Whilst in Krabi town, we met loads of people who were just passing through for one night. The backpackers we spoke to seemed to see it as an opportunity to touch base with home, catch up on some sleep, and avoid spending too much money. It is a midway point between the Andaman Coast and the Gulf of Thailand, as well as being perfectly placed for those doing visa runs to Malaysia or flying to Bangkok. It has large ports and an airport, naturally making it a transport hub. Lonely Planet pretty much reiterated this, calling it ‘a necessary transit link’ – such an injustice!
We’re too scared of the motorbikes, the weather was overcast and we blew the budget back in Koh Phi Phi, so we rented bicycles. It was a chance to have some guilt-free fun and get some exercise after the buckets of noodles we’ve been scoffing.
Obviously it was mayhem. Terrified of the roads and constant beeping, irrelevant road markings and traffic lights, along with the scooters that came head on at us down the wrong side of the road, we boarded the pavement pretty sharpish. Spending a good 20 minutes walking alongside our bikes, weaving between market stalls, cats and hurried Thai people who found us very amusing, we eventually confronted our fears and took to the road.
Within the first hour we’d been yelled at, laughed at, beeped at and driven at. I’d ripped my trousers on the bike chain, Sarah was sunburned and we realised mid-hill that we were unable to change gears, making that upward climb an even sweatier struggle.
However, we pretty much laughed the entire time and even started to gain some confidence. It seemed that as long as you made eye contact with nearby drivers, showed clear intentions and just went for it, they would drive around you and mind their own business. It’s only when you start to hesitate/scream/cry that any problems arise. We got into our stride and were pretty happy once we reached the quiet country roads.
We of course got lost and started looking for somewhere to stop – thinking we’d found the most beautiful park for a well-deserved rest, we saw the sign reading ‘Agricultural Prison’. Continuing onwards (and definitely upwards) we ended up near the airport, about 8km further than intended, so we pulled up at the side of the road to regroup. At this point a Thai lady came running out of her house, with two bottles of ice cold water, beaming at us. We were slightly bemused but very grateful! Her husband and teenage son had come to join us, taking turns to pose with us for photographs. Their excitement at seeing two very white, very lost tourists was a clear indication that we’d strayed pretty far from our original route. After much sign language and mime, it was evident that wherever we were heading, turning back on ourselves was key.
In need of some fuel. We found a small Chinese cafe on the side of the road, where we had the freshest, tastiest Chinese food we’ve ever encountered:
Eventually we made it to Tiger Cave Temple which was incredible and very much worth a visit. It’s also one of the few ways to spend a day sightseeing for free. The mountain climb to the view point was a challenge to say the least, but worth the slog.
After hopping over a pack of stray dogs to get to our bikes, we were back on the road to Krabi Town. Covered in dirt, sweating profusely and in the third lane of what we suspect was a motorway, we made it back within about two hours, stopping via the evening market. It’s situated on Maharat Soi 10, open from 6pm to 9pm. The fresh curries, gorgeous fruit, different breads, giant fish, and every kind of meat (we were slightly suspicious of which animal some of the meats came from) created some appetising aromas.
We shared a banana and chocolate crepe in honour of pancake day – declaring it to be the best thing we’d even eaten.
Back in the mayhem of the town, we’d lost our nerve a bit and were slightly uneasy weaving through the traffic. However eventually a policeman spotted our nervous dispositions and walked straight to the middle of the road (stupidly brave in my opinion) and stopped the traffic so we could get going.
Krabi is inexpensive and accessible, but these are not the only reasons to visit. Whilst the bike ride had its highs and lows, it allowed us the opportunity to get a proper feel for the place. The welcoming Thai residents, beautiful fresh food and unique scenery make Krabi a town well worth embracing.
Feeling proud, exhausted and quite in love with Krabi,