In July 2012, we took on the first of our extended journeys, destination Krabi, Thailand. We spent two months exploring Southern Thailand with a base in Ao Nang, near Nopparat Thara Beach.
Ao Nang was picking up as a popular holiday destination, but was still significantly less commercialized than Phuket. Our days were mostly filled with trips to nearby sites in the morning, a massage after lunch while my son took his nap, and the market and beach in the evening.
The Tiger Temple in Krabi was a highlight for many reasons. Great food stands offered a variety of snacks, their were stray cats and wild monkeys everywhere and off course the Monks made for the best photos. Our son, who had his fill of Thai friendliness made for many amusing encounters where he flat out ignored the unwanted attention. No matter how hard the monk tried to engage him, he just tucked his hands away and stared blankly into the distance.
For the two months we stayed in Ao Nang, we regularly took trips to the nearby fish farm, and elephant sanctuary where we fed and washed the elephants. Nothing said, “You’re in a new and exotic place” like these traditional homes built on stilts, and the endless palm trees along the road.
Kiting in Nai Thon & Nai Yang
Nai Thon and Nai Yang are popular kiting destination with reliable wind. We took occasional trips here, staying in nearby resorts and spending the day on the beach, eating from the beach front food stalls while our son entertained himself collection shells.
The beaches were clean and quiet. Out of tourist season, we pretty much had the place to ourselves, only sharing the ocean with the occasional fishing boat.
Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island
About an hours drive from Ao Nang, we found a local fisherman who took us on a tour for the day. Among the stops were the Floating Village in Phang Nga Bay, where we canoed between the stone cliffs jutting out of the ocean and, James Bond Island where we explored the small cave system.
Although very much a part of the tourist track and crowded at times, it was an incredible experience to immerse ourselves into a completely different world to the one we know.
The markets are full of treasures if you plan to pick up any souvenirs. From gifts, to clothes and local food, you will not be short of entertainment. They even have one of the first floating Soccer Fields in the world where the local kids play.
The Floating Village is called Koh Panyi and is inhabited by a predominantly Muslim Community who were originally fishermen. They built their homes on stilts withing the protective ring of the islands as they were not permitted to own land. The village has a fresh water well and a mosque. The families living here generate a large portion of their income from tourism.
After featuring as hideout for the villain in the 1974 James Bond film, “The Man with the Golden Gun”, the appropriately named, James Bond Island turned into a popular tourist destination.
Nopparat Thara Beach, Ao Nang
Locally made coconut ice-cream became part of our evening ritual. Sunsets were incredible and the nearby night market came alive in the cool evenings.
Our favorite eating spot in Ao Nang was the popular restaurant Lae Lay Grill which was located at the top of a hill, overlooking the ocean and islands which decorate the shoreline. Evy became well known and very poplar with the kitchen staff, especially the head chef whom he took a special liking to. We could enjoy a quiet dinner while the chef entertained him, showing him live lobsters and feeding him treats from the kitchen.
One of our favorite dishes was the crab curry, hotter than we were used to but it kept us coming back. Lae Lay Grill is still there today and well worth a visit for both the food and the view… not to mention the babysitting.
We spent two incredible months in Ao Nang living like locals. The sunsets alone are worth a visit but if you want more than that, think beaches, massages, food, boat trips, islands, secret bays, monkeys, caves, temples, waterfalls, elephants and so much more. If you’ve been giving a trip to Thailand and thought, just pack your bags and get there for a cultural burst of flavor.