Friday, January 17, 2014

Thailand Holiday Diaries: Day 5

(Wednesday, January 15th, 2014)

That's it!!! My last day in Railay! And thanks to the banging and clanging coming from the staff quarters of the hotel across the way (which is about 10 metres from my room, apparently) preparing for their morning shift at daybreak - I was up in time!
I rushed down to the water's edge to a still-dark sky, a thin line of light barely visible on the horizon. As the sky started to get gradually lighter, I actually thought I'd missed the sunrise again, and that it had gone behind the clouds already. So I just waited, and watched the world light up around me instead. It seems absurd to describe it in colours like "pinks", "oranges", "yellows". It's so much more nuanced than than, soft glows, in different hues, melding into and out of each other...
To my sheer delight, after breathing in the new day for a few minutes, I suddenly saw a bright orange orb begin to escape the line of candy-pastel hues on the horizon! HELLO SUN!!!

Daybreak behind the mangrove trees

I stared until the sun had risen and was floating free, and then crossed over to the other beach to really enjoy some time on it before it filled up with tourists. The colours are so spectacular in the early morning light - the blues are startling shades of turquoise and sapphire and aquamarine, the greens are all bright and bold and rich and somehow... glowing. I found a plastic bag again, and went about collecting the trash left on the beach from the previous day once again. This time I was on my own, except for a few joggers who ran past me in the early morning coolness. (I will never understand jogging. How is that "fun" for anyone?! So bizarre. Bless their crazy little hearts!)

After walking the entire length of the cove, I came back to my hotel, feasted on fresh watermelon and pineapple and set about planning my departure the next day. I fly from Krabi to Bangkok the day after tomorrow, early in the morning. So I need to spend the night in Krabi tomorrow in order to get to the airport on time for my flight. I found a guest house which I booked online, but because I booked it through a website I have no contact email or phone number for them, so I can't just call them and say "Hi! I'm coming! Please come get me!". Things are a little more complicated in Thailand. Although the longtail boats run basically every hour, that will only get me as far as the pier. And then what? Will there be taxis there? Will there be a bus? How do I even tell them where to take me, if I DO find someone? I've learned that having addresses written down in English is almost of no help at all in Asia - this is true for any place that uses a different writing system. Soooooo... the tour booking agent in my hotel says she can help me. "Be here at 9 a.m," she said, pointing to a big tractor with a long wagon attached. I am DELIGHTED. I hope this means that I don't have to wade through nasty mangrove-swamp mudwater with my 20kg backpack, my 5 kg frontpack and my 7 kg shoulderbag tomorrow - and that the tractor will take me all the way out to the boat instead, as I've seen them do. BUT - this is Asia. And you NEVER KNOW. So we'll see. She also wrote down the name of my hostel on the ticket which she sold me, and said there'd be a bus waiting at the pier to take me to my hostel as soon as we get to Krabi. I wait with bated breath.

Once again, I hung out on the beach for most of the day. I'm reading "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Beredt right now, which is a GORGEOUS book, and one I've been meaning to read for ages. But I found it hard to focus today, my thoughts invariably wandering to the fact that it's my last day in Railay.
It certainly hasn't been long enough, let me be perfectly honest about that right now.
Now: I KNOW how lucky I am to even get this time. And I have been soaking it in in its entirety, I assure you. But I feel like holidays run a natural course, usually: The first few days you're still very much stuck in your "real life" mindset - aware of time, planning ahead, go-go-going, not quite at ease. Then as time wears on, people fall into that delicious space which we call "holiday mode". You stop caring about eating regularly, and just feed yourself when you're hungry, you forget about time and just wake up when you like, go to the beach when you like, sleep when you like, do whatever-whenever-however you like. Which is LOVELY. People think it's the peak of the trip, the apex - but it isn't. Once you've been in this zone for a few days, you start to come back down to reality again. You're still in holiday-mode, but you have time to reflect on your life - on all of its facets and nuances and questions and challenges - without it stressing you out. Your mind is clear, you see the angles differently. And then finally you get to that point where my brother and his girlfriend were at when I met them in Bangkok just before the Job Fair. We had 3 days together at the tail-end of their Thailand getaway. After two and a half weeks on the islands, they were both happy, relaxed, and excited to go back home again and kickstart their new year plans into action. And I think THAT'S the best place to be. When you are EXCITED to leave behind the beautiful beaches and get back to your everyday life. THAT'S the ideal.

I feel like I ALMOST got there. I am certainly happier than I was when I left, certainly more relaxed, and certainly grateful that I got to take this time off at all. But I also feel like I fast-forwarded through it all a bit, and if I had the choice, I'd easily spend another week doing nothing but reading on the beach, eating, sleeping, watching sunrises and sunsets...
Then again - I could probably spend another MONTH doing this, really. Or even a year. Sooooooo... NEVERMIND. ;)

OOH! I can tell time using only the sun now! TA DA!!!!!! Of course, so far this special gift has only revealed itself to be true for Railay... but ya never kno-how! I know where the sun is in the sky at different hours in the day. I remember some of my friends in Boracay could do this (I'm looking at you here, Tito Pablito and Chef De Partay!) and I always thought it was amazing. Now I realize that the reason it amazed me was because I was always indoors teaching and didn't take enough time to just watch the sun move through the sky. You live, you learn. I certainly do. There's so much I don't know. I find it thrilling. And exciting. What an INCREDIBLE world we live in!!!!!!!

Speaking of our incredible world, another thing I've really loved is being "in nature" again. Big City Livin' in Taipei has so many benefits that there's no point even starting to list them all here - it's no secret that I ADORE the city, and am so grateful for the life of ease and calm which I lead there. But I grew up a small-town girl in Southern Africa. I love hearing the birds chirping early in the morning, and the cacophany of different insects in the evening. I get excited by seeing spiders and geckos in my room, squirrels running across the walkway in front of me, monkeys jumping from tree to tree above my head, bats swooping low in the fading twilight. Those little moments have all been huge highlights of my trip, really. There are these tiny little sand-coloured crabs that dig around at the water's edge all day. They make little balls of sand into the most spectacular patterns. I've spent ages just staring at them work industriously. You have to be really still though, as they obviously feel the vibrations of movement, and dart into their little holes in the sand when someone approaches. I even took a video of it, so fascinated was I !


So yes - the final Railay sunset tonight, and it was gorgeous. Bright pinks and fuscias - the whole sea was aglow, not just the sky, you could even see the colours bouncing off the rocks of the limestone cliffs! Too stunning! Just a few metres away from me these two young Swedish girls started doing what I later found out is called AcroYoga, which was just spectacular to watch - very uplifting and beautiful! My very own Cirque show, right on the beach! :)

Front-row seats at the most gorgeous open-air theatre in the world. ;)

I think I shall take myself out for another langoustines-and-sweetcorn-on-the-cob BBQ tonight, before I pack my bags and get ready to head on out tomorrow morning.

Adieu, Railay!

My last Railay sunset. What a send-off!

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