENTRY. We'd love to see what family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers followed along on our blog. We had an amazing time and we had originally only started the blog to keep Ken's grandma and mom and Anja's dad updated but it was great to come back and hear how our friends enjoyed living vicariously through our blog. So please post a comment because we'd like you all to be a part of our trip blog.

For note we are thinking of returning next year (March maybe?) for a two week trip to Tonsai. Anyone interested would be welcome to join us to climb or just relax on the beach.

Ken and Anja

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Chatuchak Market and Flight Home

Our last day was crazy long. We got up at 5 pm LA time (8 am Bangkok time) and shopped at the Bangkok Chatuchak Market.

Anja was on the hunt for beads. Thus far she had struck out finding any cheap real stone beads. We looked in Chiang Mai but all the prices were close to the states. The guy at Railey who taught her a necklace pattern said this was the spot. Anja spent close to $100 on beads, but the prices were about 50% less than eBay.

The market was not as touristy as the Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai, but we did see the Thailand Tourist Police there. We asked an officer if we could take a picture, and she said sure. Then she said the young guys behind her were on a class trip to the market, and she asked if they could take a picture with us.

At 2 am LA time (5 pm Bangkok time) we boarded the plane for the first leg of our trip home. Luckily the return trip was a bit faster with a 3.5 hour flight and a 12 hr flight (instead of 3.5 and 16.5). Our flight back went smoothly except that Ken suffered a bit of food poisoning. We landed at 6 pm and Paul Lopez picked us up from the airport. After a visit to In n Out we got home at 9 pm.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Last day of climbing

Our last day at Tonsai we climbed the ultra classic Groove Tube 6a.

The guidebook said the second pitch was good but rarely done due to the extremely popular first pitch. Anja was all over this because she was starting to love the views that multipitch climbs offered.

Given how polished the second pitch was it apparently got some traffic. Below you can see an old restaurant which was probably wrecked by the Tsunami.

After climbing we flew back to Bangkok and met up with Rosa and Deborah at the Tiger Bar around the corner from Suda Palace.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Humanality 2/2/07

After our rest day we got on a Tonsai classic 5 pitch climb called Humanality. It climbs right above the Freedom Bar on the beach, so it puts on a good show. The classic pitch is pitch 4 (6b+). As you climb up large holds on a steep face they suddenly disappear except for two large holds about 10 feet out of reach. As you look around for what to do next you realize a large stalactite is just within reach behind you. When you lean out to reach it you are left staring 300 ft down into the bar!

You do a few delicate and spooky moves and find yourself comfortably on the stalactite but then you have to move back on the face so you move up and around on the stalactite and reach back out for those large holds which were formerly 10 feet away. After that you have another great pitch of 6b and then rappel down straight into the bar.

In a classic Tonsai style my friend Rudy arrived while we were on the climb. I knew he was coming to Tonsai but not exactly what day and he knew we were in Dream Valley 405 but that was it. He arrived, got a room, left a note for us at Dream Valley and headed to the Freedom Bar with some people he had meet on the way to Tonsai. They had just been asking him "How are you going to find your friend?" "This place can't be that big, I'm sure I'll come across them" "Hey I think I know that guy rappelling into the bar!"

Before we called it a day Anja jumped on the classic 6c Vikings in Heat. A steep pumpy climb which she struggled through but managed to onsite.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Ao Nang Restday 1/2/2550

We are taking a rest day and saw Deborah and Rosa off to the airport riding the longtail with them over to Ao Nang. We stopped by the Elephant pool. Later we plan to crash the pool bar at a local resort.

A cat with a tip jar in an Ao Nang convinence store. The woman explained that the she-cat was expecting. Though from the scrawny cats we've seen, 1B would go a long way!

