I will head to Ton Sai (a beach enclave) a short long tail boat ride, thirty minutes by water but a world away from any modern comforts such as WIFI, atms, hot water showers, the ubiquitous Thai 7-11. Electricity is available from 6 pm to 6 am, sometimes less. I pack a small backpack and leave my larger one in the hostel in Krabi town, the only item of value lingering being my blue sticky yoga mat, one that has more sentimental value than fiscal worth. It still smells of the days of Bikram yoga five years ago, a bit dank but well adored. I am certain the tranny staff at the hostel will watch over my bag, using whatever contents they may please. These ladies have the best legs in southern Thailand; perhaps they enjoy yoga too and will put my mat to good use.
I make one skype call before I leave to a dear sister. We experience miraculous healing work together as we chat, equally exchanging spiritual messages, chakra clearing, light. Without too much detail I will say…holy shit.
I leave my cosmopolitan existence by first riding in a tuk-tuk to Ao Nang beach for the long tail boat driver from Krabi town does not want to go to Ton Sai but only to Railey, the next beach over. From Ao Nang I am able to catch a boat ride to the proper enclave. The tide is low and I climb out of the boat, wading through the black rocks to the small strip of land. I happily have arrived, smiling back at the Bob Marley tapestry that hangs from one of the huts on the beach.
Ton Sai is a tiny area of white sand with thick forests of mangrove and coconut trees. Gray monkeys scramble through the vines as climbers hang from the limestone rocks. Everyone is seemingly scaling up something. There are a few bungalows on the beach as well as platform bars carved into the tree tops where loungers lay on colorful cushions under strings of paper lanterns and decorative shells. Some dangle from natural swings, others practice balancing on homemade slacklines. The energy is peaceful. All are extremely relaxed, in particular the Thai rastas who summon attention and offer bungalow accommodations, Chang beers, herbal treats, and traditional batik tattoos. I sit for a while and watch one artist dip the sharp bamboo wand into black ink and then rhythmically tap it into the arm of one lying on a beach-side cushion. The artist is covered with his own creations, countless tribal patterns coating his bare chest. Shirtless, tattooed, dreadlocks, and with a tail is the norm here in Ton Sai.
The entire reserve is the beachfront and one other strip of lodgings with attached eateries, which is a five minute walk through a muddy path. There are 10 or so options for crashing in total and I spring for a seemingly sumptuous option with white sheets. Mosquito netting is mandatory as is the love for crawly creatures to share ones hut. We are all friends.
Ton Sai is quiet, nearing the end of high season, and I am able to bargain the cost of the abode. The receptionist is as a high as a kite and exceptionally interested in chatting for a bit. I use a borrowed yoga mat as we converse; we are both either talking upside down or right side up. Our attention spans are equally quite messy and it is all too funny. A couple local buddies join my new friend, chewing on some leaf foraged locally. I ask what they are enjoying and laughter is returned for my innocence.
Back on the beachfront I hang with a rasta owner of a coffee joint/bar. He tells me I will stay in Ton Sai for one month. Not this month I reply but perhaps in the future. My brother questions if I care for Thai food in which I give a huge thumbs up. I do share that I am a vegetarian and he asks if I eat chicken. No good friend, no chicken. He points to a clay pot hanging from his hut, to the green plant that flows over, and I confirm that it is leaves that I eat. Indeed. I love myself some leaves.
It pours heavily as I sit at one of the outdoor restaurants for dinner, next to the open-air cooking station where patrons individually choose their desired catch and watch it grill. Slabs of barracuda, white and red snapper, shark, large prawns, varieties of crab, all sold by weight are waiting to be supped as are plump ears of corn and round potatoes. The man tending to the station feeds me countless complimentary rolls with the most incredible spicy cilantro tomato salsa as I watch him in awe. The love in Ton Sai is pervasive.