Krabi Town (Jan 2-5): Monkey Attacks and Tropical Storms

My trip back to Krabi was pretty simple – my hostel owner booked a shared taxi for me, which cost 300 baht ($13AUD). Once I arrived, it was about 5:30pm. The hostel I stayed at was called Pak-Up hostel, and it used to be a primary school before it became a hostel so they stuck to the school theme, which was kind of neat.

I stayed in a 10-person female dorm for 300 baht per night ($13.58), and the hostel offered a free barbecue every night of your stay (which was just two skewers with chicken and vegetables, so I only took advantage of it once cause we ended up having to stand in line for over a half hour to get them). I showered and got all of my stuff organised, and then I was starving since I didn’t really eat a proper lunch. I went to a restaurant nearby called Chalita, which served both Thai and western food. My stomach still felt a bit off so I decided to just get a spicy chicken burger with fries. After dinner, I walked around one of the night markets before heading back to the hostel and going to bed.

In my last blog, I forgot to mention that when I went for lunch with Karin in Koh Lanta, she had found a news article about a tropical storm heading towards southern Thailand. She was worried that she should leave Koh Lanta because it was supposed to get worse by Friday and Saturday. On Thursday morning in Krabi, I got up earlier because I wanted to catch the ferry to Railay Beach, which is one of the really nice beaches in the Krabi area. The hostel said that as long as I show up a half hour early to book, I’d be okay. The ferry I wanted to catch would be at 10 so I went down at about 8:30, booked my ticket, and went to a cafe nearby for breakfast. I decided to just get chicken fried rice with a latte at a place called Coconuts Cafe, and then I went back to the hostel at 9:30 to catch my ferry.

However, once I got there, the hostel workers said that the government wasn’t letting any boats leave the pier so I wouldn’t be able to go to Railay Beach.

All of the other tours that I would have wanted to take would have already done their pick-ups between 9 and 9:20, so I couldn’t even choose one of those as another option. Krabi Town doesn’t really have much to do for tourists – most of the stuff to see is outside of the city so you either need to pay for public transportation, or rent a motorbike. I decided I might as well check out the Tiger Cave Temple, so I asked the hostel workers how I could get there. They said I’d have to take a taxi for 500 baht, which seemed a bit steep. After doing some research online, I realised I could just catch a songthaew, which is basically just a truck.

For me to get to Tiger Cave Temple, it would only cost 50 baht each way ($2.18)!! I don’t know why the hostel workers didn’t bother telling me this information because it was a much cheaper alternative, at 10% of the price. However, now I think it’s because they have a taxi that belongs to the hostel so they’re able to make more money this way. I walked about five minutes to where all of the songthaews were parked, found a red one that specifically said Tiger Cave on it, paid the driver 50 baht, and got in the back of the truck with two other locals. It was a pretty cool way of being able to see the city, as the entire back is open. I got to the entrance at about 10:30am and by that time, it was already so hot!

In order to get up to the temple, you had to climb 1260 stairs while passing multiple hungry and agressive monkeys. I had brought some snacks cause I figured I would get hungry, but I could fit them into my day bag, so my only other option was to tie the plastic bag of snacks onto the back of my backpack. I started the trek up to the temple and I’m not even kidding that after 100 steps, my legs were already hurting. These steps all had different sizes, so some would only be a few inches high, while others would be over a foot. It definitely tired me out a lot faster, and the heat didn’t help!

After about 250-300 steps, I finally ran into my first group of monkeys. There were plastic bottles and food wrappers everywhere, and I was trying to face the monkeys at all times in hopes that they wouldn’t notice the plastic bag on my back. I suddenly felt a tug on the water bottle under my arm, and pulled it back from the greedy monkey trying to take it. It was then that a smaller monkey noticed the plastic bag on my back so it jumped on my bag and was hanging off of it. Luckily, it couldn’t figure out how to open the bag so eventually it jumped off and I quickly ran up the stairs to escape the rest of the group.

I continued slowly making my way up the stairs while taking multiple breaks along the way. I kept getting “Good lucks” from the people coming back down, and they’d point to my bag of treats. I’d reply that I’ve already been jumped on and it was fine. However, I definitely wasn’t prepared for what was to come… I’ve found that on many stair climbs that I’ve done, the monkeys get more and more aggressive as you make your way to the top. And these ones got much larger. A few hundred steps later, I ran into my second group of monkeys. They noticed my plastic bag within a matter of seconds, and before I knew it, two large monkeys jumped on my back, ripped open the plastic bag and all of the snacks inside it, and had a feast of food at my feet. Everyone around me was shocked, including myself. I should have taken a picture but I think I was more stunned than anything, and wanted to get myself as far away from those monkeys as possible. I FINALLY made it to the top after about 45 minutes and I looked and felt like a hot, sweaty mess. When I did the CN Tower climb a few years ago, it was 500 steps higher, I did it almost ten minutes faster, and I felt like I was going to die THEN. However at least during that time, the steps were all the same height and I was in a cool stairwell. This time felt way worse! I sat down for quite awhile to try to cool myself down and then I finally got up to enjoy the views. It was a pretty overcast day, so I’m assuming it would have been even more spectacular with a blue sky, but at least it wasn’t foggy so I was still able to see everything around. At the top, I had to make sure my knees and shoulders were covered, so I covered up with a sarong and a cardigan (which was the last thing I wanted to do in the state that I was in). However, the climb was definitely worth it and the views were still pretty nice!

