There’s Nothing Crabby About Krabi

Recently I had the pleasure of cycling with Greg Ward, one of my oldest friends, during his first visit to Thai-land. We headed off island to the sports-orientated Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort and discovered some great cycling and some great goat curry to boot!

My great friend Gregory Ward is one of those people who seems to effortlessly excel at many things. He’s not only a highly regarded Canadian novelist, but sub-sequently took up the oboe and is now a professional oboist as well. Greg visited me in February and being a keen cyclist, more used to the rural leafy rides of south-ern Ontario than the daily tumult of Phuket, we decided to seek some quieter rides adjacent to the lovely Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Resort, situated on the edge of Klong Muang Beach to the west of Krabi Town amidst the fab-ulous sea and mountain views of Naga Head Mountain.

You can catch the daily ferry from Rassada Pier in Phuket Town to Noppharat Thara Pier close to the Sofi-tel Krabi Phokeethra, but lucky Greg traveled to the Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra from Ao Por Pier across Phang Nga Bay on the resort’s luxurious cruiser, while I drove our pickup, with mountain bikes lashed to the flatbed, around the coast road.

Here is Greg’s impression of his journey across the Bay.

Chances are you’ve seen the fantastic Phang Nga Bay seascape in some coffee table book titled “The Most Beautiful Places on Earth”. But unlike so many dream destinations, which hardly measure up to the dream, this multi-island paradise reveals itself more fully and more wonderfully mile after calm nautical mile.

These islands are actually karsts…limestone stacks squeezed heavenward from the seabed eons ago until, for sheer, towering other-worldliness, they rival the sandstone formations in Arizona or Utah.

My own dream excursion, by private cabin cruiser with a dynamic guide called Poppy and a full crew, came courtesy of my generous hosts at the Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra, the majestic seaside resort that would be my ultimate destination and home for two days.

En route, Poppy and I swam inside one karst into a luminous mangrove forest and held exquisite baby sword-fish in the palms of our hands. We paddled into Koh Hong and discovered a hidden lagoon surrounded by towering cliffs, draping limestone daubed with mineral oxides like a massive, 360 degree abstract painting. At Tam Lod we navigated a subterranean labyrinth of sea caves, thanks to Poppy’s unwavering sense of direction, and burst into glorious sunlight at its secret heart.

We spotted sea eagles and sidestepped a lazy water snake and marveled at a three thousand year old rock painting, clearly identifying one of the six species of dolphin that still show up regularly, for sanctuary, in this placid bay.

Then it was on to Koh Panyee, the Muslim fishing village on stilts with its own golden-domed mosque right there in the middle of the sea! And of course we had to (celebrity) worship at Koh Ta-pu or Nail Island made famous (and termite touristy) by the long ago James Bond movie in which it featured.

Rich and famous, that was me, at least for one all too short day aboard (and overboard) my private Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra cruiser in Phang Nga Bay. Island hopping through calm, emerald green waters, nibbling prosciutto and passion fruit, it was a case of: “Eat your heart out Mister Bond”.

Once ensconced in luxury within the huge grounds of the Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra, Greg and I set out at dawn the next day to cycle the flat, coast-hugging ride past Tub Kaak Beach northwest to Klong Sai National Park. Chaining our bikes to a decrepit park sign, we hiked ever-upwards for an hour through primal, rain-dripping forest to the peak of the mountain. Every March this is the scene of the Nong Talay Naga Festival which draws a big group of participants for the hill running and mountain biking events in the park. We were more than happy just to walk it and then return to the Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra to feast on their massive buffet breakfast!

The day was spent lot lunging in tiithhe enormous swimmingii pool (three Olympic lengths apparently), trying our hand at archery and making complete buffoons of our-selves in the aqua-aerobic class. Yes, the Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra is nothing if not sports-orientated, but certainly compensates for all the exercise with an excellent spa
and delicious cuisine.

Our evening ride took us south from the resort along the coast as the sun commenced its evening pyrotechnics across Phang Nga Bay. We visited the opulent gates of the Royal Residence on the tip of Hang Nak Cape and then inland to Klong San Temple and finally south and along Hat Noppharat Thara Beach with its burgeoning tourist development.

After a swim and a hot shower back at the Sofitel Kra-bi Phokeethra we experienced a strange craving for a spicy goat curry and found a superb example of the genre at a little beachside restaurant just across from the resort.

Yes, there’s certainly nothing crabby about this part of Krabi….but goaty? Well, that’s a different matter!
Story by ByBaz Daniel and Gregory Ward

Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort
200 Moo. 3, Tambon Nongtalay, Amphur Muang, Krabi 81000
Tel: +66 (0)75 627800
Email: h6184-re@sofitel.com
www.sofitelkrabiphokeethra.com

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