I never though I’d find myself in Krabi again, but I did. And did so for a few short days filled to the brim with diving and climbing…with some backbreaking, painfully agonising Thai traditional massages in between that left me more bruised than diving or climbing every did.
Wanting to do something new each time I dive, I opted to try the PADI digital underwater course with The Dive Ao Nang. The course itself was a disappointment (apart from the bits that taught white balance in the water and the effect of colours at depth) and the dive sites (at Phi Phi) were abysmal with visibility that was no better than mushy soup. But as always, every guide instructor/guide I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting has had the most unusual and esoteric stories of their lives I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. Liz – short for Lertlid Trzop – a Thai/German guy who’s worked in filmmaking for two decades pretty much tops the list and has load to say about camera techniques, composition and the price of camera housing. He simply concluded – given the horrendous price of the housing – that underwater photography is either for the filthy rich or the professionals.
The climb with Real Rocks on the other hand, was a novelty for me, more so for someone who has only climbed indoors. A short boat trip from Ao Nang to Railay seemed to open a door to another portal where backpackers slum it up next to a few luxury resorts and trawl the beach in as little beachwear as possible, oblivious to the stares and ogling of everyone else.
In Railay, climbing shops (and seedy massage parlours that supposedly offer rock-climb rub-downs) range from excellent to dingy to the nth degree. We obediently followed our guides – whose shortened names sounded as interchangeable as lock, stock and barrel – and started panicking at the look of the vertical faces. Someone threw a tantrum a few metres up, wailing about being forced to go on a climb when she didn’t want to, which was probably enough entertainment for the day that had even barely started.
I’m not quite convinced outdoor climbing is for me yet, seeing how I’m quite a joke in the indoor gym. But perhaps it’s the greater sense of it being risk that I can’t quite fully manage or control that’s unsettling me. That there are those who go straight to rock climbing as rank beginners without trying sports climbing first is astounding to me.
But it’s a baby step out of my comfort zone and one that’s hopefully getting me braver.