November 14th, 2006 – by: wanderlust85
View of the beach we are staying on from above, where we are climbing the Firewall
That's what they call it. Clearly no one calling this a ghetto knows the meaning of the word...this is Climber's Paradise. Anyone's Paradise. But of course what they mean is that this is the location of warm, tropical water, white sand beaches, heavy forests of coconut trees teeming with monkeys, a very laid back atmosphere of tiki bars and restaurants (everything is open air, even the bathroom in the bungalow), very inexpensive accomodations-mostly two or three year old bamboo bungalows that cost five to fifteen dollars per night, and that dirtbag climbers wash ashore from all over the world to dive nearby, eat seafood and pad thai and play on the limestone rock that is everywhere. At dusk the beach is filled with glittering oil lamps and people sitting around them on cushions telling climbing stories from the day (or from ten years ago and across the world) as they sip mango lassies or Chang beers. There are other people here, too, just vacationing. They stay, generally, on the southwestern side of the penninsula known simply as Railey, or Rei Lei. This is also a stunning beach, and a bit more polished, for better or worse; there are nice hotels with pools, people getting pedicures and massages on the beach and amazing sunsets. We, the people of this so called ghetto, are on the northwestern end, separated by a jungle forest outcropping of rock that can be scrambled over, swum around, or a combination of both, sepending on the tide. There is world class climbing at both sides of the penninsula, not much of it for beginners. To climb at Rei Lei (or go to the only ATM around, or eat ice cream and watch the sun set),we walk down the beach and then hike up along the upper path throgh a brief but steep section of forest and emerge, to many unsuspecting people, on the other side as if from out of the trees. Someone asked me yesturday, "Is this where people keep disappearing into? When I said yes, she asked, "what's it like on the other side?"