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#1407 - 01/14/01 08:47 PM 3 weeks in paradise (Thailand)
Steve Y. Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 11/16/99
Posts: 268
Loc: Philadelphia, USA
Three weeks in paradise
A group of five of us just got back from Thailand’s Phra Nang Peninsula. We went from 12/25/2000 to 1/12/2001. This is during the high (dry) season, Nov –May. The weather was typically around 85 to 90 degrees F. You definitely had to climb in the shade, even then I’ve never sweated so much before. It only rained twice when we were there, mostly at night. Since most of the walls are overhanging, it’s possible to climb in passing showers. The rock was also such that a little wet didn’t affect the friction, very unlike the Gunks. We did most of our research and booking through a local climber by the name of King. His website www.railay.com was very helpful. He is also the author of the only English only guidebook, King Climbers Route Guide Book. The guide is a must although mine is out of date, 3rd ed. 1999. The guide book uses the French system which compared with the YDS is soft in the lower grades. A French 5 covers a YDS 5.6 to 5.8, French 6a – YDS 5.9, French 6a+ YDS 5.10-, 6b YDS 5.10, 6b+ YDS 5.10+, 6c YDS 5.11-, 6c+ YDS 5.11 etc. Since I didn’t do anything harder than a 6c+ I’ll stop there. We found that the French rating did not correspond to Gunk’s ratings till about 6b. A French 5 felt like a Gunk’s 5.5 and most 6a’s felt like a Gunk’s 5.7 to 5.8. A few 6b’s were easier than a Gunk’s 5.10 but after that the ratings felt right on. The rock is this beautiful limestone with great friction and pockets. It reminded me most of El Potero Chico except overhanging. Everything is dead vertical to seriously overhanging. As a Gunkie I found the sustained nature of the climbing difficult and did a fair share of resting on bolts. It wasn’t so much that the moves were hard, they weren’t, it’s just rests were hard or impossible to come by. Despite some heresy of bad bolts, the bolts were visibly all good. Some of the climbs had threads of dynamic rope as pro, but most of these are slowing being replaced by bolts. Most of the climbs I did had two bolts at every clip because they are replacing standard bolts with rust-resistant glue-in bolts. The anchors were more disconcerting typically consisting of 3 to 6 bolts or threads strung together with a mass of webbing, cord, rope and very worn opposing aluminium biners. I left some cord and a biner a couple of times because I wasn’t happy with the anchors. They recommend a donation to the local climbing community of 20 baht per person per day for bolts. (About 50 cents, I’ll give US prices based on 40 baht per dollar at the time from now on. The prices also reflect high season prices as opposed to off-season) Our gear except for the obvious consisted of 14 quickdraws a few Screamers for the threads, a 60M rope and a couple of Motorola radios. We bought a bamboo mat and woven welcome mat for a couple of bucks. You need them. You climb off the beach and sand gets everywhere. The climbs we did based on the guide’s French system and 4 star quality rating:

One Two Three Wall
Make a way, 6b, 3 star
Orientales, 6b+, 1 star
Massage secrets, 6a+, 4 star
Short & Savage, 6b, 1 star

Low Tide Wall
A walk in the park, 6a
The Narsilion, 6c+, 4 star

Defile Exit Wall
Baboon’s ass, 6b
Monkey gone to heaven, 6b

Thaiwand Wall
Primal Scream, 6a+, 1 star
Solution 41, 6b+, 1 star
Mala Mujer, 6b, 2 star
The King and I, 6b, 2 star and 6a,4 star (4 pitch climb)

Wee’s Present Wall
Hello Christine, 6a+, 2 star
Same Same, but different, 6b+, 2 star

