The four of us: my wife, Tanja; her daughter, Jasmine; my sister, Madeleine and I, ordered last-minute tickets to Krabi from Stockholm, three days before the due date.
We woke up at 8 am, march 3rd, left home at 12 after switching cars due to a flat tire. Roads were icy and the spare wheel on the car we should have taken had a summer tire that gave more or less no traction at all in these conditions. So we switched to our Golf, named Archimedes for the “hoo” sound one of the shock absorbers makes.
After a ride seriously slowed down by the road conditions, we arrived at Arlanda airport near Stockholm with an our to spare until check-in closed. The plane we got was a Boeing 767 with a personal entertainment system installed in the seatbacks. It’s a brilliant idea, when it works. On the way down, the poor attendants kept rushing around, reactivating the system every other time somebody finished watching a movie.
When we landed in Krabi, we were among the first ones to leave the plane, and were lucky enough to get our luggage almost immediately. We opted to take the airport shuttle bus to Ao Nang, which cost us 150 Thai bahts (THB) per person. The only drawback was having to wait for almost an hour while the bus filled up, with only a fan system to move the air – 34 degrees C (93 F). At that point I was already sticky and reeking after essentially 26 hours on the move.
Over all, the bus kept standard public transportation quality: nothing special about it, but it got the job done.
Soon, we saw the hills typical for the Krabi region: High, steep, sometimes with eroded, inverted slopes, and covered with jungle-like vegetation. As the bus drove through Krabi town, we also got a view of the mangrove island in the middle of the river that runs through the town.
First stop was at a tourist agency where some guys got off for further transfer to Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi.
We got off the bus a couple of hundred meters above the “corner” in Ao Nang, and after some scouting found a place that seemed to be partly under construction, called the Hill Village. For 700 BHT/room/night, we got AC, private toilet + shower and a really comfortable bed, with a thick mattress on a base made of brick. When it comes to comfort and location, I’d recommend this place.
While we were at it, we ordered transport to Koh Phangan, which cost us 550 THB, which included taxi to the bus stop, an air conditioned bus from Krabi to Surat Thani, a connection to the ferry, and of course the ferry ticket.
In the evening, after cooling off a bit, we found a street kitchen where 40 THB bought you fried basil with beef and steamed rice, and afterwards, we strolled down to the beach, mildly harrassed by salesmen – but nothing really bad. I noticed having a beard seems to make them think you’d been there for a while, and therefore less prone to bug you.
A guy down at the beach was selling “lucky balloons”; tubes of fabric, closed off in one end and with a fuel-drenched wicker in the other. Light the wicker, and it heats the air in the balloon, giving it lift enough to soar for miles. While we enjoyed a fruit shake, a couple who passed by bought one and let it fly, sea breeze making it float towards the mountain, where it hit a thermal which quickly lifted it above the peak.
On our way back to our room, we stopped by a supermarket to buy a bottle of Mekhong “rum” for “medicinal purposes” (one shot in the morning and one at night – we have never had stomach problems when travelling while doing this). At 200 THB it was about the cheapest strong liquor available here.
We came to our room, and in a short while we slept like babies.
Meanwhile, Jasmine and Madeleine checked out the night life in Ao Nang, and found a place that brags to be the biggest bar in town, in a street right across the street from Mc Donald’s. The fun thing is, practically every place they came to was the best yet, in their opinion.