Krabi, May 2003

The Rockrats took their first trip to Krabi in May 2003. Here are some photos and the trip report…






More photos here…

The casualties:

1. Lai – who missed the train. I believe the telephone conversation went something along the lines of (not exact words):

S: Where are you?

Lai: Old Klang Road

S: Well, hurry up okay? You have to be here by 7pm.

Lai: Sure, sure. Going to Amcorp Mall to catch the LRT.

S: Ok. Don’t be late.

Lai: Yeah, yeah. Uh, it’s KL Sentral right?

S: Yup, that’s right.

Lai: Near the market right?

S: (frowns thinking) market? what market? (out loud) Shoot! That’s central market! Pasar Seni. KL Sentral is before that!

(Much later… everyone is on the train)

S: Where’s Lai?

A: Not here yet.

S: S***! Train’s gonna leave soon. (Picks up the mobile and starts dialling Lai’s number). Lai! Where are you?

Lai: It’s okay, I’ve reached the station.

S: The train is moving already.

A: (calling out) The train has left the station!

Lai: But… (speechless)

Sorry Lai – had to tell that one… it was a classic. Ironically, Lai catches the 10pm bus and makes it to Hatyai before the rest of us with plenty of time to scout around and do some early shopping.

2. Kit – sprained ankle on the night we arrived at East Railay on – nope, you’ll never guess – uneven concrete! Amazingly, this supergal is climbing the very next day like a pro with no injuries!

3. Jason – the one from the other group. Injured toe because the bathroom sink fell on it. Yup – no kidding. Funny how all the accidents are non-climbing accidents, but the trip is a climbing trip.

4. Jason and Shen – 3 pitch epic on Humanality…

Pitch 1: tree climbing.

Pitch 2: traversing from the tree to the stalactite.

Pitch 3: stalactite to the base of the REAL first pitch.

Time taken: half a day.

Discovery: Upon reaching the first anchor, we realised that we couldn’t reach the ground abseiling on one 60m rope and we couldn’t lower off the first pitch because the climber would end up hanging in mid air with no way to get back to the cave where the first anchor is set up.

Lesson learned: Always plan how you’re going to get down before you start climbing.

The christenings:

Mike P – Michael Mor (the slowest member of our group).

Su Chin – Tan Siow Chien (and various other versions over dinner which I didn’t really catch due to lack of understanding).

Derek – Lelek (go ask Adrian why – I believe it’s his pet name).

Chow – Chow Chi (something to do with crude Hokkien words).

Lai – “The fearless” (for the most number of attempts and successes on 6B climbs)

Things we will never forget:

– coconut shakes

– phat thai noodles

– massages of all kinds (namely: Secrets, Hatyai, and Big 2)

– a place called Sandsea

– “Shake it up baby!”

– “Humanality”

– Pierre, Daniel and Meryl (I have their email addys but I have to remember where I put them)

– sprained ankles and injured toes…

– storm climbing gives new meaning to speed climbing (that storm came in so fast!)

….Krabi crew feel free to add to the list.

Some fantastic climbing from:

1. Lai – “The King and I” – 6B on Thaiwand wall. The comment from Lai before attempting the climb: “What? Penn did this? I also can do!” And a couple of other 6B climbs requiring some pretty committed moves. Great stuff!

2. Su Chin – showed up all the guys with a great performance on the wall and some amazing stemming. Who needs yoga, when you have Su Chin.

3. Derek – wicked stemming at Tonsai.

4. Gan and Ooi – First lead attempts.

5. Chow – First climbing attempt!!!! (Yay! We’ll make a climber outta you yet!) And though this isn’t to do with climbing, our master chef kept us well fortified with pasta and tong sui in between climbing. I think we were the best fed climbers on the site. Lots of other climbers curiously came by to see where the lovely aroma originated from.

6. Kit – Awesome “moo-moo” strength (Legs? Who needs ’em?)

7. Jason – While the rest of us strain and struggle, man, he raged! Leading on Stalagasaurus, it took me half an hour at the crux to secure a stemming move to a stalagtite. Mr Loh gets up there and breezes through the crux like an easy Sunday climb (the bastard! Sorry Jason – just jealous). Adrian grunts his way through to the anchor with his face a mask of pain during his lead on the “cave route”. Mr Loh hangs off the end with a massive grin on his face, woohooing.

