Loving Railay Beach Rock Climbing – I’m officially hooked. Rock climbing is my new passion. There is something incredibly exhilarating about clinging to a rocky pinnacle while balancing on a ¼ inch toehold 20 meters above ground. Our few days (much too short) on Railay beach were fabulous afternoons spent hanging precariously on giant limestone cliffs and abseiling over the Andaman Sea’s emerald waters. By the end of our twenty climbs, my muscles were trembling with fatigue, I was covered in chalk and scrapes, and my fingertips were bruised and bleeding, but I had found a wonderful new hobby and want to go again immediately.
Railay beach was our final destination in Thailand before crossing over into Malaysia. We came from Koh Phi Phi and traveled down to Krabi to this small peninsula between Krabi and Ao Nang. Railay is accessible only by boat, and there are plenty of boats for hire that make the trip back and forth. We came to rock climb. High limestone cliffs dot the shore and attract climbers from all around the world. Having not participated in this extreme sport before, we thought it best to sign up for a few days and give it a whirl. Why not?
And the climbing begins – We quickly found, interviewed, and signed up with Cliffman Climbers. They showed us their safety gear, they gave sound preliminary instructions, and we met a few backpackers that had just finished a few days of climbing with them (five star recommendation). Our appointment was for 6 a.m sharp the following morning, so we unpacked in our guesthouse on Ton Sai and set off to explore Railay’s lush jungles.
But first…a climb of a different sort – Our guesthouse owner suggested hiking to the famous viewpoint and lagoon. He warned that the climb was tough though, so not to go if we weren’t ready to sweat a bit. We are always ready for a challenge and set off for the climb.
The hike/climb/crawl to the top of the Railay’s viewpoint took us twenty-five minutes. The trails were muddy and steep, and we slipped several times, but no injuries thus far. Views from the top showed us incredible Ton Sai stretching out before us. We could see the transport boat by the beach, our accommodation peaking through the foliage, and then nothing but jungle and limestone cliffs as far as the eye could see. Having tackled the viewpoint path, we decided to challenge ourselves even more to reach the lagoon. Hand ropes helped us along the steeper areas, but I think I certainly got my stretches in preparation for tomorrow morning.
Rock climbing is incredible, yet indescribable – I can’t explain it. I want to, but how can I describe the awesome feeling of dangling hundreds of feet in the air on a rope the circumference of my index finger? We swore, we cried, we sweated buckets, sliced open fingertips, and ripped off toenails. But…it was FUN. FUN. FUN. and enormously rewarding. Since the views we saw were accessible by rope, sheer skill and strength, we really learned what the human body is capable of accomplishing.
With a few simple instructions, I soon grasped the basics of rock climbing. It helped that my instructor shouted out where to put certain hands/feet when I got stuck…..which was often. Our Thai instructor was an amazing ape of a man who could shimmy up the rock in a slit second. I was a bit slower most times for I liked to enjoy the views before taking a deep breath and hurling/abseiling back down to the bottom.
We traveled to different climb sites throughout the day, and long into the afternoon. After the sun set and our climbing ropes were put to rest, we spent our evenings relaxing on the beach, watching the streaky sunsets and cheering on the volleyball and soccer games along the sand. (we also used this time to rub our sore muscles and doctor our wounds!)
We are leaving Thailand just in the nick of time on the final day of our visa. Our next destination is Pulua Perhentian Kecil where I hope to do some long afternoons of SCUBA diving. Goodbye Thailand – you were certainly an adventure to be had.