Dum’s Kitchen
Rod yaak, 6b, 1 star
Pahn taalod, 6a

Fire Wall
6a+, not in guide
The Groove tube, 6a, 4 star

Ao Nang Tower
Orange Chandeliers, 6b

Orange Chandeliers doesn’t get any stars, but where else to you get to climb out of a boat to get on the climb. It was definitely wild. The Motorola radios were handy especially around the peninsula. There are several ways to get to the peninsula. First you have to fly to Bangkok. Our flight booked 6 months in advance was a little over a thousand dollars per person from Newark and was fairly direct. Flights on China Airlines from $700 are available. We decided to go with an American airlines for the added comfort. After a night in Bangkok, you need to fly to Phuket or Krabi for $50 or $150 respectively. In Bangkok we stayed at the very convenient but expense ($175- $200) Amari Airport Hotel that you walk to. Once in Phuket it’s a $50 2 ½ hr taxi ride to Ao Nang then a 15 minute $1 per person long-tail boat ride to Railay beach. From Krabi airport, it’s a 15 minute $7.50 taxi into town then a 50 minute $1.75 per person long-tail boat ride to Railay Beach or a 1 ½ hr $20 taxi to Ao Nang. From Krabi it was possible to hire a whole boat to Railay without waiting for other passengers for about $12.50. Let me digress and say it is possible to get around much cheaper by taking buses and/or hard bargaining. But, since we are all more or less YUPPIES we did what is easiest based on that. Some key phrases for hard bargaining: ‘Tao rai’ – How much. No matter what they say, say ‘pang pie’ and screw up your face like you just ate a lemon, which means ‘too much’. Then say ‘Lot die my’ which means give me a discount. You should be able to get a little knocked off the price of just about anything. We got this advice from an English flight attendant living in Bangkok married to a Thai woman and it was good advice. You are always given a western tourist price first and even though it is cheap by American standards, you should try to bargain to hold down inflation. Once in Railay there are about 11 different places to stay from a tent for about $1 nights all the way to a 5 star resort hotel for $300 a night. I stayed in a bungalow with a ceiling fan, shower, flushing toilet and fresh towels every night for $20 a night that was nice for 2 people or crowded with 3. Another couple stayed in a nice air-conditioned room with a mini-bar for about $35 a night. Finding a place to stay was difficult for people without advanced reservation. The rooms didn’t have the same value. Meals were about $4 per person and that was including drinks, an appetizer and dessert. Each place to stay had it’s own restaurant associated with it. The food was basically all the same. Railay Village Resort had the best food. If you like Thai food it was all good. It tends toward spicy but blander food was available. The have some western food, burgers and Italian etc, but their attempt at it wasn’t very good. I stuck to the seafood, which was caught fresh daily for the most part. Service is extremely laid back. If you expect to get all your food at once think again. Most of the time we felt lucky to be getting our meals at all. It's also possible to check e-mail on the peninsula. About 4 different places had internet access for about 12 cent a minute. I spent an average of $1.50 checking e-mail and sending short notes. Just about everyone we dealed with spoke and understood enough english to understand what we wanted. We only spoke Thai because we wanted to. Toward the end I didn't bother and just spoke english. If anyone wants more detail, drop me a line.


Edited by webmaster on 2/1/01 10:13 AM.


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#1408 - 03/19/01 08:38 AM Re: 3 weeks in paradise (Thailand) [Re: Steve Y.]
Anonymous
Unregistered


Just a quick note to anyone planning to come down here to Phra-Nang someday. If you are planning to do some multi-pitch climbing on the Thaiwand Wall which overlooks West Railay Beach, you might want to think about being sure to climb on a fat rope and to bring some tri-cams. Yesterday, while attempting to climb a route on the Thaiwand Wall called Circus Oz (7A/5.11bc) we got off route onto Lord of the Thais (7B/5.12a). The 7A part of Circus Oz was supposed to be easy 7A. The route we got onto was not. Needless to say we got spanked pretty good but managed to eventually make our way back onto our route. A rather long, but easy, unprotected traverse was required. I would have loved to have had a set of tri-cams to both protect the traverse and to beef up some of the infrequently used and not as well maintained upper acnhors. At one point I thought I was going to have to Z-pulley my climbing partner Senja through a 7B move. I was much less than keen on the idea of exerting that kind of force on a 9.4 mill rope as it scraped back and forth across the sharp rock of the unplanned traverse, hence the fat rope recommendation. Lastly, be aware that the drawing of some of the upper Thaiwand Wall in the guidebook is not very accurate. Most routes here are single pitch and tri-cams and beefy ropes and route finding skills are entirely unnecesarry, but if you go up on that wall, be advised. OK, today is a rest day and I have to get back to the topless beach, and the sparkling blue 88 degree water, and the spectacular limestone.

Kent


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