Running away to get married in Thailand, with family and friends in tow...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Getting high in Koh Phi Phi

So last night after I internetted, I decided to sign up to hire a climbing guide for a half day (for today). I spoke with a girl at the desk, named Naomi -- a British girl who has been visiting Koh Phi Phi for the past 4 years and has been living here for about a year and a half. She is recovering from a really bad injury -- she was leading and her partner let go of the rope...she fell about 22 meters. Luckily, she only fractured her hip. It was a few weeks ago, and she is able to walk on crutches. We chatted and chatted -- a very cool girl who has escaped death twice now. I was shocked at her story of being dropped, for one. And we chatted on, then she said that she was on the beach during the tsunami, got swept away, had huge gashes from debris and running into things, and also suffered from a broken back. Talk about a trooper! And she still had such a good attitude towards things. Amazing person.

So today, I went with John, my guide -- a 25 year old English guy who has been working here for about 1.5 years. It was just me and him today, since no one else signed up. We hiked over to Tonsai Tower, where the easier climbs are. It was quite a hike up, scrambling on the rocks and using some ropes tied to trees to help. The cliff is massive -- one of the routes being 7 pitches, I think. We did some of the shorter routes, which are still taller than what I do back a home.

All in all, I did 5 climbs. Starting at a 5a and up to a 6a+ (about 5.10a). It was quite nice, since I already know how to climb, we just got down to business...he lead, I belayed, no instruction at all. Just chitchatted like we were climbing partners. The climbs (I toproped) were nice -- limestone, some bulges to pull and some tricky areas, but nothing too sketchy. And I feel like I could have actually lead the first 3 I climbed. The bolts are placed really well, and pretty frequently. I feel like some of the runouts at home are quite a ways. And the best part of the climb...the view from the top. The bottom of the climb is a bit wooded, full of tropical trees and foliage, along with a mischievous monkey who was trying to steal our stuff. At the top of the routes, you overlook Ao Ton Sai and Ao Lo Dalam, which are the two bays in the skinny part of Ko Phi Phi. Brilliant blue waters, you could even see through a bit. Longtail boats abound and a solo kayaker. Every climb, the view was similar...but yet still gorgeous.

I had read a warning about climbing in Thailand on the beach -- about the bolts being rusty and whatnot. But what I found at Tonsai Tower was good equipment. You could see a few places where bolts had rusted out and broken. But all of the climbs I did, there was new equipment. The anchors were also all recently replaced. At least that was the case for the most frequently climbed (aka easy) routes.

On my last climb, a 6a+, I was wiped out. I rested two times, but I was so sweaty and beat by the end of it, and the tip of my right forefinger went numb...must have hit a nerve funny. But I was happy. I felt accomplished. I normally don't climb 5 routes at home, and these are taller even. I pushed myself today, and each time was rewarded with an amazing view overlooking the bays. After yesterday's experience on the boat, I feel so much more refreshed...

John and I chatted quite a bit. He gave me a lot of insight about how it is to be foreign and work here. It's not all that it's cracked out to be. He said he would only get 300 baht (about $9) by working today (guiding + watching the shop, so about 10 hours of work). He said that his room costs 1000 baht a night (normally it's 1400, but since he's a long timer, they give him a discount). For the ferry, they pay 300 (tourists pay 350, thais pay 150). They get charged farang prices, even though people know them here, and even though they earn Thai wages. Last night, Naomi said the same as well. It's not all fun in paradise. Long hours, and no time off, working just about every day. It's not quite the life that you would expect...

John is waiting for the day that he can bring his Thai wife back with him to England, so they can live a better life, work less hours, enjoy life more...

It was an interesting perspective from both Naomi and John, that opened my eyes. I thought, oh, it must be the life getting to work here. I want to do that. Maybe not...?

After climbing, I went back to my hotel and tryed to de-sweat myself under the fan. Then I went to the beach with my book, read a bit, watched the kids play in the water. The Thai kids and the farang kids were playing with each other, which is great to see. Kids are kids, and they don't care even if you don't speak the same language. They were all laughing, all smiles, splashing around and having fun. The sunset from Ao Ton Sai was gorgeous. The sun set behind the hill, so you couldn't actually see it, but you could see the sky turn from blue to orange to pink to purple. It was beautiful...

Then I treated myself to pizza tonight. Yeah, pizza, a total splurge..so many baht, I'm embarrassed to say how much I spent. But it was damn good, and that's that.

I walked towards the hotel again, and saw John at the shop. We chatted for a bit. He said that all of a sudden, Naomi had to be rushed to the hospital on bike/cart (there are no cars here, just bicycles and a handful of motorcycles). He didn't know why, though. I hope she's okay through it all and that it's nothing serious. She's a cool and inspirational chick who has the spirit of an eagle.

1 comment:

Dewdrop Falling said...

Sounds like a nice day!