By Laura Gelder

This is a feature from Issue 6 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.

Dock of the Bay

I arrived at Banana Bungalows in a taxi, having flown London to Bangkok and then Krabi after a four-hour layover. I was feeling pretty crabby, but a joyful wave of nostalgia washed over me as I stood waiting to check in – the place took me right back to my carefree year of backpacking. The brightly painted palm-thatched restaurant is open on one side and has raised bamboo platforms where you can sit on a cushion and sip a cold beer from the honesty fridge, adding to a tally next to your name. There’s a book swap with rumpled paperbacks in several languages. Cats slump listlessly on cushions, fans whirring crankily above them, stirring the thick humidity. I followed a path that cut through the mangroves onto a rickety jetty where shaded hammocks rippled in the breeze and deck chairs waited, their stripes solar-bleached and salt speckled. I sat down and gazed across Phang Nga Bay, where hundreds of limestone karsts rose haphazardly from the turquoise sea.

Climb 1,237 steps up to the Tiger Cave Temple for amazing views of the Andaman Sea

Krabi Province is famous for rock climbing thanks to its sheer limestone cliffs

Karsting Off

That first day I went kayaking through the mangroves of neighbouring Thalane Bay, crossing emerald waters to land on tiny wild beaches at the foot of giant jungle-clad karsts and briefly taking on a hitchhiker, a monkey which landed suddenly on my bow.
Back on the deck chair again, as the light faded that evening the tide receded in tandem, the mangrove behind me seeming to swallow it greedily with strange popping sounds accompanying the electric sawing of the cicadas. By then, waves no longer lapped below, and I hopped down onto wet sand and walked out on the seabed. As I strolled a loud rustling accompanied me, stopping whenever I did. Eventually, I realised it was thousands of tiny crabs running from me. The karsts faded to watercolour smudges, purple against the coral-hued horizon as the haunting sound of the call to prayer echoed from a mosque somewhere inland. If you want to find peace, I recommend Krabi.

This is a feature from Issue 6 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.