by Melinda Gallo

Railay beach

We decided to go to Railay beach, which is the second beach south of Ao Nang, today by long-tail boat. The beach in Ao Nang is nice, but we wanted to visit a nearby beach. We walked to the ticket booth and bought two roundtrip tickets for Railay beach. The cost per person was 160 bhat, which is a little more than 3 Euros.

Living in Florence :: Railay beach

Once we purchased our tickets, we stood in a shady area to wait for enough people, about 8 or so, to leave. The guys who drive the long-tail boats are sitting or lying down on the benches and wait for the right number of customers to arrive.

When we all get there, the guy waved at us and we follow him to the boat. I assumed that he would drag the long-tail boat onto shore so we wouldn't get wet, but instead we had to walk in about a foot or so of water to get on board.

The boat is long and seemed a bit rickety to me. I sat next to the life jackets, but noticed that the one nearest to me had half of the Styrofoam sticking out and the orange fabric was tattered and torn. I was only comforted by the fact that I read the word "blessing" on it.

Each time a person got on, the entire long-tail boat tipped over to one side and stopped just shy of getting water into the boat.

The driver of the long-tail boat walked along the outside edge and started the car engine that had been fitted onto the outside of the boat. Attached to the engine is a long shaft with a propeller on it. I noticed all the long pieces of colored fabric tied onto the front of the long-tail boat and assumed was auspicious. I was initially surprised to see a local pizza company's advertisement on the long-tail boat, but it made sense in that tourists take the long-tail boat and we'd all see it.

After a few seconds standing at the engine of the long-tail boat, the driver tried to communicate to us who had to move to balance out the weight of the boat. He turned us around and we headed to the next beach, which was around the peninsula.

Even though the air was hot and humid, it felt cool while we were on the boat. Sometimes water would splash up and it felt so refreshing when it hit our faces.

A young couple were on the boat with us and they had luggage with them. To get to their hotel on Railay beach, they decided to take the long-tail boat. It wasn't until I saw them that I realized how we too must have looked like newcomers yesterday.

I was wearing my swimsuit and a sun dress over it, flip-flops, no make-up, and my hair tied back. The other woman in the couple had nicely combed hair, fresh make-up, and wasn't dressed at all to get wet, which she did when she got onto the boat.

It was easy to spot the tourists. Of course, we were generally from Europe, the US, or Australia, but we all wore pretty much the same things: colorful fake Crocs that you could buy for about 3 Euros, cotton sun dresses that I recognized from most of the shops in town, and bathing suit tops. The locals, even though it was hot and humid, would be sporting long-sleeve shirts, light cotton sweaters, and long pants.

We found a spot in the shade to sit and took a swim in the ocean to cool off. While we were sitting on the beach, a young boy around 8 years old, lugged a cooler around and said, "Water? Drink?" He didn't wait for an answer from us and just continued walking along the beach. Another little boy came by a little later and picked up all the empty cans and bottles from people.

One woman walked past us a few times and asked us if we wanted a Thai massage. When I said no, she made some gestures to me about scrubbing my feet while she took one of my feet in her hand. I refused, but thanked her anyway.

To go back to Ao Nang, all we had to do was pull out our tickets and the boat driver came running toward us and pointed us in the direction of the next boat to leave.

This time I felt more comfortable on the boat and it wasn't just because the life preserver looked brand new, but the ride there went so well that I just knew we'd be fine.

Share your comments for this blog post on the Living in Florence's Facebook page. Grazie!