After three days in Khao Lok, it was time to hit the road again. We caught a local bus to Krabi town. The bus was packed full and we ended up standing in the aisle for half of the three hour ride. Our next destination was the backpacker/climbing mecca of Ao Ton Sai, Thailand, which was only accessible by boat.
The first thing I noticed about Ao Ton Sai was that many, many people there were wearing dreads. The typical local and many backpackers looked something like this:
There were guys that had dreads down to their knees! The next thing I noticed was that those people were also full of arm tattoos. It seemed the longer you had stayed on the island, the more, well…homeless, you looked. Another trend was harem pants, which I detest on either sex. Can you wear anything less flattering or less functional?
Unlike most of the other beaches in the area, Ao Ton Sai has stayed relatively inexpensive. Especially when it isn’t high season, you can get a mattress in a bungalow with a shared bath for about $5 a night and meals are about $2-5. It’s very possible to live on about $20 a day. The problem is, the word is out on how great the climbing is and Ao Ton Sai is completely overwhelmed with tourists. When we were there, every place was full to capacity and there was the distinct smell of human excrement all over the island. Most of the toilet systems seem to drain directly into two ditches that line the one main road that loops through the residences on the hill above the beach.
We weren’t able to book in advance and were a little stressed about finding a place to stay on a busy holiday. We asked at every resort and bungalow and kept getting the same answer – full, full, full. We talked to other travelers who were planning to sleep on the beach for the night. We were just about to give up and catch a boat back to Krabi when a backpacker told us that there were three tents left to rent at The Forest. For 150B ($5) we had a tent on a cement platform in a shelter. There was no mattress available, so our strategy was to stay up as late as possible for the New Year so we would be too tired to notice that we were sleeping on a thin blanket spread over concrete.
Pat made some non-dreaded, non-tatted friends to go climbing one day. He was “super-amped” and was tempted to stay in Ton Sai for an extra day or two. Unfortunately, a massive storm hit the south of Thailand and it was pouring rain for an entire day and the weather reports said it would rain for three days total. We caught a ferry to Ko Lanta in search of good plumbing, beautiful beaches and more secure accommodations.
Check out the rest of our Thailand adventure here!