Then Deborah climbed a coconut tree and picked some coconuts (don't know if this is legal?) egged on by a thai lady sitting nearby. She seemed more excited than we were, and after watching our feeble attempts at opening them, the woman sent a man for a knife. She deftly hacked away to harvest the coconutty goodness. Love the look the lady is giving Deborah.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Phi Phi Don Climbing Day

We climbed on Phi Phi Don today on "Phi Phi Don's" Tonsai Wall

Phi Phi Don

The climb was great! 300+ feet of fun climbing with glue-in bolts. The grade seemed a little soft compared with back at Tonsai and Railey but the views were amazing.

At 3:30 we caught the ferry back to Railey which dropped us on a longtail boat for a ride back to Tonsai.

Thaiwand wall in the background

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ko Phi Phi Don and Ko Phi Phi Lei 30/1/2550

We took a 1.5 hour ferry ride to Ko Phi Phi Don for 370 Baht ($10) each. We found a room for 800 baht and setup a snorkel trip to Phi Phi Lei. Most people tour in groups for about 500-1000B, but we enjoyed the 1500B splurge on a private longtail boat. It was great seeing beaches and lagoons on the Phi Phi islands and our chauffeur provided a free extra hour.

Our first snorkling location had a lot of wave but better coral than the second spot.

We snorkeled at the beach where the movie "The Beach" was filmed. It was a really amazing spot and the cliffs of Phi Phi Lei are incredible!

The last stop was "Monkey Beach". There was a loud shrieking noise as we approached, and our driver said "monkey, monkey!!". "Really? That awful noise is a monkey?" I asked. As we got closer, we realized it was actually the sound of a young adolescent boy being chased by a monkey. I thought that was pretty funny -- until they chased after me! :)

The monkey's like to hangout with you as long as you don't mind sharing your food.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Wee's Present Wall

We went climbing on Wee's Present wall. Fun climbs we did 3-6a, 1-6a+, and 2-6b. Rosa also climbed for the first time ever and enjoyed it enough to do all three 6a climbs.

It must be a "present" wall because as we were leaving in the dark Anja found a necklace in the dirt. Only a couple of stones were sticking out of the dirt but she saw it and pulled out and really long necklace.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Deep Water Soloing

We went deep water soloing on a tour from Wee's climbing shop. It was really fun because the group was really chill. We had 16 people on an extra large longtail and a kayak for getting on climbs.

The first spot we went was a little too hard and no one could get on the good problems but the boulder was fun to play on.

Then we went to Ko Poda island and climbed at spot the Paladium.

It was really cool with a good traverse and short problems and one really long roof route a guy in the group finished with a 55 ft drop at the end into the ocean.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Tonsai climbing

We've been climbing on Tonsai and Railey for over a week now it has been great. We've climbed at the Nest, Diamond Cave, 1-2-3 wall, Mauy Thai Wall, Thaiwand Wall, Escher World, Tyroleen Wall, Tonsai Wall, Phra-Nang Beach, and Defile Wall.

Thaiwand wall was our favorite by far with the views of the bay were amazing. We started the day on Escher Wall which is kind of the south face of Thaiwand Wall. After we finished at Escher we found our way into a large cave as we scrambled up the cave we found a few ladders and climbed up into the cave more now needing headlamp. Next thing we knew we saw light and popped out 70 feet up the side of the face of Thaiwand Wall. One rap later we were on the ground and blasting off on lead for the first pitch of Lord of the Thais. (pictures later)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ao Nang 24/1/2550

Today we went with Ram, Deborah, and Rosa to Ao Nang to see them off. It is sad to see Ram go, but we are already discussing Thailand plans for next year! Deborah and Rosa are visiting a nearby party island, and will return on Sunday night.

We have a little over a week left, and are considering a trip to Ko Phi Phi, deep water soloing, renting a kayak to access island climbing areas, and possibly the James Bond island/cave tour. Unfortunately, internet is about 6 times more expensive on Tonsai than it was in Chiang Mai, so this post (from Ao Nang) might be the last for a few days.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Climbing 23 January 2550 - Phra Nang Bay

The 23rd was Ram's last day of climbing in Thailand, and he got on some good, hard, routes. Phra Nang bay in particular was a beautiful spot. There were a few tourists, but no line for climbs, and an interesting change from the climber beach.

