Railay Relaxing, Thailand
Peter and Margie Benziger
Mon 9 Apr 2012 02:30
If you want to escape..RAILAY ESCAPE….Head to Railay Beach in Thailand!
If you really want to escape the hustle and bustle, visit the jagged peninsula of Railay, Thailand. It offers a series of spectacular clear water bays surrounded by towering limestone cliffs that drop right into the ocean. Don’t look for a taxi to take you here since there are no roads that can traverse the cliffs. Railay can only be reached by boat.
Years ago, Railay was discovered by hippie rock climbers and, today, it is still one of the world’s leading rock climbing destinations. There are over 700 bolted sport climbing routes on the penisula - many over-hanging water which allows climbers to jump/fall down into the sea. You will find challenging routes for experts but also lots of instructors to help you do your first climb.
The first accommodations were for the backpackers at Hat Ton Sai Beach. They remain quite funky and attract backpackers on a budget.
But some really fantastic resorts have been added right on the water on the beautiful beach of Railay West. These feature infinity pools, seafood restaurants and cocktails with fancy names. Railay Beach is a walking community since there are no roads. Just bring sandals and a bathing suit.
We were lucky enough to be at Railay during the Full Moon. That meant, music and dancing on the beach, fireworks and an amazing parade of illuminated paper lanterns that flew high in the sky. Celebrating the full moon festival is meant as a time for tham bun which for Bhuddists means “to make merit.” People usually make Khom Loi floating lanterns from a thin fabric, such as rice paper, to which a candle or fuel cell is attached. When the fuel cell is lit, the resulting hot air which is trapped inside the lantern creates enough lift for the Khom Loi to float up in to the sky. It is considered good luck to release a sky lantern, and many Thais believe they are symbolic of problems and worries floating away.
At the southern end of the Hat Tham Phra Nang beach, under the tall limestone cliff, is Tham Phra Nang Nok cave. Local legend claims that, during the 3rd century BC, a passing royal barque carrying the charismatic Indian princess, Sri Guladeva, foundered in a storm and her spirit came to inhabit the large cave. Local fishermen place carved wooden phalli in the cave as an offering to the Phra Nang (Holy Princess) so that she will provide plenty of fish for them. Here is a picture of Margie with her hand on a giant phalli….Hmmmm…why is she smiling???
There is also the Diamond Cave that contains some of the most beautiful limestone formations in the country, including the golden “stone waterfall of sparkling quartz.”
The area is filled with strange geological formations such as chicken head, the sitting elephant and the giant mushroom. Here’s a photo of Peter. He’s such a fun-ghi!
Dining out can either be enjoyed in funky local restaurants or you can hang out with all the other sun worshippers who sit on the beach facing west as the sun sets. Local food is served from long-tail floating restaurants.
A few miles offshore are the Ko Dam islands. These islands can be visited easily by long tail boats from Railay. While anchored there, at sunset, we witnessed THOUSANDS (!!!) of bats rise from the southern island of Ko Dam Kwan and head to the mainland to hunt for food. These bats are enormous and the sky was completely filled with them for over 30 minutes.
Traveling to a nearby island using Peregrina’s dingy, we came upon an individual who just want to live simply; away from the hustle & bustle and surrounded by nature. We heard classical music coming from this hut powered by one solar panel.
Drinking water was collected in a simple yet effective system..
Along the beach the resident had built shade huts. Every few hundred feet there was art made of sand, tree branches, shells etc. His private beach was his art collection.
The following quote comes to mind: “Riches are not from an abundance of worldly goods but from a contented mind.”