Friday, December 23, 2016

November 21

This morning after breakfast we headed over to the walking street near the West Beach and walked up to the climbing place we'd gotten signed up at the day before. Brandon and I were the only ones signed up to climb, but we'd asked the night before if Duane and Shauna could come and watch if they wanted, and they said that would be fine.

So, we got our gear (shoes, harness, chalk bag) and then went on a long walk back to the East Beach and then around a long side path (felt a little like we were in a cave with a large overhang) that led over to Phra Nang Beach. We walked along the beach and then a little farther back up into the jungle to the base of a good cliff where we could climb. This was my first outdoors climbing experience. Somehow, in all the time that I've been climbing now, it has only ever been indoors. Not a bad place to start! We were climbing with our guide (Su) and an Australian couple (Bruce and Kari, if I remember correctly) who'd climbed the day before and would climb that afternoon as well. Su got Bruce started going up one route (leading the route, so setting his rope/quick draws into the anchors in the rock as he went up) and then Bruce and Kari climbed on that one for awhile. While they were on that route, Su lead climbed our route, setting it up so we could top rope from it. I belayed for him while he lead the route and I'll admit I was a little intimidated! I'd never done it before, and while I knew the theory, it still felt like a risky space to me. But it went completely fine, the rope was set, and Brandon and I climbed the route! After we'd all climbed our own route we switched routes and did the same for those. Duane and Shauna hung out with us for awhile and finally left around this time to explore other things and relax out of the sun.

The third (and final) route we tried started by going up and around an awkward overhang. Brandon went first (always the most difficult place to start as you've not had an opportunity to watch anyone else really do it). He tried a few times but the overhang portion proved extremely awkward and he was pumped out after a few tries. I went next and angrily pushed my way past the overhang and up to the top. Aside from the overhang, there were definitely other parts where if Su hadn't been yelling at me to just stand up, I wouldn't have made it up. But I did! Bruce and Kari tried next. After many attempts, Bruce did make it over the overhang, but was too pumped out to go any farther. Kari eventually made it up from another route around the overhang, but also gave up part way after that. I think Brandon tried again once or twice more, but everyone was feeling out of steam at this point. Needing to clear the route, I went up one more time. I was going to deviate and go the way that Kari had gone around the overhang, but Su convinced me (pressured me!) to go the hard way. And I did, and I cleared the route (unhooked all of our quick draws from the anchors as I came down)!

We packed up everything and headed back down to the beach to walk around, but as we got down there, Su told us we could all jump in a boat and just head over - about a five minute boat ride, as opposed to a 30 minute walk. Now, with more forewarning, I might have been fine with this, but the boat was leaving and we needed to get on now! The problem was that I was wearing rolled up capris, so there was no way to get on without getting the legs of my pants wet, which I reallllly didn't want to do. But not seeing an immediate way around it at such short notice, I waded into the water and got on the boat. It was much faster, but I was not happy. I now had to walk around with the lower parts of my pants slogging around my calves and ankles, feeling decidedly unpleasant. And as I result, I was not in a particularly pleasant mood or amenable to discussions of what to do next. I needed to change and I needed food. In that order. Or grumpy Geneva wasn't going away.

We walked back to the hotel, changed our clothes, and I immediately felt better. Duane was off exploring, but we told Shauna we'd be heading back to the walking street to grab some food. She met us over there a little later and then Duane showed up a little after that. We had lunch at a little open restaurant and they had some ice cream and coconut across the street at the same restaurant.

After lunch Brandon and I rented a kayak and spent the next hour wandering around some of the little islands around Railay. There are so many of them! Following that, Brandon wanted to swim a little, so I went with him back to Phra Nang Beach. Exiting into the beach area there were a number of monkies hanging out near a trash receptacle and stealing any food they could from staring strangers. We watched them for awhile and then wandered to the two caves that were a little further down the beach. Both caves were full of phallic carvings of different sizes and materials. It was...very weird.

We swam for a little while in the bay there and as we swam we watched an ripped old(ish) man with a long white beard free climb (no harness or rope) a tall ledge close to the beach where other climbers were lead climbing. It was simultaneously very impressive, and very very stupid. Free climbing looks and sounds really cool, but it is a sport that has a very high mortality rate. I climbed out of the water, anxious to get clean and not feel so salty and grimy, and as I waited for Brandon we watched this same man proceed to lead a yoga group on the beach. We didn't quite know what to make of him. Brandon swam for a while longer and then we walked back to the hotel and got clean. Together, the four of us walked back to the same restaurant of the night before and had another delicious dinner.

We talked to the hotel staff when we got back and arranged a transfer with them for the next day, leaving at 12:30 PM. The price? 1200 baht total for the four of us - waaaay cheaper than our previous transfer had been.

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