Sunday, 12 February 2012

Thailand

As usual I'm a bit late with this post but at the start of February Cat and I got back from three weeks travelling around Thailand, climbing, sightseeing and enjoying the local cuisine.  We started off with a few days up in Chaing Mai in northern Thailand, the unofficial capital of Northern Thailand is an old university city and after a day and a half speeding round Bangkok in tuk tuk's the chilled atmosphere and quiet streets were a nice change.

As well as getting a feel for old Thailand, eating some great food, visiting temples and elephants and wandering around the weekend night markets there's also some great climbing on the nearby Crazy Horse buttress.  About a 45 minute ride out of town the crag gives everything from technical face routes to steep tufa fun and is a really well set up and managed area, well worth a visit for a few days.  We used the bus service provided by the local climbing shop to get to and from the crag, its by far the easiest way and they even bring you a hot lunch to the crag at lunch time!  

Next up we headed down to Ko Phi Phi which after Chiang Mai was a massive culture shock and not quite what we’d expected and more like the Costa Blanca than Thailand.  Still the scenery was spectacular and we spent a lot of time in the water exploring the reefs and many exotic fish.

After two days on Phi Phi we jumped on the ferry to the climbing mecca of Ton Sai and Railay.  I’d gone a bit sceptical of what the climbing was going to be like after many stories of sweaty and polished rock but figured the setting would make up for it.  Ok it was pretty sweaty and fairly polished but for me this didn’t detract from the quality of climbing and spectacular views.  Ton Sai itself though was unfortunately a different story, garbage everywhere, smell of sewage and stories of people getting sick, a real shame that its suffering from its own popularity.  After a brief look around Ton Sai we ended up staying in Railay East which wasn’t that much more expensive but much cleaner although did lack the atmosphere and vibe of Ton Sai.  As expected 7 days there was far from enough and we only visit a fraction of the crags but were both really getting into the climbing by the end of it.

We spent the final 5 days of the trip on the small island of Koh Loaliang.  This was definitely the highlight of the trip for me, with only 25 people on the island when we were there and a short 30m stroll to the climbing from the tent, paradise.  We met some really nice people, spent chilled evenings with cold beers round the bar and quality climbing that comes into the shade late morning, perfect for those lazy mornings!  I even managed to surpass my own expectation and finished off the trip by flashing a 7b+, quite a personal achievement for me and it’s got me fully psyched for to put some proper time in and try to get fit on the rock this summer, would love to climb 8a one day...

For info on Crazy Horse at Chaing Mai there is a great article here about the crag and all the logistics http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=3677 If you don’t end up using the bus provided by the climbing shop maybe think about dropping a small donation in with them, it’s a really impressive set up they’ve got going but need all the help they can get.


Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok


Maya Bay 'The Beach', Ko Phi-Phi - a bit busier than in the film!
(photo Cat Freeman)

local taxi heading home for the day

Cat enjoying the amazing setting of the classic 
multi-pitch route Humanality, Ton Sai

 End of a days climbing at Happy Island, Phra-Nang Beach

 Koh Loaliang - tents on the left, climbing on the right!

Golden a 6c on Loaliang, possibly one 
of the best routes at its grade? (photo Cat Freeman)

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