Tonsai Again; A Study in ‘Fros and Grouper Faces

As if I hadn’t gotten enough traveling in… The Monday after my family left there was no school for Thai Mother’s Day (the Queen’s birthday, as you may remember from last year— she just turned 80. Happy [now much belated] Birthday Queen Sirikrit!), meaning we had a long weekend, meaning we oh-so-begrudgingly decided we needed to go traveling again.

You’d think, with my time in Thailand drawing so rapidly to a close, I’d be a bit more eager to check out some new places. And it’s not that I’m not. But when we first went to Tonsai for Collette’s birthday, back in February, she made it clear that it was the kind of place that keeps you coming back. A few months later that proved to be true; we returned in April to officially wind-up our end-of-term travels. On both occasions we were only there for one short night, and never made it around to doing what Tonsai is so renowned for: rock climbing.

This time around we had three whole nights on the beach, and on our final day a new friend took us to a cool climbing route called Groove Tube. And in general we had such a rip-roaring good time we’re planning yet another trip to Tonsai for Chris’ and my birthday, as well as my farewell. Keeps you coming back indeed!

the biker convoy heading through the last stages of krabi

just in time for sunset

leaving ao nang on the longtail– one of the last ones of the day, and the only way to get to tonsai

if you’re thinking, ‘heyyy… that looks JUST like the route i took to railay!’ you’re right. tonsai is the beach immediately adjacent railay west. whereas railay is resort-dense and can be quite expensive, tonsai has the feeling of more of a well-kept secret. every time we go we run into people who happened upon it and couldn’t bring themselves to leave; people who eventually did leave but made a point of returning; people who started at railay only to discover ‘THIS is where i need to be!’

We began Round 3 at Tonsai the same way we begin most rounds: by getting set up at Chill-Out Bar. It’s hard to determine what we like most about this place… The awesome, friendly staff who proceeded to call us all “Koon Kruuuuu!” (the very respectful address used for teachers. I realize it was largely tongue-in-cheek coming from them but it nevertheless amused me greatly) the entire time? The fact that the manager one of the bartenders (I asked him if he was manager and he looked at me very seriously and said, “No. We are family here.”) cut us a deal on rooms– 100 baht a night? (I mean. They’re very simple bamboo bungalows with a mat on the floor and a mosquito net, with shared bathrooms and a ‘bucket shower.’ But for $3 a night I ain’t complaining!) The endless slack-lining entertainment? The longtail boats converted into lounge areas? The goats?! Hard telling. But we re-established the friendships we’d made on our previous visits, grabbed some beers, and proceeded to enjoy the music, dancing, and fire shows for the rest of the evening.

david, collette, claire, and i did take a break in order to get some delicious massaman at mama’s chicken restaurant (yes, she serves more than chicken) and decided that because the table was so high it felt like we were at a kids’ table. hahaha. with a beer. and looking… well haggard.

collette and claire at the kids’ table too.

stopping to introduce david to what collette hailed as ‘the best smoothie ever’: coconut, mango, and banana. this was later topped (in my opinion) by the discovery of coconut, banana, peanut butter, which we ended up ordering in buckets.

so happy after the first sip!


then we decided to go to the nearby sunset bar for a change of scenery

oh yeah, and wayne’s excellent dancing

oh yeah, and i got to sing with the band for a few songs? (the first one, oddly enough, was ‘zombie,’ which thais go totally nuts for. it’s strange because it wasn’t discussed nor did they give me lyrics, but luckily i’d been making a worksheet about the song for my kids earlier that very day so i knew them!) david also got up and rocked out pretty hard on drums, so that was cool too.

and later in the evening chris entertained us by playing a tune on the flip-flop guitar; the latest fad in thailand

and this is what we woke up to in the morning

grouper face competitions began the next morning at breakfast

wayne wins

and then we stumbled on some monkeys? awesome.

of course, in our opinion, wayne had already dominated every dance-off competition

one last grouper face and a big ol’ smile. (also lolz to the guy in the background. a little dirt-path yoga for ya! why not?

did i mention the beach was nicer this time than ever before?

looking out towards railay on a beautiful day! the boys took the treacherous jungle path in order to use the atm (no atm’s on tonsai) but most of us were lazy and hung out in our boat hideout that we made our home for the weekend.

the aforementioned boat hideout

a local girl on one of tonsai’s infamous slacklines. with a little assistance.

love this one

claire heading up some beach yoga.

cool photo! thanks wayne.

haha… caught in the middle of david and jimmy’s fro-off. not a bad place to be!

and then we did the stanky legg. naturally.

for those of you unfortunates who are unfamiliar with the stanky legg

lek offering up some fresh papaya on sunday afternoon

Sunday afternoon it was rock climbing time! Claire had met an Australian climber named Ben the night before, who’d offered to take us. We rented some equipment from the place next to Chill Out Bar (Why Not? Bar, I wanna say… gotta love these names) and then it was off to Groove Tube!

He chose Groove Tube not only because it was an easy enough route for n00bs like us, but also because you could get such a nice view. We were very appreciative! Collette went first, followed by Wayne, then me, David, Claire. We all made it up without falling and are super amped for another climbing adventure. Thanks Ben!

not a bad view at all! this was just the base, where we began the real climbing.

groove tube, in all her glory. a relatively easy climb with lots of natural holds.

ben helping collette get started. the first bit’s the hardest!

ta, the guide for the couple climbing ahead of us, toplining their next climb. he was a funny guy! his mantra was, ‘no worry, chicken curry. no hurry, no curry, no worry, no chicken.’ gave us the biggest laugh!

patiently waiting our turns.

nice one!

wayne getting started

i brought up wayne’s camera when i climbed. not a bad view at all!!

everyone cheering me on!

perpendicular view

david on his way up. ben labeled him as, ‘my first afro climbing experience!’

claire on her way up!

So again… had a great time with our first climbing experience! Thanks so much, Ben! (For more on Groove Tube.)

That night we had another little party, during which I got to watch a bit of the Perseids meteor shower. A magical moment!

And the next morning, we were off again.

the last shot with my infamous full moon glasses… they fell off during a very hectic and windy bike ride

celebrity shot of the man on the bike next to us

my solution to my sarang always blowing off and leaving me sunburn. and sprite. and old school gas dispensers.

So… in case anyone missed it… Tonsai. 21-23 September. Angela and Chris’ birthdays. Angela (and Wayne, actually)’s going away. Be there or be square!





2 thoughts on “Tonsai Again; A Study in ‘Fros and Grouper Faces

  1. Pingback: Beer Pong’s Thung Song Debut | …still having the THAIme of my life

  2. Pingback: You Know I Pack Light! | …still having the THAIme of my life

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