Ode To Thailand, Part 1, Ko Lao Liang
I picked Thailand kind of on a whim. I was nearing mid year 2013 and thinking about how desperately I needed a vacation and how desperately I wanted to get out of the country. Except all my friends had no vacation left, which meant I was going to be doing the loner trip. I like the idea fundamentally, but I've never really gone anywhere overseas on my own. So I signed up with a guide group from the UK, Rock and Sun, on a climbing trip going to Thailand for 2 weeks in December. Seemed like the best of both worlds. I needed a belay, and didn't want to be entirely alone on my trip. Booked and Done. The trip, however, was much more than I ever imagined.
Try to imagine the perfect island. Imagine perfect weather, beaches, and scenery. Now imagine that this island allows you to sleep practically on the beach, someone cooks meals for you every day, there is a small bar to relax at night, and oh... there is kick ass climbing a few steps from your tent. That is Ko Lao Liang.
It wasn't exactly easy getting to Ko Lao Liang, you see, it started in America... I left LA and flew to China, in China I connected to another plane that took me to Bangkok (BKK), but the next day I needed to fly out of the OTHER Bangkok airport (DMK). I pointed at my print off from hotels.com to my taxi driver, and him and another taxi person argued for a bit about where I was asking them to go, then I just hopped in the car and hoped for the best. Several hundred Baht later (I think they ripped me off a bit, oh well) I stayed over night at a fairly nice hotel, got my first thai massage, and next morning took Bangkok DMK to Trang where I was supposed to meet my new climbing partners for the next couple weeks. At the Trang airport, 4 of us got in a van with a guy holding a Ko Lao Liang sign, and he dropped us off at a cafe in Trang and told us to wait and drove off with our bags. We all thought, shit, I hope that was the right guy. But finally he came back, and we drove here (below) to this boating area, where we would then take a 40 minute boat ride to Ko Lao Liang...
Doesn't sound worth it? It was.
These boats are not unique to this area, they seem to be everywhere in Thailand... but they are still cool.
Right off the bat I met two awesome ladies, Stephy and Vicky. Stephy was just traveling around Thailand and Vicky was part of our group and my soon to be "room" tent mate, and soon to be kick ass climber.
I took maybe one million boat trip photos on the way to the island, but I will spare you. It was gorgeous. It felt like a movie. The island was so isolated.
When we got off the boat, we met Trevor (our guide) and Des (his kick ass girlfriend and second guide), ate some lunch, learned the rules of the island...
Then we basically got straight to climbing. Tufas everyyyywheree. This route below is called Dragons King.
Our accommodations were quite frankly 5 star in my book... right on the beach... 10 steps from the crag. It doesn't get much better than that.
The route directly below is called Chasing Fish.
And this one I believe is X-site three.
Since we intended to get some lead practice in, Trevor had us clipping ropes over and over which each hand.
And practicing cleaning an anchor.
The days were super chill on the island. We'd sleep in, eat breakfast, relax, climb, eat lunch, climb, shower, eat dinner, and drink at the bar until we were ready to pass out and start all over again. I got to try all the different Thai beers here at the bar (which if I am being honest all taste like Coors Lite to me), and we kept account of our tabs in a notebook at the bar and just paid at the end of our stay.
There were these schools of fish that would swim close to the shore. If you were really careful, you could go in between them and they would swim all around you. I did it once, and it was magical.
One of the days we got to go on a boat to another part of the island to do some deep water soloing.
Believe it or not, this is what we climbing folk call fun. The only not so fun part about deep water soloing is if you happen to land wrong in the water... then it kind of hurts a bit... but not enough to keep you from trying again.
I "smartly" chose the swimsuit that makes me look like I'm soloing naked (WOO THAILAND !#!@#!), but no, not really, I was dumb, I should've worn a sports bra here.... for all you ladies considering your next soloing trip.
A pair of shitty shoes is also recommended so that you don't get your other ones wet.
And this happened on the drive back. A little Kayak surfing off the back of the boat.
View from up top of a route.
This one day a man on the island suffered we think a heart attack while swimming out at sea that afternoon. None of us really knew him that well, and he came to the island alone, but that night we had moment of silence for him, and threw a big going away party for him in celebration of his life. We all liked to think he chose Ko Lao Liang as his final destination.
Needless to say, 10+ Mai Thais later, and we were somehow convinced to attempt a human pyramid.
Lots of dancing, and drinking... on an island... isolated... it was an excellent night.The kind of thing that doesn't happen very often. The kind of bonding moments you wish you could remember better. Oh booze.
The sun rises and another beautiful day begins in Ko Lao Liang.
The climbing was excellent and there weren't too many people to hassle with.
Trevor was an excellent guide as well, constantly making me push my limits, and giving me the confidence I needed to have some balls and lead a route here and there.
And evening once again. Starting to get a good idea of this charmed life?
Such is Ko Lao Liang.
Boat back to Trang to catch a van to our next destination... Ao Nang.
I could've stayed on that island, with those people, for a very long time. It was exactly everything I wanted and needed in that point in my life.
Some projects took me longer than others, and some climbs I lead, and some I toproped... to name a few: - Johann (6a+) -Dragon's Den (5) -lead -Dragon's King (5) -lead -Chasing Fish (6a+) -Czech it Out (5) -lead -X-site Three (5 to 6b) -Captin Thin (6b+)
I will come back here some day. I'll bring someone special, and share this place with them. This was my favorite place in Thailand.