Saturday, 22 February 2014


Just now we’re in Krabi, last week it was the lovely little island of Koh Lao Liang and before that Tonsai. Here is a quick update about what we were up to while we were there, I am a bit behind the times unfortunately. There're a few other things I'd like to say about Tonsai that would be helpful for people, like us, thinking of going there, but I'll leave that for another time.

I think it was mid-January that we arrived at Tonsai by longtail boat after getting off the ferry at Ao Nang, just around the coast. We arrived at a very low tide and our heavily leaden longtail became beached about 100m from the shore. One couple immediately jumped off and having light bags waded off towards the beach. When nothing seemed to be happening about the boat, we decided to do the same and jumped off each carrying two heavy bags. This as a mistake, walking over a sharp reef, knee deep in water with two heavy bags turns out to be a tricky business. After I made it in and went back to rescue Cat, the longtail was already at the beach unloading everyone else, it had moved off relatively easily after I had gotten off! We just had to make it through some ankle deep mud, where I lost and Cat rescued my flip flops, and we were on Tonsai beach, way after everyone else on our boat and in a cloud of mosquitoes.

Railey sunset
Cat descending from Lord of the Thais
Last night

We stayed at Tonsai for about three and a half weeks, we’d decided beforehand that we’d stay for a while becuase it’s one of the main climbing areas. On our second night there, we moved to a nice room at the Countryside Resort where we stayed the whole time we were at Tonsai. Most days that we were there we climbed. We preferred to climb a bit in the morning and then again in the evening, relaxing somewhere shady, reading or swimming in between. It was very hot, usually in the low to mid 30's, and humid. I don't think Tonsai gets much of a breeze either because it's quite enclosed, so it gets pretty sweaty. It was usual to lower off a climb utterly drenched in sweat, at any time of day. I had to be pretty careful not to let me hands touch any part of my body and to avoid looking at my feet so that I didn't drip sweat on the footholds.

Walking through the jungle after a night of cocktails
There is, however, some amazing rock at Tonsai, the cliffs are massive and I've never seen such massive dripping tufas – but I confess, I haven't been to Kalymnos. This makes for very enjoyable climbing amongst tufas, stalactites and other weird formations. The routes generally aren't that sustained though because there are so many features. Another thing I'd heard about was the polish and it is the most polished climbing that I've seen. I can adjust to the polish; I just pretend all the footholds are made out of something like slate and are supposed to be slippy.

Spiderman wall

Chak Wow, I think, I was far too scared to give it a proper go

I was pleased to do Jai Dum, an 8b, on my last day there. This took a fair number of mornings, getting up just after sunrise to try and get some slightly less sweaty conditions. Also, did Asia Shadow Play, which is one I remembered from photos I had seen. This one’s very sharp and caused havoc with my soft skin. Cat's climbing confidence improved loads while we were there, especially after a bit of long overdue falling practice, and she's now busting out 6c's and 7a's. After being quite scared of falling off, it turns out Cat loves falling now and goes out of her to way to take even bigger lobs.

We spent many mornings down at the Tonsai roof area, which is where most of the harder climbs are. It is right off the beach, is short and steep and gets the shade in the morning. Afternoons were often spent just around the corner at Freedom Bar, relaxing. The other side of Tonsai bay was good for evening cragging, bigger crags like Cobra Wall, Melting Wall or The Nest. Some good afternoons were also spent at Railay, where there is some of the best climbing but fewer harder routes. There're quite a few longer routes in the area and this might be the best way to escape the crowds and the wear of the more popular areas. We only did two routes, but I wish we'd done more, the classic Humanality and Lord of the Thais were both great. They make Lord of the Thais sound like it's the best route ever, which I don't think it is, but it does have great climbing on it.

Cat on Lord of the Thais
Cat on Humanality

We did a day of discover scuba diving, which was amazing, and we’re both keen to try and do a bit more at some point. But so far, climbing has gotten in the way... We’ve also been terrible at resting, Cat especially! We had a bare handful of actual rest days the entire time we were at Tonsai, instead gradually getting more and more tired until we couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I even allowed Cat to trim my ginger locks after they started getting very unruly. I've never had anyone cut my hair before who isn't a highly trained professional, and Cat said she's done it once or twice before but about 25 years ago. However, it didn't go all that badly, I'm sure you'll agree...

Hair cut pain

Hair cut suffering

not so bad...

scary Cat

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