A Hippie’s Paradise on Tonsai Beach.
If you like to go a little bit off the typical tourist route… this might be the beach for you. If you love rock climbing, snorkeling, sea kayaking…this might be the beach for you. If you have a hippy spirit and don’t mind a lizard or two in your room…. this might be the beach for you. Surrounded by nothing but amazing limestone cliffs that attracted some very talented rock climbers, this secluded beach, that is only accessible by a long tail boat from Ao Nang Beach in Karbi, might be your slice of heaven.
1/24/14 Scooter+Taxi+Ferry+Bus+Van+Long Tail Boat+Unexpected, Rocky Beach Hike= Ton Sai Beach, Karbi
The travel day was exhausting and no one seemed to know how to get us to our secluded beach. I don’t want to remember it, I don’t want to talk about it….all I know is that it finally ended with us taking a long tail boat to the wrong beach and then waiting till low tide to wade in the water to get to Ton Sai Beach with my 40lbs pack above my head climbing rocks as the waves came in…almost knocking me over several times. Funny now, frustrating then.
This is the part of the trip Kevin and I split off from the group to have a relaxing, romantic getaway. We were in for a bit of a twist. Ton Sai had a more rural and rustic feel to it. The least expected (and best part) was the very hippy atmosphere we were thrown into. The amount of people from around the world (mainly France/Germany/England) that had come to climb the massive cliffs overlooking the ocean was quite alarming. Another enjoyable factor was the amount of fucks given for social normality was none.
We stood out to say the least. Soaked from the waste down we arrived on our beach and quickly noticed that you didn’t have a blunt in your hand or dreads, you stood out. Although this is not my personal life style, I loved being around these hippies, it made the beachy vibe all the more chill and nonjudgmental.
Our bungalow had at least three lil lizards living in it at all times, we only had internet in the lobby for a few hours of the day, and the electricity only worked from 6pm to 6am. It was very rustic and unexpected. However, some of my fondest memories are of places where the completely unexpected happened. Whether it was a positive or a negative experience. (We booked this place 2 days before hopping on the ferry.)
That evening we sat at a reggae bar on the beach while this tiny, ripped Thai man with an afro (yes an Asian with an afro) did some fire dancing for us…..Awesome.
1/25 Kayaks, Boobies and Blessings
After the shock of our new surroundings for the next four days Kevin and I woke up early and eager to start our first day. We decided to spend the day kayaking to the nearby caves.
Our mission of finding secret passage ways to paddle through or private beaches to rest/snorkel through was full accomplished thanks to Karbi’s many islands. For lunch we pulled up to Railay Beach. Lunch was delivered via long tail boat…street food style. Sections of the beach were lined up with a couple of long tail boats selling anything from burgers to corn in the cob, to the obvious favorite, Pad Thai. With our bellies full of Pad we it was time to take a snooze. Being an American I am not use to the European…beach culture. It was boobies/Speedos galore. You name it we saw it… old ladies in bikinis and their bits hanging out, check…fat man in an itty bitty Speedo, check… old boobies, check… old man bits hanging out, sadly…check….. young boobies, check… fat, small, big, national geographic boobies, check, check and check! So on one hand I was very disgusted and on the other, happy for those people, that they can feel so comfortable with their bodies.
You can’t help but be continuously humbled by God and all the beauty he created for us. One of my favorite moments while staying on Tonsai was watching the sunset on our second night. After dinner I spent the evening under this papaya tree, journaling. To my right I watched the sunset and to the left I had some skilled rock climbers scale the limestone cliffs. To top of my moment of awe and bliss for life I remember hearing a French woman tell her lover (in English!) “This is a beautiful fucking present of life to be here with you now”. I couldn’t agree with her more.
I was overwhelmed by the beautiful people around me and was wrapped up in thoughts of how did they get to here? How do so many people get to spend their lives traveling and seeking adventure and some never leave the own state. For the first time in 3 months my mind was at ease. Moving to South Korea, was the best thing I ever did for myself, but it was also very stressful and at times heartbreaking. I just felt so fulfilled in this moment.
1/26/14 The Beach (Maya Beach)= Over polluted Snorkeling Fun
Today was awesome! Once again, the sun was up and so were we. Before high tide came in we had to wade our way over to Railay Beach to being our snorkeling excursion. Visiting 4 beaches, one cave and 2 snorkeling sites, our day of snorkeling and island hopping was about to begin.
First stop, Maya Beach. This beach is one of the Koh Phi Phi islands and is the ‘poster child’ of how beautiful and exotic Thailand is. One problem, since Leo’s movie came out, The Beach everyone and their dog…literally was at this so called excluded beach. Although beautiful, it was so over polluted with tourists that it was hard to get a decent picture, let alone enjoy the nature of the beach. I mean it was so packed that our giant speed boat had to do a 90 degree back up just to find a parking spot. We jumped off the boat and were told “You take 1 photo, then we go”. So you spend about 30mins trying to find a shot with no one in it then board the boat again and off to the next beach.
Next up was a spot called Loh Samah Bay where we got to see a special cave…. which for the sake of me I can’t remember…Viking Cave? Maybe? …anyways the snorkeling was awesome, we had plenty of time to roam around and see all the beautiful lil tropical fishys!
The next snorkeling site was just an open water area. Everything was so crisp and clear. It was nice cause you felt like you could see on forever underwater, but my favorite was snorkeling by the caves.
The last beach we stopped at had me a little too excited. The water so clear it didn’t feel like swimming in the ocean at all. I know it sounds weird but it felt like I was swimming through liquid plastic. This was my favorite beach of all. Kev and I slapped on our goggles and splashed around in the water until we were whistled to leave.
