Today was the best day. Literally. After all of our crazy once-in-a-lifetime adventures, going to the lagoon is number one on the list. We were told about the lagoon on our fist day here while talking to some people on the beach. They told us that it was by far their favorite experience on Railay Beach and that it was some crazy rock climbing. We all instantly wanted to do it! We have been wanting to go for a few days, but there has been rain in the forecast. Since the rocks get slippery when they are wet, we have waited, but today we just figured we had to go regardless because it hasn’t rained every day it said it would. The chances were pretty low and it was a beautiful morning, so we went for it!
We first made a quick stop at the viewpoint! Here you can see how skinny the peninsula is. It is less than a 10 minute walk between East and West Beach. We are staying on the East side which is the side closest to the right side of the screen. We are going to miss this beautiful place!
This hike is not for the faint of heart. It starts with a slope that is almost 90 degrees, straight up. There were ropes almost the entire way to help pull yourself up, but mostly it was just literal rock climbing. After we got past the first rock face, we all looked at each other and said, “This is so unreal!!” It wasn’t too hot and we were covered by the trees and foliage most of the time, but it was so humid that we were just dripping with sweat. It felt so good to get some solid exercise after a month of vacation! The lagoon is kind of right in the middle of one of the limestone cliffs, so we had to get to the top of it and then hike to the middle. It probably took an hour, so it was a decent hike!
After we got past the initial climb, it wasn’t as steep for a while and we were able to look around at all of the really cool trees and plants. It felt like we were hiking in the jungle because of all of the exotic plants surrounding us. We keep comparing this area to Gilligan’s Island- it is very similar and our childhood selves love it. Even though it wasn’t very steep at this point, there was mud covering the rocks and it was very slippery. After hiking for a little while, we came to our first rock face that we had to go down. It was literally straight down with a rope that you could use for assistance. Beth usually went down first and was able to help us find good footholds if we needed it.
There were four faces of various lengths that we had to climb down to get to the lagoon. A few of them had really good footholds the entire way and a few of them required us to do a little swinging or shimmying down the rope. It was so exhilarating and so so fun. After getting past our first face, we all took our shoes off which turned out being so awesome. It made a big difference when you were able to actually feel the rock beneath your feet and be able to grip with your toes. My feet are pretty scraped up, but it was so worth it!
When we got to the second to last face, we were able to see a hint of the lagoon through the trees. None of us had looked up what it looked like, so we were all really curious to see what we were hiking to. We were having so much fun climbing that whatever the lagoon looked like was just going to be a bonus!
When we made it past our last face, we had to just climb down a little slope before we finally got to the lagoon. We were all just covered in mud. The ropes were all full of mud as well as all of the rocks that we were climbing down. We didn’t mind because it made us look pretty legit!
When we finally made it down to the lagoon, it took our breath away. It was as if God just drilled a hole in the middle of this limestone cliff and filled it with water. The limestone walls were towering around us and covered in trees. The water was so clear and the same beautiful blue-green color of the ocean. There were so many colors in the rock and in the trees, my eyes didn’t even know where to look! It is really hard to describe and the pictures don’t do it justice, but it is for sure the most beautiful place I have ever been. It was a little piece of heaven that I am so thankful I was able to see.
Getting back to our hiking and outdoor roots made us so happy, but one of the best parts of today was that we were alone for most of it. Feeling like you are the only people in the world in such unique place was an amazing experince. Because we went so early, we just missed the rush of people and we will forever be thankful for that. It definitely would have been a different experience with a bunch of people there. Comparing today to our tour, I am going to try as hard as I can in the future to experince wherever I go independently. Having the freedom to do what you want is worth the extra coordinating. Also, I would recommend trying to experience things on your own. For example, going bamboo rafting without a guide or going “rock climbing” on our own was awesome. (Obviously, as long as it is safe) I am not sure how possible this is in the US, but if possible, the freedom makes the experience even more special.
Because we came during high tide, we were able to swim! We spent about an hour just swimming around and enjoying the view. We were just trying to soak it all in and imprint what we were seeing into our memories. We came at the beginning of high tide, so the longer we swam, the deeper the water got. Beth and I could only touch on our tip toes and it was a struggle for all four of us to tread water in such close proximity to take a picture:)
After we couldn’t touch anymore, we decided it was time to make our way back. Of course we brought peanut butter sandwiches to refuel, and after eating a quick lunch, we began our ascent. Climbing up is way easier than climbing down, but it still took a little while to get up each rock face. Because this trip is a trip of extremes, going back traditionally was not an option. We literally climbed up the small slope to the first rock face and it started to sprinkle. There were so many trees that we barely felt it, so we just brushed it off. However, about a minute later it started to downpour. We were instantly drenched. Because the rocks were going to be slippery regardless of if we went while it was raining or afterward, we just continued on! Even though this was probably dangerous, it never felt unsafe. The rocks provided really steady footholds and we were all able to climb up and down pretty easily.
The rain actually washed away some of the mud that was on the rocks, so it wasn’t even that slippery! The rope did get really slick, so we all were extra careful and made sure we had a solid hold and footing before we changed positions. The hardest part was that the pouring rain made almost little waterfalls down the rocks, so we were getting drenched in rain as well as a mud waterfall which made it a little difficult to see. However, we all made it with no problems! Even though it was so fun hiking to the lagoon, the rain added another element and just took the experience to the next level. It was by far the coolest thing I have ever done and will be such a special memory.
One of the biggest lessons that I have learned about traveling this trip is the importance of finding people who travel similar to you. It was a gift that we all were so excited to rock climb with zero experince and thought that the rain made the day even better. Even having one person who was different would have changed the entire day and the trip in general. Also, we all enjoy some downtime, so it is nice that we all can appreciate just reading our books for a few hours. The moral of the story is to make sure that you know whether or not you and your travel partners are compatible because if you are not, it could lead to drama, resentment, and a lot of frustration. I can’t say enough how awesome my travel partners are:)
The photo above is what the beginning (and the end) of the hike looks like. As we emerged, just drenched and muddy, there were a lot of people curious about where we came from. You come out onto one of the main paths, so we were able to share our story and gave some tips to people that were just starting the hike. Of course, it stopped raining as soon as we were done. We were so dirty! We walked back to our resort and dropped off our wet electronics before we ran to the beach to rinse off. Having the ocean so close is something I could get used to!
After our busy morning, we spent a few hours reading and lounging at the pool. My toes needed some cleaning up, so Laura was finally able to say that she wasn’t the one that needed medical attention:) We then went to dinner at our resort! They were offering a special, so we decided to check it out. You can only eat so many peanut butter sandwiches. We finally got to have some pork again! The ribs were good, but nothing compared to Randy’s!
The photo below is a perfect example of how cats rule the world in Thailand. There are so many of them everywhere! They just roam around and lay where they please. I have almost stepped on cats so many times! These cats are not cute either; they are dirty and just have a weird look about them. Personally, I don’t enjoy cats, so I won’t miss this part of Thailand.
Tomorrow is our last day here! I can’t believe that our adventure is coming to an end. We are hoping to just soak it all in and savor every moment before we begin our trek home. I am not sure what I am going to do when I don’t get to have a once-in-a-lifetime adventure everyday!