Ram leading a 7c

Anja on a 6c

We also climbed nearby "Money Maker" story is someone used to keep a rope set on it and charge for belays to the tourists and Ken lead a 6a+ on the right of Defile Wall. We had dinner at a Thai-Indian restaurant in Railey East, and then the five of us walked the 30-40 minutes back to Tonsai in the dark sharing a headlamp (Ken's of course :). It was a bit tricky navigating the sharp coral and rocks, but the beach walk seemed safer than the jungle path at night which could introduce some dangerous critters (snakes, scorpions, and monkeys).

Monday, January 22, 2007

Climbing and Coconuts

Sunday-Tuesday (23/1) we spent climbing/exploring the various crags in and around Tonsai.

Ram leading on Tidalwave with the Freedom Bar of Tonsai beach in the background.

Anja enjoying her favorite Thai food Coconuts.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Tonsai, Railey 20-23/1/2550

We met up with Ram and Deborah on Saturday (20/1) at the Krabi airport. They were there to pick up their friend Rosa, who coincidentally was on our flight! We took taxis to Ao Nang, which is the port city where we could catch a short (30 min or so) longtail boat ride to Tonsai (50B).

The Tonsai/Railey area is even more amazing than the photos, and the Tonsai area in particular is well adapted to the climber lifestyle. Cheap restaurants and (somewhat cheap) bars line the beach and present spectacular views of the limestone cliffs, climbers, and Tonsai bay. A short walk from Tonsai is Railey west, the classier resort/tourist area, with several swimming pool options to cool off in the afternoon heat.

The 21st-23rd we spent climbing/exploring the various crags in and around Tonsai. Phra Nang bay in particular was a beautiful spot. There were a few tourists, but no line for climbs, and an interesting change from the climber beach.

Ram taught me a few key phrases to know in thai, such as "I'd like a big, fat coconut please".

Friday, January 19, 2007

Crazy Horse Day 3

On the way to the crag we stopped off at a nearby Buddist Cave.

Then we hit the crag and we got on some steep climbs

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cave Lodge

Getting to the Cave Lodge felt a little crazy; renting a car, driving in Thailand, a drive which was described as so dangerous you get a certificate if you make it without incident, and 4 hours of driving at that. Well, it was easy renting the car, the drive was awesome no worse than driving to Yosemite and the trip was well worth it.

We stayed at the Cave Lodge for 3 nights. It overlooked the Nam Lang River and was conveniently less than a kilometer from the entrance to Tham Lod.

It has been the highlight of our accommodations so far. The bungalow we rented was 200 baht a night.

Plus the gathering area alone was almost worth the trip. It felt like camp, only tropical island style, with a large fire on the main deck, hammock, swing and restaurant bar, sheltered by a thatch roof. At night we had a fire in the center deck, nothing like lighting a match in a tinder box. Cold showers and internet isolation seemed like a small price to pay. :)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Cave Lodge Day 2

We got a tour with a guide named Wat from the Cave Lodge and were joined by Papken who we met the night before. This tour started with a Jungle Trek:

included visiting Fossil Cave:

Waterfall Cave which (after crawling for about 10 feet) we discovered was blocked by a log jam

Coffin Cave and Christmans Cave.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Caves near Soppong (Northern Thailand) 16/1/2550

Tham Lod was the largest cave that we toured, and it was also one of the most popular caves to tour in Thailand (costing 450B/person). This cave is also unique in that the Lang river flows through it (it's also referred to as "Tham Naam Lod", where naam = water), and it is toured via bamboo rafts. The rafts stop for tourists to walk through three major chambers branching from the main tunnel.

Tham ("Cave") Long Yaow, guided by K.T. from the Karen tribe.