The morning came too soon harbouring more signs of a rainy day. What a bummer. We took an excruciating long time to get ready and have our breakfast. By the time we got to Ao Nang, no doubt by longtail boat again, it was near 11am.
We rented a Toyota Vios for 1,100 baht which really is quite a steal. According to the assistant, prices increase by about 200 baht or so during the peak period. One really has to count the cost of visiting the Andaman Sea during peak and off-peak period.
During the peak period (November to April) –
1. Prices increase whether it is flight, accommodation, car rental, food and these things quickly add up!
2. The beaches and towns become crowded with tourists.
3. You get the sun all day which means being able to get things done without becoming soaked in the rain.
4. Some previously cut off islands are now accessible with calmer waters.
5. The peak period also coincides nicely with the annual festivities of Loy Krathong and Songkram.
During off-peak period (May to October) –
1. Everything is cheaper which means getting a holiday for a bargain.
2. The beaches are all for grabs and you don’t have to squeeze with rowdy tourists.
3. It rains, rains and rains. But you get at least 6 hours of sunshine everyday, according to the books and my personal experience) so you have to plan your activities very precisely.
4. You cannot visit islands where boats or ferries do not service during off-peak period.
5. There are other Thai festivities that take place during this period but probably not as fun for the visitor.
So you decide for yourself when is a better time to visit.
We took the Vios and went our way, having only a free Krabi guide map to lead us. As the area is relatively small, Theo was able to navigate the roads like a local in no time. First stop to Nosey Parker’s for an elephant ride. We paid a total of 1,600 baht for two adults and two children to sit on an elephant for one hour and trudge through the outskirts of a rubber plantation.
The experience was quite daunting, having never been quite this high up from the ground before and at the mercy of these huge beasts that weigh 4,000 kg! The really nervy part of this experience was when the elephants were descending into the river or some small slope. As there were no seat belts, we hung on as tightly as we could so as not to slip out.
I was silently proud of my children who were fearless of the elephants and particularly enjoyed the ride. On hindsight, I would have never paid the equivalent of S$70 for the elephant ride in Singapore. Strange the things we are willing to spend on when overseas.
The remainder of our day was overcast by the monsoonal downpour that rendered all outdoor activities quite unachievable with two young kids. So we had to content with driving around the area. We visited the Fossil Graveyard where for 200 baht you can witness slabs of fossilized shells collected over 70 million years! This phenomenon can only be seen in three places around the world.
I also sneaked out to visit the nearby Marine Life Breeding Centre while the children napped in the car. Entrance is free and one is treated to tanks after tanks of marine life that can be seen in the Andaman Sea. The breeding of various species of clown fishes are particularly favored. I didn’t ask but I doubt you can purchase them.
When we got back to Ao Nang it was close to 6pm and there was only one longtail boat sighted near the shore tossing about in the choppy sea and rain. I asked the driver if he could wait for us till 8pm but he was already getting ready to go home. Given the weather, it is not likely there would be other boats coming. Not wanting to risk another late night rescue, we cut short our stint in Ao Nang and paid the 800 baht trip back.
Both Theo and I were feeling pretty sour about the travel arrangements by now – the incessant cold and wet weather, having to return the rented car early and not being able to spend a decent night out in town.