So I get grossed out by the Europeans showing it all, then I come across this little beauty….guess where she is from? Korea! haha it is funny to see the VAST difference between cultures and what is deemed appropriate beach behavior. Koreans are so afraid of sun, its like they literally think it is poison. Then again they also look amazing as they age, so maybe there is something to this look? Either way I loved watching this woman play in like a foot of water with this power life vest. She was just too cute..lmao.
Once we got back, we were burned out and exhausted. We made it back to our hut to a pleasant surprise of more lizards in not only our bathroom but our bedroom. Kevin loved it.. I on the other hand was tired and I have a slight fear of small creepy crawlers… so I blew up! To put it briefly we had a “I am going to break up with you if you don’t kick the lizards out” moment. Not my finest hour I’ll admit, but it made for a hilarious story buy the next day. Turns out they truly are afraid of you as you are of them. The lizards and I came to an understanding that night… I wont kill you… you don’t crawl up my shorts in the middle of the night.
1/27/14 Tiger Cave (aka Monkey Temple)/ Scooter Karbi/ Surprise Snake Show
It was our last day in hippy paradise and we decided to venture around Kari. So our day started out like every other morning. Get ready by sunlight (no electricity), apply the 1st layer of sunscreen, grabbing some banana bread from a hippy that came to the beach on vacation a long time again and never left…do you blame her? Then it was off to our long tail boat to Ao Nang Beach, the main land. Quite the morning but that’s the price you pay when you stay somewhere ‘away from it all’.
Getting a scooter took a while, we were informed to never give out your passport as collateral and many rental places required keeping them to rent. No matter how safe and legit you think the company is, it is better to just walk away. Given that there was so many rental shops we played hard to get until we found a good price and let us give our drivers license instead.
After fueling up we set out for our first destination, Tiger Cave. It was about a 30min ride from our Shell Fossil beach (main beach hub for us), through Karbi and to the high mountains where the cave lied; it was a beautiful drive. Tiger cave is this massive Buddhist cave at the bottom of a mountain and had a giant Buddha shrine on top of a mountain. This temple complex not only serves as a religious site for the monks who live and worship there, but also offers a few natural caves in a overgrown jungle valley to explore. Tiger Cave or, Wat Tham Sua is where stone tools, pottery remains and the mold for making Buddha footprints were made. It is 1,300 steps up to the top and you will be bombarded by greedy monkeys the whole way.
This temple hike had a beautiful view of the surrounding farms, and mountains. I highly suggest it if you are in Karbi.
They are greedy, but make for an eventful hike up and down. On our way down (you have to side step the stairs because they are so steep) Kevin and I watched a slightly scared couple make their way down one flight above us. Then it happened. The boy slipped but causally caught him self…well almost. As we all watched his flip flop bounce down the steps a tiny little deviant scampered across and snatched it up. The monkey proceeded to hop onto the railing with his new found prize. In these situations, I confess, I am the worst help. I couldn’t help myself form giggling as this poor guy spent the next 10 minutes trying to bargain with a monkey for his shoe. Realistically there was nothing I could of done to help him, I told myself. And this guys bargaining skills were not working. He even tried doing an even trade; his water bottle for the shoe…fail! The monkey pulled the water bottle out of his hand, throw the shoe to his monkey-brethren and proceeded to unscrew the lid and drink all the water. Way to go opposable thumbs! The poor guy never got his shoe back, but he left us all with a good laugh as we finished our hike down.
Next stop..lost. After grabbing some curry and a drink in downtown Karbi we decided it was time to head back to the main beach for some shopping and relaxation. 45 min into our ride we realized we had no clue where we were. The view from the road was so beautiful we completely ignored every road sign we came across. After stopping at several roadside shacks/coffee shops we finally found the main beach. Getting lost was actually a lot of fun, turning our 30min ride into a 70min adventure, however dehydration from riding in the sun had zapped my energy. I started to get really high headed and felt like I was going to pass out.
To my rescue, Kevin found a good old Holiday Inn where we took refuge until I was able to walk straight again. I found it so odd while we were there that the people at this Holiday resort never left the resort, except for the rare inclusive city tour or excursion. It was hard for me to understand why anyone would come to a beautiful country with such rich culture just to stay within the familiarities of their home. Why spend the money on a plane ticket if you’re not going to submerge yourself into that culture or nature of the country. Where is the fun in that?
We ended our day watching the sun go down on Ao Nang beach and it was stunning. When the sun was down we checked out a local art exhibit, shopped a little then headed back to our humble home, Tonsai for our last night of drinks and relaxing…or so we thought.
After freshening up and grabed dinner we decided to chill at our favorite bar. A Bob Marley inspired hut right on the beach. After a Chang or two we noticed a gathering of people at the entrance of what looked to like a homemade boxing ring.
Finally I thought, we would could check off another item on our Thai Bucket List… Muay Thai ‘street’ boxing?!
Nope. It ended up being one of my worst fears. A poisonous snake show with about as much safety regulations as the Sochi Olympics had adequate rooms for the athletes. The only thing keeping the cobras from biting the audience was…”how fast can you get out of the way?” I climbed back onto the boardwalk and watched from there.
It was quite interesting to watch; a man jumped into the rink and ‘played’ with a king cobra then added another into the ring. Sending the crowd into oohs and ahhhs as he danced around with the snakes, avoided their strikes and kissing them on the head before they would strike again. The show was free, so we all made sure to leave him a hefty tip for his snake show.
This concluded our adventure on Tonsai Beach. I highly recommend you checking out this part of Thailand. To continue following our Thai adventure, follow me to Chang Mai.