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04
asia: thailand
a sliver of thai
Thailand is
heaven – beaches,
bluffs and the longtail
asia’s hottest
destination.
surprised? Lonely
Planet author
dan Eldridge believes you
shouldn’t be. He looks at
both sides of this intriguing
land, where adventure and
natural beauty lurk round
every corner.
The SouTh
The glassy waves are no taller than a beach
ball, and they’re rising and falling with an
almost hypnotising precision. In fact, if I
weren’t roaring across the ocean right now
in a cigar-shaped longtail boat, my shoulder
muscles tight with nervous anticipation,
and both of my hands gripping into the
wooden plank that doubles as a seat, I might
even describe the motion on the southern
Andaman coast today as calm. Graceful,
maybe. Or elegant.
But I know better.
As the nose of the boat rises again and
lifts itself over the crest of another wave, I
grip my seat tighter and squeeze both eyes
shut. I lean forward ever so slightly, and then
WHAM! The longtail spanks the water like
a massive clap, and a fine mist of saltwater
floats toward my face and lands square on
my glasses, rendering me temporarily blind.
And then just as quickly as it began, the boat
levels out and stops its mad hopping, and we
begin to move forward with a smoothness
that almost feels like we’re sliding on ice.
After eventually cleaning my glasses on
a dry corner of my shorts, I blink hard to get
the glare of the blazing sun out of my eyes.
I then notice something for the first time:
I’m smack-dab in the middle of what must
certainly be one of the most gorgeous and
astonishing corners in all of South East Asia.
This province of southern Thailand is
known as Krabi (gra-bee), and while it’s
undoubtedly a tropical dreamland, it looks
quite different from the postcard cliché most
A land of
people imagine when they hear the words
“beach paradise”. Sure, there is a plethora of
white sand beaches of every shape and size
here, but Krabi is also home to an incredible
collection of massive limestone cliffs.
Soaring dramatically over the water’s surface,
as islands, or over coastal forests inland,
these tower-shaped karsts come in two
2 halves
varieties: some are cylinder-shaped and have
nearly vertical sides, while others resemble
cones with their tips pointing skyward. Both
styles are practically worshipped amongst
serious rock climbers, who for years have
been travelling here with the express
purpose of testing their skills on what is
considered some of the world’s greatest
climbing terrain.
Back in the longtail boat, Rai Lei
Beach comes into view. A haven for sun
worshippers, rock climbers, sea kayakers,
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viEw OUR thailand tRip dOSSiERS at www.KUmUKa.COm
summer / auTumn 2007 Venture Venture summer / auTumn 2007
P4-7 THAILAND.indd 4 17/8/07 07:18:46
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