I’m in Southern Thailand at the moment and in case you were wondering, yes, it’s exactly like Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie The Beach – complete with isolated cove beaches, great fishing opportunities, hippie communes, and ruthless drug farmers with AK-47s. Kidding on that last part.
Krabi, located near Phuket, is an incredibly scenic and awe inspiring place – imagine Yosemite Park on the beach. It’s also basically Russia’s version of the U.S.’s Caribbean. When picturing the local tourist scene, think of a plethora of beautiful Russian women in bikinis traveling with the likes of Steve Wozniak in a speedo. The area is also unsurprisingly a favorite for film makers as it is the location for the hit Leonardo DiCaprio film, The Beach, and home to James Bond Island.
Deep Water Solo’ing, rock climbing without ropes over water, is by far the best adventure sport I’ve encountered so far. It’s practiced on sea cliffs at high tide in places where the water is confirmed to be very deep; Southern Thailand happens to be one of the best locations in the world to do this. The goal is to successfully climb up the face of the cliff sans rope, and when you reach the top, you jump off - because really what else would you do with a bunch of cliffs over the water. If you fall during the climb, you fall into the water. Simple as that.
The great thing about DWS is the benefit of falling into something forgiving like water. If you can’t quite make the next grip, or your fingers get fatigued, or you loose your balance, you just fall to into the ocean which is fun in its own right.
I’ve always been hesitant about outdoor rope climbing. That might be due to the many movies I’ve seen growing up where the opening scene features a decision to cut a family member’s rope to save one’s own life, with the alternative being certain death for the both of you. It could also be that most of the rock climbers I’ve known tend to be constantly high, which is not exactly the type of demeanor or personality trait that I tend to entrust my life with. I don’t want to rely on Cheech & Chong’s craftsmanship when it comes to suspending myself 70 ft in the air from an amateur bolt rig.
The beach resort in this picture is completely isolated to that one area. There is no road up in those cliffs. That means the entire compound, swimming pool, fountain, and all, was imported from other areas in Krabi via boat. Every tourist and box of beer has to arrive by boat.
The rock climbing community in Krabi is full on. The base camp in Ton Sai beach is exactly like the community featured in DiCaprio’s The Beach where everything is run like a self sustaining hippie commune. Every building is a wooden hut and features its own bar, there’s no shortage of hammocks, there are (?)artfully(?) placed beer bottles lining most of the paths, and Bob Marley and Jimmy Hendrix are stuck on repeat. You will end up looking like the guy in the left of this photo if you stay here too long. He’s only a few years away from adding the facial tattoos. Didn’t manage to snap a picture of one of those guys.