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.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

2nd day Climbing at Crazy Horse 14/1/2550

We hired the same driver and climbed some steep climbs in the archway and aircon areas.

Ken is cleaning Anja's favorite climb at Crazy Horse.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Elephant Ride & Doi Inthanon National Park 13/1/2550

Since we had such an enjoyable experience with a hired driver, we had another driver take us to ride an elephant and tour Doi Inthanon. The elphant ride was fairly expensive (600B) but well worth it.

The summit of Doi Inthanon is the highest point in Thailand, and consists of several beautiful waterfalls (Nam Tok Mae Klang was our favorite).

Equally impressive was the Phras built by the Royal Thai Air Force to commemorate the King and Queen's 60th birthdays.

We stayed a second night in the Chiang Mei Holiday guest house (200B/night) because we were too tired to find a new place. Because lodging is cheap and you often get what you pay for, we recommend the mid-range guest houses. It's worth an extra $5/night for a cockroach and mildew free room.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Ram's Elephants 11/1/2550-12/1/2550

We arrived in Chiang Mei before dark and booked rooms at Galare Guesthouse (Rams = 500 B, ours = 1,150 B). It was a nice place with a restaurant overlooking the river and a 5 minute walk to Chiang Mei's daily night bazaar. We got food at a cute restaurant with amazing cocktails and then headed to the night bazaar in search of Ram's wood-carved elphants.

The night bazaar was crazy -- teeming with vendors hawking various handmade shirts, jewelry, trinkets and thai dishes. This bazaar seems to be the major draw for tourists to Chiang Mei, evidently even Thai tourists :).

We walked for about an hour through the main outdoor market area with no luck. There were carved elephants, but none were of suitable size for Ram. We'd given up and were making our final purchases, when a guy told us about a bamboo saxophone shop that was in the warehouse section of the bazaar. We were excited at the news of indoor shops because that's where Ram remembered seeing the elephants. Following the guy's directions, Ram was able to acquire his prize.

We had to separate for the elephant purchase, so that Ram could fetch a better price (pretending to be local). Ken and I left the market shortly after, planning to meet up with Ram again in Krabi (he was taking an early flight the next day). At about 5:30 am there was a knock on our door.

Ram had bought two elephants (or rhinos?) and each was packed into an approximately 1.5 x 1.5 x 3 foot crate. Upon seeing this and realizing Ram was travelling alone, the front desk manager arranged a super-sketch 'taxi'. The cab was black and pretty beaten up, with no sign of being part of a taxi service. The driver was even more sketch because he wouldn't talk to Ram while he loaded Ram's stuff into the car. Fortunately, Ram came and got us, and when he asked the driver if Ken and I could ride with him to the airport the driver freaked. He said no, quickly unloaded Ram's stuff and split. Sketchy!! Ken flagged a red truck (great way to travel around Chiang Mei), and we rode with Ram to the airport. Ram was able to store the goods at the Bangkok airport for 100B/day, and made it safely to the dream valley resort in Krabi.

After that adventurous morning, we hired a private driver for the day (1,200B) to take us climbing. Crazy horse is amazing!!!

Climbing in Thailand is everything I'd imagined it to be -- super steep, interestingly-featured, over-bolted limestone!! I love this creative, strenuous climbing :)! Also, the driver fee includes a thai food lunch service, so we've also been enjoying the best crag food along with the best climbing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Grand Palace & Reclining Buddha 10/1/2550

Eric recommended that if we can only see one thing in Bangkok it should be the Grand Palace (the Big C is second? :). The post cards certainly didn't do justice here, there are just too many amazing sights to capture on camera. Admission to the grand palace is free for thais (many go once a week to pray to the Buddha) and 250 THB for foreigners. We also saw the nearby reclining Buddha, which was very impressive but difficult to photograph. We made the mistake (again) of taking a nap upon returning to the hotel, and slept 3 hrs.

At about 10pm we began what turned out to be a very difficult task of booking a flight to Chiang Mei. All flights on the airlines we knew of were booked (Asia Air and Thai Air). This is where the lonely planet guide came in very handy, by providing info on several additional airlines. We ended up finding cheap flights $53/person on Nok (, and in the process of booking someone recommended one-two-go airlines ( He claims that you can pickup/purchase(?) tickets for this airline at 7-11's. Ram was wavering on heading to Railey (Krabi), but he decided to join us on the trip to Chiang Mei. Ram plans to stay only one evening in Chiang Mei to purchase a tek wood carved elephant from the night bizarre for about $700 US. Looking forward to this market and checking out Ram's elephant (that he's mentioned several times since his thailand trip last year).

After booking this flight, we headed to the Tiger bar for dinner and beer. Hard to believe you can get a full dinner and live music at 12:15 am! Bangkok would be a super cool place to live if it weren't for the pollution.

We leave in about 3 hrs for Chiang Mei (3:30 pm). Will miss the Tiger bar and Big C within walking distance.

New Hotel: Suda Palace 10/1/2550

Jenny and Eric left on the 9th, and we moved over to their hotel, the Suda Palace (, which was much more impressive and much cheaper than ours (Nice Palace). The Suda Palace offers rooms for only 700 THB ($20 US)/night that include A/C, a warm shower and free internet and breakfast. We highly recommend this Bangkok hotel because it is also within walking distance of the sky train, Big C, internet cafes, and a cool bar with outdoor seating and live bands (Tiger bar) is just around the corner.

The cheap and fun ways to travel around Bangkok are the sky train (15-40 THB) and canal boats (13 THB for express boat). Tuk tuks are ok because the fare is often negotiated before travel, but you're breathing in a lot of pollution. Renting a car is expensive and can be scary! Taxis are a pricey and inefficient way to travel. We have experienced/heard about the following problems with the taxi drivers: 1) you're taken to a high priced, lousy place that gives him comission, 2) he "doesn't know" your destination (and must drive around for awhile to find it), 3) he takes the long route, 4) "white man" tax. Even though our meter read 270 THB from the airport to the nice palace (20 min ride), we were charged 400 THB.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Jan. 9 Chinatown and Wat

We met up with Ram, Jenny, and Eric in the morning. First we had to return their rental car, then we took the subway to Chinatown and walked around for a while, then took these cool boats up the river an visited a Wat next to the river Wat Arun I think.