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Get your grubby hands on a copy of the latest edition (3rd) of Rock Climbing in Thailand Guidebook 2006 by Wee Changrua and Elke Schmitz for up-to-date routes.
by Sue Pok
Rock, Pad Thai, Massages & Singha Beer
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The title basically sums up our priorities (in that order) for our trip to Krabi, Thailand. Four friends hopped on a Tiger Air flight from Singapore during the National Day holiday in search of adventures down south in the Land of Smiles. Here is how my diary looks:

ROCK - Go climb a limestone…

Day 1 - Poring over our guidebook, we had a tough time deciding how to maximize our next 4 days on the rocks. We decided to start off first at Escher Wall, located at the west end of Pra Nang Beach. This crag has a good number of short (12-15m) routes around the middle though the higher (and harder) routes on either side of the wall are extremely dirty. We warmed up on Short & Easy and Long Doo then move on to the 6Bs (Mei rue arei, Humming Song, etc). Ian impressed us with a flawless lead on Don’t Grab the Krabi (7A+). We spent a good number of hours here until the sun truly scorched our backs forcing us relocate for shadier crags – Note: this wall is directly exposed to the sun this time of the year from mid morning onwards.

The other side of the cave is Thaiwand Wall and to get across, we need to do a bit of trekking in the pitch dark cave using headlamps (Note: High potential to get lost here. Remember to keep to the left exits and you should access three bamboo ladders in total) and descend by abseil (approx 15m). Exhausted, we did our final climb of the day on Lord of the Thais (6A+, 25m) at Thaiwand Wall before trekking back via West Railay Beach (also known as Sunset Beach) straight to our resort pool to soak our aching limbs.

Day 2 - Weather is not good. Dark skies and heavy clouds with sporadic showers all day long. The tide is high and we are unable to cross to most crags. The only crag that is accessible by foot is Diamond Cave. Lots of easy climbs in the mid section due to the layered rock shelves but gets sharper towards the top. As it rained on and off, we have to run for shelter at Rock Café, located right next to the cave between climbs. When we do get to spend dry time on the rocks, we did the first pitch of Keep The Jam Man (6B) and the unnamed routes on its either sides. We were having a good time monkeying around between climbs when we heard a loud rumbling crash followed by commotions in Cantonese. Apparently there has been an accident of falling loose rocks, which just missed a HK climber by an inch. That pretty much puts a dampened end to our climb for the day.

Note: Mozzies alert! Suggest bring plenty of mosquito repellant stickers. Local lemongrass repellant spray works really well too.

Day 3 - RAIN! This time it came down hard and non-stop the entire day. Sick of indulging in our 2nd and 3rd priority all day, we took a walk to Tonsai Beach in the evening to watch the experts climb in the drizzle and had a go at bouldering on the rock wave by the beach.

Day 4 - The sun is out and it stayed out the entire day. Armed with full spirits and gears, we went for a 20mins uphill hike from the end of Sunset beach and through muddy jungle trails up to Thaiwand Wall. The view is absolutely breath taking which puts us in a seriously good mood.

After warming up on Fit to be Thaid (6A+, 25m), we ascend first pitch on Sluggard Prince (6B, 28m) followed by second pitch on King & 1 (6A, 36m). Grisly overhangs on the first pitch climb. Ghastly looking anchor bolts. Difficulty in communicating with our third climber from the second pitch (highly recommend walky-talkies!). Serious water rationing. Sun beating down our backs. Did we have fun? Hell, yeah!!

Day 5 - Our last day! We have about two hours before the boat departs so we took the opportunity to head to the nearest crag to us – Muay Thai. Right next to it is 123 Wall which is seriously crowded most seasons because this is where beginner-climbing courses are mostly conducted. We spent time on Bad Boy (6B, 15 m) and Massage the Rock (6A+, 15m) where we ended up gathering moss and mud in the tiny cave at the anchor. We managed to get 2 more climbs in before the tide came in, drenching our toes.

PAD THAI - Fuel ‘em up!

Must be something about the salty air, but we are famished all the time!

Breakfast comes included with our rooms (Railay Bay Resort), which consist of the standard resort breakfast buffet – sugary cereals and an omelet station. The best breakfast I had in Krabi is at this café run by an English lady located next to “On the Rocks” climb shop in Ton Sai. Delicious muesli & fruits and ham/eggs served on toast with mugs of steaming coffee, all by the beach!

Lunches are mostly just cereal bars by the crags :(

Dinner is the only time we get to sit around and eat for hours. We have tried pad thai from a couple of restaurants along East & West Railay and my favorites are from:

Bobo Café (Sunset Beach). Interesting reggae-like bar which served freshly ground coffee from a machine, probably the only one you can find in Krabi! Their Bailey’s Latte is to die for. Wins hands down for food presentation but definitely not the cheapest. Overall, they have the best pad thai!

Rock Café (Next to Diamond Cave): This tiny eatery has surprisingly good food despite its unassuming appearance. It is a bit out of the way to get to but they do served a mean green curry spaghetti!

Sun Sea Resort (Sunset Beach): Conveniently located near our resort, you can get your usual favoriteThai grubs here, but I say their pineapple fried rice is tops.

MASSAGES - Rub thy pain away…

There are many small massage parlors around that throw in other services such as…err…hair braiding, but my favourite is still the spa at Railay Bay Resort (Sunset Beach). It is decent, clean and spacious (compared to the rest) and most of all, it comes with proper massage beds for those who do not like lying face down on rattan mats on the floor. Our local massage ladies are quite a character, entertaining us with their gripes on Thai men. They have very strong hands too - we like-y very much! Prices start from Baht 450.

SINGHA BEER - Drink, drank, drunk

What is a holiday without getting pissed drunk at least once? There are loads of bars to hang out at night along the happening East Railay and though they all claim to be ‘by the beach’, all you get is mangrove swamp view at low tide. We got ourselves drunk silly on Singha beer under a disco ball at Cliffman Bar. To find it, just look out for a big screen showing climb videos and a climbing wall next to it. Ran by climbers, this is a great place to let loose and share your climb stories while chilling to retro hits played by a ‘live’ dee-jay. There is a tattoo parlor inside as well so if you are drunk enough, you might have just enough courage to get one done using traditional Thai “bamboo” technique.

Another great chill-out bar a little further down is Coco Bar. Typical beach style where you sit cross-legged on mats with tree trunk stumps for tables. Their cocktails are super-strong! There is a pancake stand right next to it where you can get delicious banana-chocolate pancakes to go with your Singha beer.

Overall, we had a fantastic time in Krabi though we wished we could have better weather and more time on the crags. On the way back to home, we already started planning for our next trip there before the year-end.

Watch this space!

Dark skies over Diamond Cave.
Evening view from Ton Sai.
Boulder happy along Ton Sai Beach.
“Fit to be thaid” – same route, different style.
Belaying from anchor of Sluggard Prince.
Reaching second pitch, King & I.
Abseiling down.
The bar and cafe scene.
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