After Bangkok I took an overnight bus to Krabi. I was the only foreigner on the bus (why does that always happen to me) and I was almost left at the rest stop in the middle of nowhere at midnight. I came out of the bathroom and my bus was pulling away. The driver stopped after a Thai man realized I didn't belong in this parking lot and ran in front of the bus. It was quite a scene. Krabi town is a transport hub but the beaches nearby are what you'd expect picturesque Thailand to be. Limestone caves jet out over crystal blue water with sandy beaches only accessible by long tail wooden boats. Many movies have been filmed in this side of Thailand which also makes it overwhelmed by tourists. Railay beach is famous for rock climbing and you can climb up the limestone cliffs as high as you want and then drop back down into the water. When the tide was low we walked from the beach through the water by a sand bar to a small limestone cave in the middle of the ocean. Farther down is a fertility cave where locals bring penis wood carvings to offer the gods in exchange for fertility. Western fertility methods just dont seem as interesting in comparison with this penis cave.
After Krabi I took a ferry to the island of Koh Lanta where I found the closest thing to home at a small community located in the hostel, The Chill Out House. I originally decided to go to Lanta because its the least crowded island during the high season. And high season in Thailand is a zoo of young Aussie frat bros, banana hammock wearing Russians, families and various other types of travelers. It is so crowded here I really believe the tourism industry wreaks havoc on Thailand culture and environment. Koh Phi Phi, once on of the most beautiful, pristine islands in the world is now on the brink of environmental collapses, with tons of trash washing up on shore every week. A lot of it is plastic bags, bottles and cans. And how the Thais handle this gross mass of pollution? They pile it onto a ship, drive it out to the middle of the ocean and dump it back in. A week later, it comes back. So I decided not to contribute to Koh Phi Phis problems and headed to Lanta.
The community I encountered in Lanta was a hidden gem and the best I've found in Southeast Asia so far. It was probably because the owner of this hostel was from San Francisco, and she encouraged a relaxed and accepting environment. The hostel is built around and in trees, completely made out of wood and bamboo- basically a treehouse. Hammocks swing across the posts and guests sleep surrounded by crickets, frogs, birds and anything else the jungle provides. The owner is six months pregnant with a broken leg and mentioned she could use some help. I offered to help bartend in exchange for food and accommodation. The 20 or so guests staying here during this time were mostly people traveling on their own, and we quickly created a close family unit. We'd have group dinners and game nights, as well as plan activities during the days. I immediately understood why the reviews said you can get lost in the treehouse. It reminded me of the Lost Boys house from Peter Pan and I really didn't feel like growing up and moving out. Unfortunately the day has arrived, my Thai visa has expired and it is time for me to say goodbye to Thailand for now. Im off to Malaysia tomorrow!