Krabi / Railay : A beautiful start to my Thai beach time.
Railay Travel Blog› entry 97 of 268 › view all entries
I wiggle my toes. The grains play between them. There are so many grains of sand, donāt ya think?
I have headed farther south now. The hills and mountains of the northern reaches of Thailand are long distant. They have diminished. Given way to smaller undulations of land, rivers, pasture fields and the tarmac and train line grooves of man. South of Bangkok for the first time now. Those mountains, having petered out behind me long ago have now turned to rocks fringing the shore; and those rocks to sand. The sand flows down to the waters edge - tickled by the Andaman Sea - and beyond.
I think some people might say that you havenāt really visited Thailand until you see, or go for your first ride in one of the traditional Long Tail boats.
[ FLASHBACK ]
48 hours previous. Book in hand I sit in the Hostel International, Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok studying my āRough Guide to the Beaches and Islands of Thailandā. Itās mind boggling the plethora of potential paradises that the southern reaches of this nation seems to offer? Where to start? How to choose? But choose I have. Iāve settled on the rather pretty sounding Railay beaches. These fringe the tiny west coast peninsula south of Krabi town, the destination for where I have just purchased a ticket for the 12 hour night coach tomorrow.
As I sit and contemplate a little yellow butterfly flutters past and settles down upon the bench besides me. This is Natalie. A fellow Brit, fresh off the plane from Oz, not feeling 100% and exhibiting early symptoms of a heady mixture of jet lag and āBangkok Shockā. Following the usual polite intorductions and a bit of travel āblah blahā, me reeling off my logistical manouveres for the coming 24 hours etc, it turns out I now have a travel companion to Railay for the next stage of my adventure :)
24 hours previous. A day of practical bits ānā bobs whilst in Bangkok but in a moment of extremely prophetic logistical madness I counsel Natalie (now safely booked onto the same coach as I) to meet at the Hostel a good 4 hours before our coach is due to depart. We have to get aaaall the way across Bangkok to the Southern Bus Terminal āSai Tai Maiā.
Despite contorting my tiny frame into about 56 or more compositions upon the coach seats; a veritable Karma Sutra of attempted sleeping positions and postures, sleep is a struggle indeed and snatched in small amounts at best. But itās ok. Weāre here now! The sun is up. A taxi to the pier. The road turns to rock; turns to sand; meets the sea. There are so many grains of sand donāt ya think? The waters of the Andaman wash around Natalieās ankles, sandles in hand, as we await to board our first of these.
[ END ]
Safely collapsed onboard. Our bags too. The possibly centuries-old reconstituted lawnmower of an engine, propped up at the back of our Long Tail taxi boat wheezes and sputters into life. Nat and I begin to cast our eyes about. Itās been a long 17 hours or so of constant travel. I feel soothed to be moving upon the silky sea. Krabi recedes. The land to our left is rising rapidly into large rocky outcrops. The landmass making one last geological burst for the skies before giving into to the demands of the ocean. Fantastical looking cliffs, moving, erupting upwards. Glimpses of their white facades barely visible amidst the dense clustering of tropical trees upon their flanks and crowns. I am smiling. Natalie is smiling. I think we can sense it. I think a pretty special destination awaits us.
South of Krabi town, the Railay peninsula or āLaem Phra Nangā (just the final 1 - 1.5km blip of land at this point of Thailand ) constitutes four beaches clustered together. The principle beaches of most beauty and interest are those of East Railay, West Railay and Ao Phra Nang on the southwest tip.
I canāt tell you how nice it is to be back by the sea! I need this moment; these surroundings every now and then. And what surroundings!! The jutting, mushroom-like eruptions of land form observed by Natalie and I on the Long Tail over come to a magnificent, masterful crescendo of Mother Natureās powers of presentation as they gather and ring around the super-soft white sandy stretches of these beautiful beaches. Huge limestone karsts reach high up to cup the sun. Tree fringed. Sometimes a silhouette to the left of West Railay like a sharks tooth to my mind. The scenery is astonishing and will not let go of my awe-struck imagination for the entire time I will stay in Railay - and writing so many weeks later, is yet to do so!
Nothing complicated today.
Time is passed. Relaxation abounds. Some snorkelling about and sitting (too much) in the sun. Showered and changed and back to West Railay, otherwise known as āSunset Beachā. Large mats have been laid out on the sand around the entry point to the beach where the tiny, unobtrusive stretch of shops, dive companies and a bar or two reside. The sun is lowering down into beautiful shades of peach, rose-pink and gold.
Nat and I partake of a lovely meal at a restaurant upon the beach. The spicy green papaya salad an interesting, pleasing choice. Something quite different. I love the way Thai cuisine manages to make such a riot of the four taste senses work every time and seduce your palette despite the seeming incongruity of ingredients and flavours.
Night drawn down now, and the population of West Railay pleasantly depleted yet further by the Ton Sai exodus, Nat and I are sat back on the mats beneath the light of the moon. Itās full moon tonight as it happens. And whilst half of the Thai islands and beaches are likely exploding in a nuclear party melee; a bubbling, broiling typhoon of young testosterone, oestrogen and alcohol, things are just calm and calm again here in Railay. The sound of the waves washing against the shore. And I am glad and smiling.
Owing to the moon we can only as yet see a solitary, bright star in the early night sky. Natalieās boyfriend is apparently quite into the subjects of space, the stars and suchlike. He once imparted to her the, I think, oft repeated assertion or āfactā, that there are apparently more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand contained on all the beaches of all of the world.
I strain to see the stars.
I wiggle my toes. The grains play between them. There are so many grains of sand donāt you think?
[ Appendix : 'Sand and Stars' ] updated 06/04/2009
Thanks to the efforts of my clearly underworked TB pal and research assistant Natalie (Pinkhoneybee) here are some Net-gleaned nuggets of info theorising about the possible calculations of Sand and Stars :
So how many grains of sand are there in the world?
"You could start off by trying to guess how many grains of sand there are in a spoon of
Multiply the two numbers together to get an estimate. "Using this same principle, plus some additional information, mathematicians at the University of Hawaii tried to guess how many grains of sand are on the world's beaches. They came up with 7,500,000,000,000,000,000, or seven quintillion five quadrillion grains of sand."
That number is 7.5 x 10^18 or 7.5 billion billion.
How many grains of sand are in the world?
The calculation is detailed here:
How many stars, galaxies, clusters, QSO's etc. in the Universe?
"To get the total stellar population in the Milky Way [that is, in our galaxy alone], we must take the number of luminous stars that we can
see at large distances and assume that we know how many fainter stars go along with them. Recent numbers give about 400,000,000,000 (400 billion) stars, but a 50% error either way is quite plausible."
So in our galaxy alone, there might be between 2 x 10^11 and 6 x 10^11 stars
They conclude with various other calculations and the following statement :
"It's all a bit complicated isn't it? But isn't it crazy that there may just be 100 stars to every grain of sand!!!!!!!!"