Sun sun sun, and climbing and a 'stiff as a board' back

so, where was I?
O.k., we'd arrived into Ton Sai. Much to both our giddiness and bemusement of course - I'd have been worried as both of us arrived and seen us like this. LOL

Much to my (initial) shock, most of the bars on the beach were gone! I'd heard stories from beforehand that a resort was moving in but, to be honest, I wasn't really expecting it. Anyway, much to my genuine happiness, if anything it's a better place for it as it means there's a bit more of an isolated feel to the place once again. Now with large swathes of coconut trees, minus the neon lights, it means it's a much more authentic experience. Even still, I must have sounded ridiculous in the first few minutes until I realized all the benefits with my "oh wow, my place for breakfast used to be there...and I used to eat lunch there" to HAP!
Still though, after settling into our hut up in Country Side Resort (sounds very fancy I know, but you can't go wrong for 3 Euro a night per person!), we set out on our business. A quick afternoon at a crag looking out over the beach sounded in order :) So, after running up a few of the supposed 6b's (with both of us falling off one!?! the heat was getting to us, I hope), I had a quick run up one of the local steep 6c classics. With mega exposure, being about 30 meters above the valley floor, a fun outing was had. The highlight of the day? After we accidently dropped one of my sandals from the bottom of this route, it disappeared into the distance, and jungle, and it looked like I would be wearing trainers for the rest of the trip, we walked down to find my sandal sitting in the middle of the path. Awesome! A good start to the trip :)

so, after that, the days passed by following the similar routine. Get up, have a few games of Connect 4 (we're simple folks at times!) over breakfast, head to the crags, climb a few routes (usually into the midday sun - oops), chill a bit, try motivate ourselves for some more climbing in the afternoon, go grab some dinner from a random restaurant, have a cocktail or so, retire. A tough life but somebody had to do it.....

Our funky breakfast mugs in the 'Sea of Love' café. the owners, as usual, adopted us (and all their other customers) for our two-week stay)

As it happens, I've got very few photos of climbing action so you'll just have to trust me that we did actually climb. HAP found that she was addicted to the local classic 7b+ (5.12c), Tidal Wave, and set up camp on this route for the trip. To say that she was climbing strongly would be an understatement. While she didn't get it clean, she did have all the moves completely clean so it would've only been a matter of time. Considering this route overhangs about 6 meters in it's 10 vertical, it's not what you'd call a straight-forward tick.
I, in a moment of madness, decided I wanted to set up camp on a new grade. So, find the nearest 8b (5.13d) -one I'd seen been done barefooted by some strong-men Russians on my previous visit -, and off I went. With a gnarly dyno to begin with, and another dyno up at the end of the hard climbing, I was having no real problems in the middle section (very tough, but I felt I could put it all together) but wasn't having much luck with the dynos (that's a jump to non-climbers where you basically have to throw yourself to the next hold).

The move after the first dyno - photo has not been rotated to make it steeper ;(

My usual position on this route :) Spent a lot of time doing this! LOL

Still though, it was a great experience - even if I felt I needed to start working on my power after playing on the route. Anyway in an amusing twist, I decided to abandon this route after feeling I couldn't pull it off without some specific dyno training, so stripped my gear off the route and went over to a 7c+ (5.13a) I'd been recommended......and couldn't do that either because of a dyno. Classic! Made for good laughs all round, and considering this was right beside HAP's route, which is right in front of the bar, we both must have looked completely daft (and motivated) after throwing ourselves off our respective routes continuously!
We did manage to tick off a respectable amount of other routes in the overall trip, and made it to 6 different sectors in the region for climbing. Not bad in two weeks.

Of course, it wasn't all just climbing. Using some vague distances to persuade HAP (not hard considering all I had to say was that there was white-sand beaches also...), we set off on our open kayak to Ko Poda island. O.k., so it looks closer than it appears but 45 minutes or so later we were laying on the most pristine of beaches. mmmmmmm :) HAP took to snorkeling amazingly well for someone who's not a big fan of water (SLC's one flaw is that the sea isn't nearby) and we'd a great laugh admiring all the local fish life. thankfully none of them sting as I attempted to pick them all up to see what they look like.... I think the photos say it all about the location however......

our company (with the exception of some other monkeys, sorry, tourists ;)

Our trusty kayak, and two happy campers

And of course, we did make it out to Ko Phi Phi island, where The Beach was filmed. Unfortunately, I was obviously too distracted with the view, as I took no photos whatsoever! LOL I'm depending on HAP to display hers to prove we were actually there....

In between all this we got to sit down in a restaurant on the evening of the earthquake that hit Indonesia. It's quite surreal to sit in Railey (which got demolished with 9,000 loss of life) while watching CNN as they discuss the possibility of a tsunami. The reason we ended up in Railey was for dinner, and most importantly get a Thai massage. You'll notice the title of this lonnnggg post: that's in relation to my back. After wearing out the lady, she was very definite about the fact that I had to come back the next day. Little did I know what I was letting myself in for as she walked up and down the backs of my leg and back while pressing off the roof of the room for extra pressure. What do you know, it actually works. I can't remember the last time my back was this flexible?! Luckily, HAP's was in much better condition so didn't have to go through that torture, sorry, massage.
Still though, we came across these two cute cats on the walk back. Gave me a laugh :)

And so, that brings me up to the end of the trip. I think an email I've received since arriving home describes the highlights of the thailand part of the trip the most: "from the moment I saw you two climbing on the beach you were either laughing or smiling". Saws it all really!
I'm skipping loads I'm sure. the geckos in the room, the water monitor (think giant lizard) living under the bar, the epic on the multi-pitch, trying to get the kids/ornaments home (private joke, sorry :), the beer cosy (epic), etc. but I think I've written enough and I also need an excuse to meet up with y'all to bore you with some more stories ;)

This was the last evening's meal in Bangkok - 50 cent dinner off the street on Ko San Road :) The classy way to end a fantastic trip

Of course, this does mean I'm back in Eire once again meaning I'm relatively close to most of y'all now.

I'll have to finish off with a big thanks to Sean, Dawid, Chris for being my sidekicks for much of this year's traveling.
An extra shout out to HAP for being brave enough to share her holiday with me (you would not believe how much pressure that puts on a person by being her first ever traveling partner). Hopefully I might be seeing you sooner than later for some more traveling/climbing/fun!
And of course, to all I met on the trip. the list is way to long to write out - you know how you are and hopefully get to keep in touch with some of you in the future!

HAP, I know you've a pile of photos. I'll leave you to post about the trip first until I link to them.....

Phew, now I've to start writing up the past couple of weeks activities..... :)
Update: added direct link to photo album from Thailand

Around the bouldering venues of Ireland

Leaving on a jet plane