In this age of constant communication, the notion of being unplugged and out of the loop is fast disappearing. At the risk of sounding Neanderthal and (heaven forbid) out of touch, we’re no longer content to be silently bathed in the glow of a molten sunset or to trek through the white dawn of a tropical rainforest alone.
It’s now imperative that we share everything – with everyone – as it’s happening!
I’ve seen them, lounging by a pool on a South Pacific island surrounded by a million square kilometers of ocean or trekking in a Bornean jungle, the smart phone and tablet always on hand ready to record and report – instantaneously. Space invaders, loudly chatting on Skype, over-sharing rather than keeping treasured memories to themselves.
Spas are almost the last bastions of peace and quiet – no customized ring tones allowed – and in Rayavadee’s gracious spa rooms at Thailand’s Railay Bay, it’s easy for couples to ‘consciously connect’ with themselves and each other. Relaxing under experienced hands, cares drift away, evaporating with every gesture.
Unlike the tapping and swiping on electronic gadgetry, it’s the laying of hands, touch administered with gentle care by one human to another, that’s true connectivity making spa treatments universally beneficial whether a featherweight facial or tough love untying knotted neck muscles.
Set on the edge of Krabi’s National Marine Park in the heart of Phranang Peninsula 800kms south of Bangkok, a region renown for its stunning limestone cliffs, Railay Bay is the perfect spot to unplug from the communications loop and ramp up the personal travel experience.
Surrounded by lush foliage to explore, towering cliffs to climb and three powder-fine sandy beaches lazily caressed by the Andaman’s Sea’s emerald waters to dip in and under, it’s ideal for both the active and indolent. This recorded message tells you why!
Press 1 for Adventure
Throughout the day, people garlanded with climbing harnesses and ropes stroll along the west beach heading for the dramatic karst limestone formations that loom over the Andaman Sea.
Beginners start with a 30m climbing wall while for the experienced, and with more than 700 climbing routes on hand, the sky’s the vertical limit. A track leading to East Beach attracts night rock climbers who meet at the thatched-roof Ya-Ya Bar. Visitors can book their climbing expedition at one of the many outlets along Walking Street.
To Float your Boat, Press 2
Long tail boats and cruisers throb along the waterfront on Railay Bay’s west side where day trippers sit on a curve of fine vanilla sand awaiting the 9am departure. A better idea is wait until 3pm and rent your own long tail, a gaily painted traditional wooden Thai boat.
As the day trippers are returning, this is an idyllic time to cruise the islands to swim and snorkel in glittering jade waters.
Or simply slide into a kayak and cast yourself adrift paddling past quiet coves for eye-level sumptuous views of majestic fern-draped limestone outcrops where local fishermen haul up a cache of silvery fish.
Press 3 for Food
Along Phranang Beach, long tail boats sell fruit shakes, pancakes and pad Thai conjured up in make-shift galleys. On the corner of lively, sandy Walking Street, home to tour offices, beach clothes, hair beading and braiding (natch), Flametree restaurant and bar serves-up snacks, freshly squeezed juices and happy hour cocktails from 6pm to ukulele sound tracks. There’s the tantalizing aroma of freshly ground coffee from locally grown beans in Real Coffee’s small, art-filled space.
At Rayavadee, cocktail creations include the Aromatherapy – gin, lychee liqueur, fresh cucumber, lychees, fresh lime wedge and white sugar while exquisite Thai cuisine encompasses Goong hom Pha, light-as-feather fans of crispy prawn wrapped in rice paper, served with sweet and sour plum sauce; spicy salads, rich curries and delectable dishes from wok and grill.
For Romance Press 4
Slip into the silky waters of Rayavadee’s infinity pool surrounded by avenues of fragrant frangipani trees or slide into pristine Phranang Beach to float under the ever-watchful karst formations. Swim, or at low tide walk, across to Happy Island’s small crescent of sand as the sun sinks in the west.
Watch a family of round-eyed, yellow-lipped Dusky Langurs enjoy an early dinner before strolling a moonlit path along Phranang Beach for an unforgettable dinner by the seashore at Krua Phranang.
Press 5 for Sustainability
Phranang and Railay Bay are working on a sustainable tourism plan for the region to protect both the natural environment and livelihoods of local communities resident in this dreamy landscape. Daily beach cleaning is led by Railay Business Association and there are no beach chairs, motorized water sports, umbrellas or structures.
No waste water is discharged into the sea treated instead through a recycling system. Education is the key particularly for the younger generation through local school activities where they’re taught to maintain the mangrove forest and encourage eco-friendly tourism.
To be fully unplugged (and trendily Retro) just write some postcards and mail them home…….
Krabi international airport has daily flights from Bangkok while Phuket is a 2 hour drive and 20 minute boat ride away. Railay Bay is accessible by boat only and it’s best to arrange transfers directly with your hotel. Alternatively, take a longtail boat from Ao Nang for around $30.
Rayavadee on Railay Beach comprises 98 two-storey pavilions and 4 luxurious beachfront villas discreetly spread across 26 acres of coconut groves. The villas’ award-winning circular design blends with the resort’s surroundings echoing the rounded cliffs that characterise the area’s unique landscape. Welcomed with a glass of coconut and lime juice and a cool towel, visiting between May and October can be ideal, monsoons notwithstanding. Rates are down and crowds are minimal and the weather is generally good with sporadic rain. High Season is November to April. www.rayavadee.com
For more visit www.tourismthailand.org