Railei: Four Times in Four Years
Railei kind of makes you feel like you have been holding your breath your whole life and only now do you think to exhale.
I don't think I will ever get used to seeing the bay cradled by towering karsts at each end, especially at night, when there is something truly magical about those dark columns. I'm certainly not the only one who feels this way, but there is something about the place that encourages a sense of intimacy.
I had first been there in 2004 after the J and S wedding and was shocked and stunned by the beauty. All the New Yorkers were--call it Thai sensory overload. We just sat on the porch at Baan Deborah with mouths open. I dropped my city girl thing (a jacket at least at all times!) and even boarded a plane all gritty with sand and a bikini underneath my clothes. The Jedi mind trick was complete. I was moving to Thailand.
Next time around, S, the rock-climbing rocket scientist and I had the best time I have ever had, with anyone, anyplace, anyhow. This time we perched at Baan Wolfgang and made friends and influenced people. She came off the plane in the middle of the night from India and I apologized for making her get right back on a plane, but promised that I was taking her to the best place in the world. We saw some debris left at that time--mostly broken pieces of longtail boat from the tsunami the year before. Thanks to B and C who sent us off from Bangkok with necessary provisions.
Rainy season, 2006, N and I go there and arrive at night--the longtail slips silently into the Andaman and no boatman in sight. We are confident that we could drive a boat if we had to when he swings aboard. So frightening and romantic in equal measure! Shack up in Baan Solly and read and listen to music and swim in fits of spontaneous happiness. Wake up in the middle of the night to watch Italy win the World Cup. A brilliant trip.
2007--a bleak year with no Railei.
2008--Our travel group needed to have one last trip before dear friends moved from Bangkok, but thankfully only to Singapore. Railei Beach Club was a no brainer. This trip included a solo swim for me where small schools of golden minnows arched out of the water in the trail of a receding wave washing me with a spontaneous wave of joy. Not something I experience every day, but commonplace in Railei.