As I jumped off the longboat onto the golden white sand of Railay beach, the mixture of exhaustion and excitement - a feeling that every backpacker will know well - hit me.
The road to Railay had been a long and tiring one. Two boats, two trains and two buses to be exact.
Less than 48 hours beforehand, my partner and I were sitting in a cafe in Georgetown, Malaysia, trying to work out where our adventure is taking us. After 2 months of life-changing experiences (living in the jungle, scuba diving on pristine coral reefs and seeing Orangutans to name a few) we decided that our time in Malaysia was coming to an end.
You see, we were in the backpacker limbo. The thrill of being somewhere new - combined with the rush of all those adventures - was wearing off and we weren’t sure where our next hit was coming from.
It quickly dawned on us that we were only 500kms away from Railay, the undisputed climbing paradise of Southeast Asia. You might think that 500km is far - and you are probably right - but to us, two curious idiots who and already traveled halfway across the globe, it felt so close I could almost see the golden limestone walls.
After checking government guidelines and discovering some helpful travel information, it was decided. The next morning we checked out of our hostel and started the journey North.
After an intimidating border crossing and a painfully long wait for the only train of the day, we eventually made it to Hat Yai.
If you are not familiar with Thai geography, Hat Yai is the largest city in the southern province of Songkhla and the fourth largest in Thailand. For those who are fortunate enough to visit this amazing country, every few will venture this far south and it’s not hard to see why.
Besides the handful of terrorist activity and violence that has plagued Southern Thailand over the last 20 years, the city of Hat Yai itself is very underwhelming.
Endless rows of gray buildings and an eerily quiet atmosphere. And because of a virtually non-existent international tourist market, don’t expect any English translations or fluent locals.
But like anywhere, beautiful things can still be found. The fresh fruit and seafood markets were delicious, its streets lined with local food vendors - who despite speaking no English - always welcomed you with a smile.
After spending the night (in what might be a contender for the world’s smallest hostel) we navigated our way to bus service and set off the next morning for Ao Nang, the penultimate stop on our journey.
Ao Nang is a beach town jam-packed with tourists and everything that follows the holidaying masses. Overpriced burger chains, stalls lined with counterfeit goods and bars stocked with watered-down spirits.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of fun to be had here too if you enjoy a drink or two. But after 24hrs and 500kms of traveling, a night on the town was the last thing on my mind.
Nevertheless, if you want to get to Railay, Ton Sai and any of the beautiful surrounding islands, this is the place to be.
After a mostly sleepless night in the cheapest place we could find (which happened to be a party hostel) we woke up early the next morning to complete our pilgrimage to Thailand’s climbing capital.
We clambered into an old longboard that was straining to stay afloat. The boat slowly pulled itself towards the approaching Railay beach and the road was coming to an end - at least for a now anyway.
Where’s the road taking you?
Let's be real, 2020 has been a doozy. However, thankfully there's been no shortage of awesome-ness from you all - so we've put together a little round-up of our most liked Instagram posts this year. Check out the photos you liked the most from 2020 below! 1. This year, you guys loved the finer things in life: Like art: View this post on Instagram A post shared by Teton Gravity Research (@tetongravity) 2. Huuuuge road gaps: View this post on
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