January 23, 2012

I Almost Drowned in Railay

Long tail boats on Railay Beach.
If you have the chance to go to Krabi do it! It’s a city on the southern west coast of Thailand near Phuket. Krabi is divided up into Ao Nang, Railay Beach, and Tonsai, which are the some of the best places in the WORLD to go rock climbing. Tonsai and Railay beaches are next door neighbors, only separated by some rocky peaks but there’s a quirky tide that makes getting from one beach to another a hassle. 
In the morning and late evening the tide is super high so you have to take a boat or the infamous jungle route to get from one beach to the other. The jungle route is not a nice little path through the forest, it’s a rock climb in itself without a harness or ropes and it takes a good half hour. During the afternoon, the tide is tremendously low, so people can walk across coral and rocks to get from Tonsai to Railay alongside beached long tail boats.
Beached long tails boats during the low tide afternoon.
Beautiful skyline with rocky peaks in Tonsai Beach.
Even walking with the low tide, it takes 10-12 minutes to stumble over all the sharp and misshapen coral to arrive at the other end of the coastline.
Crossing the exposed coral during low tide. Notice the tiny figure in the top right hand corner. That's a man.
Gives you an idea of how long you're actually crossing the beach. 
After a lengthy day of rock climbing, I met up with my friends Gilster and Katie from back home in Tonsai for drinks and to hang out with the backpackers. It was getting late and Kelly and I decided to head back over to Railay to end the night. At this point the tide was already up, consequently we had to take the jungle route. I had a tiny flashlight the size of my pointer finger and no idea how to even find the jungle path. Once we reached the end of the beach and didn’t stumble upon the land track we decided to get to Railay by water. Or at least I decided for us. Kelly was hesitant but I convinced her that we could successfully make it to the other side. Piece of cake!
It was pitch black outside and all those large rocks and coral are ever present but now we just can’t see any of it due to the water and darkness. We commenced our way through the water in our clothes and tennis shoes, which I knew, would end up adding to the moldy smell that seems to follow me everywhere. At the start of our watery trudge, it was only ankle deep so we were in high spirits that we could make it to the other beach without a hitch. “Who needs a jungle route!?” As we felt our way from rock to rock under the black ocean, the water quickly rose from ankles to knees. I was giving Kelly one of my usual pep-talks “We can do this it’s only to our knees, we got this!” A few short moments later, the water reached our chesticles. As I’m feeling fishies nipping at my bod I started to think, “Maybe this wasn’t the best idea.” But I didn’t dare say this to my partner in crime! At this point, my curiosity took over and I just wanted to push myself to lucratively make it to the other side.  I had my purse in one hand raised above my head and a tiny flashlight in the other hand trying to avoid giant boulders in the water and ledges that pop out of nowhere! Kelly has her jam-packed backpack raised atop her head with both hands. If anyone could have seen us, they would have called us “idiots.” I kept saying to Kelly, “It’s just on the other side of that giant rock, we’re almost there! It’s too late to turn back now!” I really did think the beach was right around this giant rock in the water that seemed so close to us at the time. All of a sudden, we stepped from one rock to absolutely nothing. I wanted to keep my purse and the trusty flashlight above water and could not find another rock so I swam hard with my legs to keep myself above water while trying not to giggle (too hard) at my helpless friend. Poor Kelly is swimming viciously to keep her filled backpack above water as best as possible but we are laughing so hard Kelly and I nearly drowned. We both disperse in opposite directions to take hold of the nearest rocks we could find. After we caught our breath and with no ocean floor around us to step on, we decided to tread water because I convinced Kelly that the beach was on the other side of the rocks that were extremely close to us. Once we reached the nearby rocks, we saw the beach…about a mile away. The lights on the beach were tiny orange specks of glitter in the distance. We treaded water for about half an hour from this point, me one handed trying to guide the way with the flashlight; Kelly pushing her backpack through the water at this point. Exhausted, we strolled on the shore in our sopping tennis shoes and clothes to survey the damage: Kelly’s backpack had been completely submerged with her digital camera, large and in charge Fujifilm camera, AND new cell phone. I felt terrible because I had no idea her nice camera was along for the ride or else I wouldn’t have pressed on so hard! We squished back to our rooms in silence. At least we didn’t drown or get eating by sharks. If you're in Railay or Tonsai, make sure to find the jungle route during the day and pack a flashlight!
Kelly with her camera during happier times. RIP Fujifilm.


  1. Oh my goodness...Ryan, Natalie, and I did this same exact thing the opposite route, at 2am after watching the Rugby World cup and a soccer match and wayy too many tall boy Changs! Definitely one of the worst decisions we ever made!! Ryan and I were infected for a week from all of the cuts we got from the coral! So funny yall did the exact same thing! Glad you made it in one piece!

  2. Yea it was not a pretty site! Those Changs give you an extra boost of confidence apparently. They should write that on the label.