December 4 – 11, 2019
We spent 3 weeks in three different locations in south Thailand – 7 days in Ao Nang (Krabi), 8 days on Koh Phi Phi (Koh means island in Thai) and 6 days on Koh Lanta.
This post is only about our first week in Ao Nang.
I wasn’t impressed at first, comparing our usual seaside experience with Croatia or Greece. The water is pretty nice, clear and warm but the rest of the experience is quite different than our typical expectations of the seaside. That was my first impression but it quickly changed from ‘yeah, it’s ok here’ to ‘omg, this is heavenly, I love Thai beaches and Thai islands’.
In Ao Nang, we stayed in a decent hotel but again, a small room with one bunk bed for Petra and Nina and 1 king-size bed for Pedja, Maki and me. There was not much floor space but we did have a nice balcony.
We arrived in Ao Nang after half a day of travel. Any time the airline is involved, it takes a lot of travel time (taxi to the airport 2 hrs before departure, flight from Bangkok to Krabi, transfer from Krabi airport to Ao Nang). All in all, almost 5-6 hrs of travel.
By the time we arrived to Ao Nang, my small scrape I got in Bangkok from that bike fall started to look a bit worrisome (redness expanded past the mark around the original infection I made earlier in the day ). Based on prior experience with Nikola, I knew that this was called cellulitis and I needed antibiotics. Thank goodness for the great and affordable medical service in Thailand (everywhere but the US) because within 45 minutes, I got to see a doctor, my infection was cleaned and bandaged, I got antibiotics on the spot and paid the bill of only $70. A few days later (and no swimming during that time), I was back to normal.
Nikola’s food choices expended while in Thailand. He discovered he likes gyoza (Japanese dumplings). He associates it with Thailand and not with Japan. Since we ate in restaurants most often during our stay in Thailand, Nikola got into a habit of looking carefully over a menu and oftentimes, picking something totally out of the left field. The first night we were in Ao Nang, he ordered squid for dinner and we were skeptical that he was actually going to eat it. However, once the food arrived, he suddenly screamed with such excitement that the whole restaurant heard him.
He was yelling “This food belongs to a group of cephalopods!!!!”.
I gotta admit that Petra, Pedja and I immediately picked up our phones to find a definition of cephalopods. I even looked for the translation of cephalopods to Serbian but before Google gave me the answer, Nina spit it out himself. He knew how cephalopods were called in Serbian too. He is our walking encyclopedia.
Maksim also attempted to use some of his Serbian, usually when he thought he needed to smooth something over with us. His Serbian is really not grammatically correct but it’s cute as heck!
We took a day trip to a nearby island and saw some heavenly sites, the views you only see in travel magazines – crystal clear waters, beautiful views, picturesque backdrops. While on this excursion, I was snorkeling with Nina when he said: “While in Greece, I stepped on a sea hedgehog” (sea urchin = sea hedgehog – makes total sense!)
Nina loves swimming, it’s probably his favorite activity. He loves pools way more than beaches. His resistance to beaches has to do with his dislike of sand. He loved that we had a swimming pool in Ao Nang.
While in Ao Nang, Pedja and I lost our Google Fi data service. Google Fi changed its policy that its international data roaming can only be used outside of the US for 6 months before they switch it off. We spent hours and hours on the phone with them over the next 3 weeks trying to fix it. That’s exactly how long it took to get an exception to let us keep our international data roaming for the rest of our travel. We finally got it and it was a huge win for us! Huge!!!
Maki did a lot of school work in Ao Nang. We would park in the hotel lobby, at the bar and he would practice typing or writing essays with hotel staff stopping by from time to time to check out his work. We also did some arts and crafts to help set up a paper Xmas tree in the hotel lobby.
I researched local volunteer opportunities and came across Trash Hero. Google says that the Trash Hero is “an energetic, volunteer-led movement that drives change within communities around the world, motivating and supporting them to clean and prevent plastic waste.” We spent a couple of hours cleaning a mangrove forest about an hour north of Ao Nang. We got to meet the people that started this local chapter. That day, 288 volunteers including 148 kids picked up 842kg of trash from the roadside, the pier and the mangrove forest. Nina loved this event, he insisted we get him a Trash Hero t-shirt, which we later did. It was a super hot day but the activity was truly rewarding. We decided that we would repeat it again on our next two beach locations, on Phi Phi and Lanta. Petra put together a 15-second video of this event and started a school paper on the subject of sustainability and the benefits of second-hand clothing. This event was a motivation for this particular essay topic because during our clean up, we mostly picked up used clothing that was stuck in the mud and mixed with all the garbage.
The best part of our time in Ao Nang was celebrating Petra’s 14th birthday. When traveling, you can’t celebrate birthdays with friends or buy big presents. Instead, your gift is an experience. In reality, this whole journey is one huge present (of a lifetime) for all of us. For Petra’s birthday, we gifted her a half-day private rock-climbing class. She was especially happy that this was not a whole family event because her brothers were driving her nuts and she was happy to have some time to herself. It turned out to be a perfect present for her. She loved the activity, the location was superb (famous Railay beach) and it was topped with the surprise birthday decorations of her bed back at our hotel (organized by the hotel staff). It was a perfect day in every way.
A day after we celebrated Petra’s birthday, it was time to move again. We took a ferry to Koh Phi Phi and spent the next 8 days there.