8. Mike Mor – nice work on the crux at the climb in Dump’s Kitchen and for the most patience waiting to ascend the second pitch of Massage Secrets at 1,2,3 Wall while some rather rude climbers bypassed our second team of multi-pitchers and hogged the wall while they were on it.

9. Adrian – Found his climbing mojo at Muai Tai wall and went on to blaze through We Sad and another 6B at 1,2,3 Wall.

10. Me – Got the groove back in the “Groove Tube” on Firewall and got the chance to attempt a 7a (falling off before the first bolt) curtesy of Leong from the other group who redpointed the route.

The Highlights:

Chor Tai Dee on almost every night and in every transport between KL and Railay.

Day 1:

Stifled coughs at the border to make it past the border SARS check points. The project route along the bunks in the train. Our van that was supposed to take 30 minutes to arrive and be solely for us came 2 hours late and picked up four more people (one who later joined us climbing – Meryl). Adrian managed to squeeze us a nice deal at Diamond Cave and we enjoyed a lovely Thai dinner at View Point.

Day 2:

Some warm up climbs at 1,2,3 and Muai Tai. Group meets the route “We Sad” – what a sad, sad route. Made some of us cry in frustration or cry in fear (yours truly freaked out despite having a spotter – funny how an injured knee will contort to any position without pain when you’re scared. I think I’m starting to believe that adrenaline stuff). A Thai climber demonstrates the climb campassing up (arms only) and expecting everyone else to repeat his moves. Mike Mor supposedly meant to arrive after lunch rocks up no earlier than 5pm (Thai time) due to boat and van problems (Sharon who came on Wednesday experienced the same problems under slightly worse conditions with her transport).

Day 3:

Thaiwon wall – Su Chin makes a breakthrough on Primal Fear and goes where no man has been before (or rather she was the first of our crew to successfully complete Primal Fear and make it past the crux). Adrian’s compliment: “Su Chin! Well done, you b****!” Lai masters the “King and I”. Mike Mor demonstrates the ability to move faster than his usual snail’s pace with the brewing of a storm on the horizon as he blazes up Primal Fear on adrenaline fuel. Lelek, too, displays enormous climbing finess on the “King and I” with the darkening clouds on advancing. Our motley band of climbers make a mad scramble and fled from Thaiwon wall just as the rain set in. We all enjoyed the royal treatment during dinner at OUR conference room in Sandsea.

Day 4:

Started off with a nice buffet breakfast back at our favourite Sandsea restaurant and decided we were now too lazy (and heavy) to hike over to Tonsai, so we took a 5 minute boat ride. This was the day of reckoning for some. Adrian cleans Stalagasaurus, Mike completes the crux at Dump’s Kitchen, Jason and I experienced our “3 pitch epic” on humanality (all the more reason to return to Railay for the full epic – stay tuned for the second instalment of humanality: Krabi 2004). Everybody tries the cave climb and hate it (except Mr Loh) – should rename this route “contortionist”. Return of the pigout session at Sandsea (hmmm, methinks there is a recurring pattern here…)

Day 5:

Most of the group go off island hopping…. (fill in the blanks because I wasn’t there). Yours truly gets sea sick so I went climbing with Jason at Firewall where we met up with the other group of climbers and did: “For Hega”, “The Groove Tube” and “The Boob Tube”. I believe it was the earliest our crew has ever set out. Made a recce to Eagle wall to scout it out with Christina and Jason and entered the land of the mosquitos. With the low tide we managed to try “Stalagasaurus” and from all the commotion I made, you’d think I’d completed a 7A instead of a 6A route, although I did attempt “Cafe Andaman” failing miserably at the first bolt. We did our mad shopping at Cliff’sman and secured some generous discounts off our climbing t-shirts. Sharon arrives and we have a lovely dinner at Coco’s with all the mosquitos…

Day 6:

A boat ride to Railay – 70 baht

Accommodation at Diamond Cave – 700 baht

A picture of Mike Mor sleeping outside TexRoc shop – priceless!

