8 Odd Things in Krabi, a Town India Hasn’t Really Discovered Yet

Indian tourists haven’t really discovered Krabi yet. I worry this article might change things.

Published24 Jan 2019, 10:45 AM IST
Travel
5 min read

1. Krabi Province in Thailand has a slogan of its own. It goes like this, “Krabi, the liveable city, friendly people.” Not very catchy.

2. The Vikings came to Thailand! Or so claims Chief Tour Guide on the popular 4-Island Krabi Boat Tour – the most convenient tourist activity for families and folks looking for adventure (but in a regulated environment and from a safe distance).

(I got on the Boat Tour because I had three short days to pack in as many islands as I could.)

As the Boat cruised off the coast of Krabi, weaving in and out of solitary, solemn and oddly square, limestone peaks jutting out of the ocean, it passed a cave with pre-historic paintings alongside which were these ghostly, sun-bleached shipwrecks drifting on the water.

Craggy karsts of Krabi.
Craggy karsts of Krabi.
(Photo Courtesy: Ambika Gupta)

There is no verifiable evidence to suggest that bloodthirsty Vikings actually came all the way to the sunny shores of Tham Phaya Nak Island from freezing Scandinavia, but that didn’t stop Chief Tour Guide from attaching a romantic backstory to the skeletal ships.

He turned to a family of four from Norway and informed them, “You people, you left this here,” pointing to the wrecked ‘Viking’ ships.

3. Limestone rocks erupt randomly on the serene Krabi coast. Like pustules. Except, they are not hideous and pus-filled. Rather, they are hairy – covered in thick forests – and crawling with rock climbers.

4. The monkeys at Monkey Bay are awfully clever chaps. They wrangle free, sugary drinks for putting up with tiresome tourists.

The monkeys at Monkey Bay are awfully clever chaps.
The monkeys at Monkey Bay are awfully clever chaps.
(Photo Courtesy: Ambika Gupta)

5. You know those ridiculously unoriginal tourist brochures that talk in phrases like ‘powder-white sands’ and ‘pristine beaches’ and you never buy any of their blarney because it’s so laughably unoriginal and unconvincing? That’s not true for tourist brochures of Krabi. Or, it wouldn’t be true if there were any such tourist brochures of Krabi. Krabi actually does have ‘powder white sands’ and ‘pristine beaches’ but the folks writing Krabi’s tourist brochures don’t write about them because nobody will buy it anyway.

I don’t expect you to buy this either, so I am sharing photographic evidence below.

The ‘pristine’, white sandy beaches.
The ‘pristine’, white sandy beaches.
(Photo Courtesy: Ambika Gupta)

6. Leonardo di Caprio’s movie, The Beach, was shot in Krabi (which makes me really curious to watch the movie now) – in Maya Bay, to be precise. Maya Bay looks like a Hollywood movie set. It’s stunning, but in an exceptionally exotic and extremely dramatic way. In my opinion, it would make for a more appropriate setting as the secret hideout of a James Bond movie villain.

Leonardo di Caprio’s movie, The Beach, was shot in Krabi.
Leonardo di Caprio’s movie, The Beach, was shot in Krabi.
(Photo Courtesy: Ambika Gupta)
The folks at the James Bond franchisee agree. In 1974, parts of Man with the Golden Gun were filmed in nearby Ko Tapu (now obviously better-known as James Bond Island).

7. So, you know the basic engineering behind snorkelling masks – there is a pipe attached, one end of which sticks out of the water and the other end you put in your mouth to draw air? I was vaguely familiar with the general theory but I never gave it too much thought until it I was actually on a snorkelling boat, right before it was time to jump in the water.

The boat docked in the middle of the ocean and out came a big cane basket full of black snorkelling masks. They came out at all the stops and were handed out at random.

Apparently, it’s perfectly acceptable and not at all icky, to shove in your mouth an air pipe that someone else has all too recently shoved into his or her mouth. Everyone around me seemed comfortable with this arrangement; they were clamping their teeth shut on air pipes and giving each other thumbs up through their mask goggles.

The Norway family had brought its own masks and was already in the water. I was left standing uncertainly in the middle of the boat looking squeamish, but I had no option and I really wanted to snorkel, so I gave it some thought and decided that the high salt content in the water should logically kill all germs, which would make this situation totally hygienic.

Indian tourists haven’t really discovered Krabi yet.
Indian tourists haven’t really discovered Krabi yet.
(Photo Courtesy: Ambika Gupta)

With that comforting thought I gritted my teeth and leapt into the water. I didn’t have the stomach to check my salt content-germ hypothesis when I got back on dry land. And I've made a mental note to add a snorkelling mask to my travel gear.

8. Vegetarian food consists of rice – once you remove the meat pieces. And fruit – it’s tasty, but it’s still fruit. And coffee – which is surprisingly delicious. And this, was my hearty lunch at the designated lunch stop – a godforsaken island in the middle of the ocean where there was no other animal to eat but fish – on the 4 Island Boat Tour.

The rest of the Tour group tucked into mounds of batter-fried fish, fish swimming in gravy, fish decorated on platters and what looked like fishy soup, which could have been vegetarian, but I can’t be sure because I didn’t try it.

Indian tourists haven’t really discovered Krabi yet. I worry this article might change things.

(Ambika is a former corporate lawyer who quit her cubicle to go see Places. So far, it has been quite a journey, often bumpy but always entertaining. Follow her on her journey as she travels around the world at http://ambikagoingplaces.com.)

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