Most of the hostels I have been to are just a basic place to sleep and hang out in (sometimes it is just the first part). Design is an afterthought, if present at all. Not that it really matters (a bed is a bed), but it is a pleasure to see a place designed with some aesthetics in mind. There is this hostel called Pak Up in Krabi Town, which is easily the best hostel I have ever stayed in. Not only it is super clean, has air-con, hot water and snow-white sheets, but the place has got its own unique style and character. It is like a modern art gallery designed by contemporary Danish artists. Designer lamps, lounge cushions, grey concrete, chrome and dark massive wood. Minimal, stylish and chic – just as I like. Every dorm has own its own school class related theme. Each bed in the Math dorm is square root of a number. The Music dorm names beds after different genres (mine was Ambient) and so on. At some point I had a choice between a dorm in Pak-Up for 200 baht and a really basic single room in a no-name place for 100 baht. I went for the former. Yes, it is that good.
Krabi is a nice town to spend a pair of days in. There is not much to see or to do, as most of the action takes place on nearby beaches Ao Nang, Tonsai and Railay, but the general laid-back atmosphere is nice. One of Krabi’s few attractions is Tiger Cave Temple on the top of a hill. You have to walk 1237 steps to reach it, but the view is well worth it (I love how in Eastern tradition they make you to do an effort to visit a temple, no easy way). Then there is a night market on weekends with plenty of food and entrainment. Lots of delicious seafood for supper and a drag queen show and a children breakdance performance for entertainment, all in one evening. It is interesting how in Western countries drag queen culture is something you can see only in a gay club, but in Thailand it is part of the mainstream culture. Other than that it is free decent internet and reasonably priced shops for essential things like flips-flops and fisherman pants. Purchased myself a fourth pair of flip-flops already, which was only 80Baht. It will be interesting to see how long these ones last.
Krabi’s beaches are another story, though. Ao Nang is a massive faceless tourist hell that could be in any part of the world. The beach itself is nice, but the environment is not with its endless chain of shops and restaurant tailored to specific nationalities. German and Swedish are the most popular ones. Tonsai and Railey are a mecca for rock climbers and apparently some of the top climbing stops in the world. I did a half day course, which was my first time outdoor climbing experience. So much superior to than indoor one, it is like a treadmill run versus mountain hiking. The course was pretty much all practice with bits of theoretical knowledge here and there. The climbing course I did in Helsinki was spread over two days with the first day filled with theory. I think I prefer Thai way much more. Other than rock climbing and spectacular scenery Tonsai and Railey were nothing special and here again the same problem as on Ao Nang – too crowded, too developed and too touristy. E.g. there were tractors on Railey transporting people and baggage to long-tail boats during low-tide. How messed up is that? Then again I am spoiled with Hat Yuan. Both places have similar environment – an isolated bay reachable by boat, but Hat Yuan is much more chilled and less developed. So after one night and one rock climbing course it felt pointless to stay there any more and made a return to Hat Yuan. Back to Ko Phangan, back to Hat Yuan.
I love this feeling I get when I arrive to a new place knowing that there are places to explore, new food to taste and things to experience. After x days, the novelty factor is gone and gets replaced with the “been there, done that” dull experience. Stay a few more days and it turns into the agonizing feeling of just getting out there. But while novelty factor is in effect, it is pure bliss. First day in Krabi Town and I love it! Food I had at a night market was amazing and it was such a refreshing experience after Malaysian / Indian food. Interestingly enough I got bored of Thai food just over three weeks ago. Funny that.