April 9, 2015

Thailand 2015: Days Four and Five

The gorgeous hotel pool!

I'm so sad today (Thursday) is our last full day here in beautiful Krabi! :( We head back to Bangkok for one more night and then back to normal life we go. It's been an absolutely incredible couple of days here including Mom's birthday celebration, a hike up a mountain to see a temple, and discovering hidden beaches on a boat!
The elephant boxer-like shorts we picked up at the boardwalk market in Bangkok 

Mom decided to spend her birthday schlepping up 1200 steps carved into a steep mountain to see a temple. It was probably one of, if not, the biggest test of my physical endurance limits. As an asthmatic it was especially difficult to make it up these stairs and I seriously doubted I was going to make it to the top.
The tiger cave temple, located a hell of a lot closer to the ground than the temple on top of the hill, was a beautiful serene place with monks filtering in and out. I didn't take pictures out of respect for the monks, and the Buddha statues, but if you come here it's well-worth a step inside to read the mystical legends of the tiger.

Then our trek up the mountain began
Approximately where I started to doubt this was a good idea
The views as you're climbing are absolutely incredible....but let's be real this is a tough climb for everyone! I wish I had the presence of mind to video some of our climb but I was too busy concentrating on breathing and not collapsing 1,128 steps above the Earth. 
The views from the top are absolutely unprecedented and I highly recommend everyone at least attempt this climb if you come to Krabi but I have some tips and warnings I feel I should pass on to you first. 
Bring lots of water for the climb
Go slow and steady, there is no rush--take as much time as you need
Bring sweat towels, 'nuff said 
Take the hike around 4, 4:30 in the afternoon because that's when the sun is going down on the other side of the mountain....not only will you get better pictures but it'll be a lot less hot when you're trying to huff and puff your way up the giant hill 
Wear reasonable clothing: as hot and as sweaty as you'll be, this is still a temple and should be treated as such. Guys, if you take your shirt off please put it back on or bring a spare for when you reach the temple at the top and no short shorts on anyone out of respect, please and thank you 
Prepare yourself for the climb back down the mountain--it's 100x easier but those stairs are treacherous and the hike back down should be taken slowly and carefully
One final tip: beware of the monkeys. Down on the ground, after your climb, you'll want to be careful with your water/Gatorade bottles, hats, bags and basically anything that a monkey can steal because they can and they do! A monkey stole my Gatorade bottle and proceeded to drink it right in front of me! 
Just dealing with some #monkeybusiness
There's the monkey taunting me with my own Gatorade!

I'm really glad I got the whole monkey escapade on video so I can upload it here later for everyone to enjoy....I'm just grateful he didn't get away with my hat! I would've put up more of a fight for that one. 

After the temple hike and the monkeys and the tigers (oh my) and some very serious deep-cleansing showers, Mom and I headed off for her birthday dinner to one of the highest-rated restaurants in town. The name? Sandwich Me.
All the cooking for this exclusive, five-table-only, need-a-reservation restaurant is done on this little two burner outdoor stove by the excited, shy yet confident-in-the-kitchen cook Ollie
The prawn cakes are not to be missed...perfectly seasoned with a nice crunch
Literally mom's eighth papaya salad since we arrived in Krabi....she loved this one just as much as the others 
We were too excited about our food to stop and take proper pictures before hand so you get these snaps of our nearly licked-clean plates....
I had calamari cooked with black pepper and vegetables with a beautiful sauce finishing it off (there are two ways Ollie can prepare it, I chose this way over deep-frying)--heaven in a bite this dish has to be one of my all-time favorites....the pepper adds a nice spice to the food and the calamari is prepared so tenderly, not at all like the chewing gum sensation you experience other places
Mom had chicken curry that she swears was so good she nearly dumped the leftovers into her purse to take with us
All the magic is done here, in this tiny little kitchen
The famous Ollie himself! 

After one of the best dinners we've experienced here in Thailand, Mom and I returned to the hotel where a surprise was waiting for us! A couple of the staff members here at the hotel showed up at our door singing 'Happy Birthday' to Mom with a lovely treat of fudgey, chocolatey, cakey brownies that were pure heaven 
I really cannot say enough nice things about the staff here at Nakamanda--they go the extra mile to make sure their guests are comfortable, taken care of, and pampered. Their attentiveness really shows and it adds a whole 'nother layer of fantastic to this place. 

The next morning, we started off on another adventure! We'd arranged a boat ride to island-hop half the day away and promptly after breakfast we got started.
While other, bigger, resorts shuttle their guests around in huge motorboats, Mom and I were so glad we got to ride in this boat--more of a feeling for local flavor
The islands around here are absolutely breathtaking and our first stop was the most incredibly secluded spot, not one other human being around, and it looked as if it had been undiscovered by other tour groups and humans for years. 
The water was crystal-clear turquoise and the opportunities for snorkeling abounded! Schools of colorful fish would just swim right up and tap themselves against my mask before continuing on their was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I'll forever remember 
A playground of swings made of rope and driftwood!
I felt like Mom and I were the only two people left on Earth at some was pure heaven

After lounging and snorkeling and swinging away to my hearts desire, we moved on to the next island--Hong Island with an infamous lagoon. 
The Hong Island lagoon was filled with beautiful, pristine waters and brought a sense of calm over the day. Several other boats were there with their tourists (including those in the big motorboats) and some kayakers even showed up but still, I loved the ability to wade throughout the water and enjoy the beautiful scenery. 
At this point, Mom and I were a bit peckish so our wonderful boat driver and resident island navigator expertly diced us up some gorgeous fruit that was even more tasty than it looked! 
Our final stop of the day was a national park of sorts simply bursting with people. You can snorkel, kayak, lounge on the beach, collect shells....pretty much anything a beach bum could want!

Honestly these two days were full of so many experiences, highs and lows (literally) and will forever be stuck in my memory as unique, once in a lifetime trips that not everyone gets to take! Now it's our last full day here at Nakamanda and as we wind down and get ready for our spa treatments tonight, one last hurrah before the packing and grieving at the speed with which vacation time moves, I know Mom and I will be forever grateful that we are able to take these kinds of trips and have these experiences.


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