Whenever we go on holiday, we want to stay away from the really touristy parts of the country. Don’t get me wrong, I like tourists and kids like tourists. Hubby, on the other hand, really liked it. She wants to do more real things like desert camping, active volcanic climbing or jungle hiking with each person carrying their own weapon (despite the fact that the girls have difficulty carrying. a shopping bag, never mind a backpack). Unfortunately for him, these ideas are more fantasy than reality. But as much as I love the tourist, I enjoy an adventure, being off the beaten path and experiencing the culture of a place.
Recently, we got cheap Air Asia flights to fly to Phuket, Thailand. We like Phuket, despite the warnings that it is full of tourists to Australia and Europe and this is not the real Thailand. But we know this is a great place to enjoy a lovely family holiday. We stayed at Kata Beach and Kamala Beach (both quieter and more family-friendly than the fiery Patong). We really enjoyed the beaches, food, travel, and accommodation.
We always break our holiday by going to different places and maybe a little off the beaten path. Even if the hubby didn’t think of anything from the beaten path unless it was literally off the road and involved trees or forests. We heard many things about Krabi, a spectacular landscape with wide expanses of cliffs descending from crystal clear seas and more touristy than Phuket. We booked a lovely villa just outside of Ao Nang which is a quiet haven.
Whenever you travel, the weather may be unmatched, especially if you are traveling during the monsoon. The weather in Phuket was nice but the day we left Krabi, it started to rain. We left Phuket with light rain but after a while, the rain was much stronger. It wasn’t long before we were hit by heavy rain with strong winds. Many parts of the road were flooded but it did not stop our driver. He looks like a fool determined to strike a storm. I don’t think there is anything to prevent her from taking us to our destination, dead or alive. I bid farewell to you, praying that we may escape the injury.
The winding roads, clear cliffs and heavy rain create a spectacular scenery. Hubby loved every minute of it. There is nothing better than driving at the highest speed of a rainstorm with spectacular views to make his day. Kids are too busy watching movies and playing games on the iPad, to notice the rain, not even the thunder or light. I, on the other hand, am convinced that we will not do it in Ao Nang.
Needless to say, we arrived at one of our destinations and even though it was raining all night, we didn’t care, as we stayed in a lovely villa.
The next morning the sun was shining for another perfect day in paradise. We spent the morning around Ao Nang, which is a small beautiful beach town. There are the usual tourist shops and many restaurants. What’s interesting about Ao Nang is that it’s a great destination to base yourself for exploring the local islands. Like Phuket, you can do much of anything in Krabi from scuba diving, snorkeling, white water rafting, elephant trekking, cooking classes etc. The biggest difference is the smaller ones, less people and many other countries.
When we were walking down the main street, having coffee (my impatient kids had to wait for hubby and I would eat our coffee in the morning because they were a .. thought it was a waste of time / money and b.They didn’t get anything to eat or drink because we were cheap), parked our weeds, had a pit stop for more food, we finally reached the pier. No queues lined the counter and we booked a longtail boat to take us to the local islands for a day. Long tail boats are old fishing boats with many features and are anchored by one or two local fishermen. To get on the boat, you have to walk to the sea around the waist and have your own. The best thing about a large family is that since there are six of us, we need to get our own boat with a few additional tourists that should fit our schedule. Since we have the most people on the boat, we have dictated the schedule. Well to be honest, I dictated the schedule. What a privilege to be a mother.
Many days we were off the island hanging on long tail boats. We only touch a few islands, Chicken Island, Hong Islands, Koh Poda, Koh Tap and Koh Mor, James Bond Island, Phi Phi Island, to give a few. You can easily spend your entire island on vacation. It’s cheap, it’s fun, and it’s peaceful. Great for snorkeling, kayaking, swimming and most of all relaxing. The drive to the open sea is amazing and the scenery is amazing. It is rated as one of the best experiences of our holiday.
Another reason for our trip was the elephant run. Women for some reason are desperate to ride an elephant. My oldest daughter said it was her dream to ride an elephant despite the sheer terror of the moment she actually got it. I think his dream quickly disappeared when he saw the size of an elephant. I’m not sure his reality involves a lot of big animals and not a careful animal being spread.
To book our trip, it was raining but when we arrived in the forest, it was pouring rain, without saying a word. We bought obligatory raincoats, which surprised my teenagers to wear. I thought we would all look at it despite the screams of panic as I took pictures. As tour operators debated whether to cancel the tour, the rain was slow and they decided to take us. Again this was our only family on the tour because we needed 3 elephants. As a small tour operator, they didn’t bring many people at a time.
Because of the heavy rain, the soil and mud were very strong. The elephants are damaged and slide a fair bit. The boys came together and took the lead. Self-consciously seeking adventure, they loved the experience as elephants slowly roamed the hill, through the forest, hanging outdoors and out in the bushes. Their elephant is a bit of a behavior they think is fun and they are not worried in the least. My youngest daughter, as fearless as her siblings with Hubby and could not hold back the smile on her face. Hubby also has a good time getting out of it, especially when elephants lose their footing. He thought it was nice because it was more challenging and dangerous than it was on dry land. She is pleased that the rain has given way to excitement and that this is not your usual traveling tour.
On the subject of travels, I have to say that Hubby hates organized travels and goes out of his way to avoid them unless he is not at all. But he also admitted that the only way we could ride an elephant was to travel. It would never have been possible to ride a wild elephant in the wild in our favor. He was just fine as the tour we chose was very cheap. I like to indulge my cheapskate hubby now and then by going for the cheapest deal. But it just shows, you don’t have to choose the most expensive tour to have the best time.
The two chickens in the family (my older sister and I), well in this case, are actually the only chicken (my daughter). I’m usually the scary cat but I don’t have time to control my fears. I was very relieved to calm my daughter down and assured her that we would not be crushed by the elephant. After about 15 minutes of heavy advice, some hysterics and deep breathing, he began to relax and enjoy himself, even tapping the elephant. She was very proud of herself afterwards and I was pleased to see that she overcame her fears and trusted this beautiful animal. For me, that was really part of the journey. She even mentioned how much she enjoyed riding the elephant and hiding the picture of her and the elephant on the bed table.
Ao Nang, Krabi has a lot to do. This is the perfect place to go and do your activities. It is less touristy, cheaper and more authentic than places like Phuket. Don’t be afraid to thrive in the country, you will reap the rewards and you will have a lot of laughs and talk about your children in the years to come.