We braved a final journey to Ao Nang for our last day. We woke early, had a quick breakfast and took the longtail boat to Ao Nang. Before we did anything else, we spotted the longtail boatman who brought us home two nights ago and arranged with his friend to pick us up at 8.30pm for 800 baht. There isn’t any surcharge, that’s actually the cost of chartering the whole boat which normally costs 100 baht per passenger. Sure it made me feel better.
Then we headed back to the same agency to rent a car. We found out that all the cars in town had been hired and all we were left with was a Suzuki C – a mini pickup. We tried other agencies who either were also out of cars or refused to rent one to us without our passport.
After more than a hour of pointless negotiation and searching, we settled for the pickup which was rather cramp for the four of us. At least it costs us only 850 baht. So off we went to our first stop – the Giant Catfish Farm which is located about 15minutes NW of town, near the Nosey Parker.
1. Giant Catfish Farm
The farm is managed by an elderly American and it was rather strange for me to find someone like her in the rural part of Thailand. The entrance fee for the farm is only a paltry 20 baht per person to pay for the fish feed. And this was really money well spent especially if you have kids. The farm is built like an adventure part with bridges, dirt tracks and muddy rivers filled with exotic edible fishes.
Within 5 minutes from the entrance, we came upon the first catfish pond and we threw the fish feed into it. The catfishes lunged at them, opening their toothless mouths as wide as they can. The competition for the pellets was so fierce that they were literally clambering on top of one another, taking no heed that they are fully out of the water. It was quite a sight to behold. The farm also has a small collection of really furry and cute bunnies in contrast to three pathetic crocodiles.
2. Ao Luk
After lunch, we took a drive northwards with hopes to explore some limestone caves. An hour or so drive out, we turned out when we saw a sign directing to Tham Hua Kalok or “Big Skull Cave”. I read about it in the guidebooks which have prehistoric cave paintings. Given my magnetic attraction to all things historical, I shortlist this one from a map dotted with at least 20 caves.
I realized upon arrival that this is one of the tour attractions (Ao Luk) which I could have booked from the comforts of my hotel room. Whatever. The person in charge told me that since I made my own way here, he could give us a discount. I was thrilled until I found out that canoeing down the river was involved. What a bummer! Although he assured me the waters are neither deep nor rushing, we decided not to risk it.
3. Khao Phanom Bencha National Park
So we made a detour and drove back towards Krabi for another hour. Since we still had time, I convinced my hubby to bring us to Khao Phanom Bencha National Park to take a look at a waterfall. The turnout to the national park is about 10 minutes drive from Krabi town and another 30 minutes through the dusty small road. You can also visit the Tiger Cave Temple from here, but since we were short of time, the waterfall was more interesting.
When we finally arrived, the lady informed us that the national park is closed to visitors. You cannot imagine the disappointment that flashed across my face. It was 4pm and operation hours stated that it closed at 4.30pm. I couldn’t quite understand what she was telling me as I was feeling desperate by now – I only wanted to see the waterfall! I drove all the way here! Look at my children! It won’t take too long! She finally relented. I think she must have said under her breath – it’s your life. Don’t blame me if you get into trouble.
From the entrance to the waterfall is an easy 15 minutes trek which we all enjoyed. It was like discovering an old love all over again. I really love trekking through parks! So when I saw the slippery stone steps that led all the way to the pool before the waterfall, it didn’t occur to me how dangerous it was and insisted that we climb all the way up there. Joel was really of good cheer to dare it on his own. My boy is all so grown up already! Between Theo and I, we carried Elizabeth from boulder to boulder.
After 10 minutes of concentrated effort and family teamwork, we arrived at our destination and enjoyed the view of the seven-tiered Huay Toi waterfall. It is not majestic in comparison with the many other great waterfalls but very well worth the adventure as a family.
4. Krabi Town
Then we packed off to Krabi for dinner and by courtesy, the restaurant owner screened ‘The Beach’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Well at least I managed a glimpse at Phi Phi Island. After dinner we took a stroll along the stretch of Khongkha Road that meets Chaofa Road. Every night, there is a small night market here with several stalls dishing out local delicacies at very cheap prices.
Our driver missed out one piece of our luggage when we arrived at Krabi International airport. Thankfully we still had time so he double-backed to the pier to find it. It was apparently left on the longtail boat that ferried us from Railay. I was only thankful that it was still there.
And so that wrapped up our five-day adventure in Krabi. Like the family vacation in France and Italy, it is a constant struggle between what would have made it a fulfilling trip for me and what was realistic for a family with two young children in toll. I guess it will be a conflict until they (all three of them) are all relatively independent.
The least I can do is to inculcate a love for travel, an appreciation for nature, an acceptance of different cultures and a thirst for adventure in my children.