Although Mike managed to get his revenge on the rest of us while we snoozed happily and unassumingly on the boat and van ride back to Hatyai… And he got us good too, from what I hear and it seems we all left ourselves “wide open” (mouths, nostrils, eyes…)

Having only one and half days left at Railay, our motley band of climbers decide it’s time to get down to business and do some serious climbing. Setting off early, not even the high tide could deter us from wading to Muai Thai Wall (one of the few walls accessible to climbing with the high tide). We deviated just long enough to do a spot of shopping at TexRoc and then we back on our mission. For the first time, we had all the gear out and almost everyone was either climbing or belaying (or brewing up some energy food and drink). It was a day of records for all, completing the most number of climbs and 6 of us completing the multipitch “Massage Secrets” (a different kind of preview of Thai massages to come). Jason, Kit and I enjoy some nice “pineapple sticks” in the cave at the top of “Massage Secrets” with some army goofing. Adrian rages up “We Sad”. Lai commits a gripping move at the crux of a 6B in Muai Thai wall. Su Chin takes a winger leading up on Muai Thai wall.

Jason, Kit, Chow and I scouted out Escher wall, Princess wall, and the famous and most beautiful Prah Nang beach. Chow fell in love with the place and decided to stay, while the three remaining trekkers continued our expedition to the anchor point above Thaiwon wall. We took several blind trails in the cave but made the abseil down Thaiwon wall with time to go for a dip in West Railay beach before our last and final dinner at Sandsea restaurant.

Day 7:

Adrian, Jason, Lai, Mike, Ooi, Derek, Su Chin and I set off early one goal in mind: to climb. We got waylaid at Sandsea buffet breakfast and ended up walking the tight rope outside Cliff’sman on a string of webbing attached to two palm trees. Most hilarious tightrope walker – Mike Mor (“Shake it up baby! Twist and shout!”). Must see: the digital video on Lelek’s camera. Most confident tightrope walker – no surprises here: Mr Loh. Mike’s revenge on the sleeping crew aboard the long boat and during the van ride – although Lelek decided to join in the fun and took a few happy snaps, too. Pigout and preliminary shopping at Hatyai followed by the nude massage session… (I only heard bits and pieces so I can’t fill in the gaps).

Day 8:

Shop ’til you drop (or run out of baht). Classic shopping experiences:

– Mike, Gan, Chow and I buy backpacks for 180 baht. Adrian talks to Mike over the walkie, hears 150 baht and convinces the shop owner that his friends bought their bags for 150 baht and manages to buy his for 150 baht. The rest of us curse.

– Kit spends all her money and starts spending Adrian’s (much to his woe, as we heard through the walkie).

– Can’t say I was any better. I spent all my money after visiting the first three shops and ended up borrowing money from Jason, Mike, Kit and Derek. Although, thinking I only had 120 baht in my purse, I managed to convince a lady to drop the price on a pair of shorts from 200 baht. Mysteriously, another 100 baht appeared out of nowhere when I was paying for the shorts. Nobody believes me, but I really, really thought I had 120 baht left.

The very long ride back home… Luckily this time, no one missed the train, although we had three near misses…

Lai and his border pass almost got left behind (again) because he overstayed his welcome in Thailand. Apparently he wasn’t supposed to stay longer than one week and he stayed eight days. He got through in the end after paying a RM 20 fine.

The other two near misses were Kit and I. During a particularly long pitstop, we jumped off the train to buy dinner and nearly lost the train after we got back. I kept telling the store people to hurry up and cook faster. I think I was practically looking over their shoulder as they were cooking. When he guy was packing the food, he was so slow, I wanted to take the food from him and do it myself. They kept telling me to sit down, but I was too anxious about missing the train.

Kit went off to buy something else and I couldn’t find her. I was frantically radioing back to the train to tell Adrian I couldn’t locate her. After raging through the stores like a headless chicken and causing enough commotion to raise the attention of some people in a nearby table, I finally found Kit and we half ran half hobbled (or rather, I half hobbled because my knee was hurting) back to the train.

We got to the platform and the train wasn’t there. At first we thought the train had left, but later found out from one of the staff that it had switched tracks. When we found it, I told Kit to get on the first carriage possible. Her reply was, “Can’t get on this one – it’s a cargo carriage.” We finally hopped on and walked all the way back through the train to the last carriage. I think it would have been faster had we gotten out and walked on the platform but neither of us wanted to take the risk of the train moving off without us so we endured the numerous door-opening and squeezing through narrow corridors.

To be continued… Krabi 2004: The return to Railay.

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