I stayed at the top for quite awhile and then made my way back down. The way back was obviously a lot easier, so I just kept it at a steady pace, but I also had to be careful with each step as it was still a pretty sharp decline. With about 100 steps to go, my shoe got untied so I stopped to lift up my foot and it suddenly started shaking uncontrollably – I couldn’t stop it! My calves were killing me and my thighs felt like jelly so when I got to the bottom, I got a cool taro drink and sat down for as long as I possibly could. My calves didn’t stop hurting for nearly three days! My shirt looked like I had went under a shower with it on, and my hair was also soaking wet. It was then that I realised how thankful I was that I decided to do the trek alone, as I’m sure I didn’t look like the most attractive person on the planet. Apparently the songthaews don’t pick people up from the temple gates so I decided to walk towards the main road in hopes that one would eventually pass me.

I read that they would honk and then you could wave them down, but when I saw one just pass me without honking (and I didn’t notice that they were there until it was too late), I started to panic. Multiple taxis and motorbikes would stop and ask if I wanted a ride, but I didn’t want to risk it because I knew they’d end up charging me too much. All of a sudden, I heard a honk, looked over, and saw a songthaew heading in the opposite direction (back towards the temple). I somehow crossed the extremely busy freeway and hopped in the back. The songthaew dropped off some people at the temple and then he started driving even FURTHER away from Krabi town. He was determined to get as many passengers as he could so even when we thought we couldn’t fit any more people in the back of the truck, he still continued to honk. He then stopped at what seemed like a house, said he would be back in about five minutes, and walked away. Me and the other foreign passengers looked at each other, unsure of what was going on. The driver eventually came back and seemed to take as much time possible in getting us back to town. I went back to the hostel to have a cold shower and change and by that time, I was starving since it was 2:30. I walked around, got lost in a really cool street market, but eventually decided to eat at an Italian restaurant, as I think my stomach was still having difficulty with eating non-western food. I think the Italian restaurant (called Uno) was pretty authentic, as the owner definitely didn’t look like he was Thai. I decided on penne arrabbiata, which was so good! I got that with a coke for 175 baht ($7.64). After my late lunch/early dinner, I walked around for a bit and then went back to the hostel to decide what to do the next day. The rain had started from the storm and would be continuing for the next couple of days, so my options were pretty limited. The ferry to Railay beach still wouldn’t be working, so I decided that I should just take a tour to see the hot springs and the emerald pool. It was a half-day tour so I’d get back to the hostel by 2:30, and the hostel worker said that the storm wasn’t supposed to start until about 4. I went to the free bbq at about 8:30, visited with some of the other people for awhile, and then went to bed.

On Friday morning, I woke up to a bunch of rain. I double-checked to make sure my tour would still be happening and then I went back to Coconuts Cafe to have a quick breakfast. This time, I had a yogurt and fruit bowl, which was also very good. The presentation on their food and drinks are so nice!

I then went to 7-11 to pick up some snacks for the trip since I wasn’t sure I’d be able to buy a lunch anywhere. My tour was booked through Cattery Tours and they were very organised! It cost 800 baht for the tour ($34.90), which was a bit pricey but was still a good way to spend the day. They had 16 different groups going, so they gave each of us a coloured bracelet in order to keep track of our vehicles. We drove for about an hour to get to the hot springs and when we got there, they were absolutely packed! I’m glad that I was just one person cause it was easy for me to be able to squeeze in between random families, but it seemed to be more difficult for people who came in groups.

We were given just under an hour at the hot springs, but they say that you should only stay for a maximum of 15-20 minutes, as the temperatures get too high. It was pretty relaxing though, and I may have extended my time by at least 5-10 minutes 🙂 After the hot springs, we drove another 15 minutes to emerald pool and blue pool. There, we had the option to walk 800 metres through the wet path, or 1400 metres on a heightened path. I opted for the longer option, covering my backpack with my rain jacket, and trekked through the rain to the pools.

I saw emerald pool but decided to keep walking another 600 metres to blue pool, hoping to beat most of the people behind me. The path started heightened but about halfway there, it dropped back down to ground level, where there were puddles of mud everywhere – with a lot of it being unavoidable to walk through. I had to slow down quite a bit, being careful not to lose my footing and slip into the mud. I finally got to blue pool, which is exactly as its name suggests : a blue pool. You’re not allowed to swim in this pool, as it’s protected, so most people just got a picture in front of the pool and then left (including myself).

I made my way back to emerald pool and had about a half hour to enjoy myself before having to walk back to the van.

I took the 800 metre walk back and I was completely worn out. I think the hot springs actually made my already-sore calf muscles even more sore! However, I made it back with five minutes to spare and then we drove back to the hostel. I showered, changed, and went to Arun Restaurant for dinner, where I had some more Tom Yum soup (since it was cold, rainy, and my last dinner in Thailand) with a coconut shake (to go with the heat of the soup) for 140 baht ($6.11). After dinner, I asked my hostel the best way to get to the airport for my 7:30 flight the next morning and they said I should leave at 5:30 in a taxi for 400 baht ($17.45). However, considering they said the same thing for me to get to Tiger Cave Temple, I wasn’t convinced. I walked to where the songthaews were to ask, but the driver didn’t understand what I was asking and just kept telling me to “get in, get in!” Luckily, there was a travel stand next to me so I asked him when the songthaews started running and he said 6am. When I asked him how much a taxi would be and he said 400 baht, I realised it would be my only option so I went back to the hostel, booked the taxi, got my bags packed up, and called it an early night. To be perfectly honest, Krabi Town wasn’t my favourite place – it’s extremely touristy and there wasn’t a lot to do. However, the weather and constant rain probably contributed to my impressions of it. I think Krabi province would probably be more worthwhile to explore so maybe I’ll have to check it out next time! Love always

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