This may offend many men reading my post. I don’t intend to corner anyone or any particular country. The story here is purely based on what we went through and what we witnessed at Phra Nang cave beach and Railay bay on that particular day.
Who were my Co-Passengers
I am writing this post two years after my trip. So I don’t remember my fellow passenger’s name. It was just four of us with our captain Momo and the driver. I clearly remember my fellow traveller’s face and their country, but not the names. They were a lovely group of people. We had one of the best days on our sailing trip with these guys except at Railay.
The lady who was younger than my mother was an American. She took a detour from her Singapore business trip to visit Phuket. She works in the IT industry, and she has lived in Bangalore for two months. – I am going to refer to her as Amy.
The second fellow traveller who was of my age was from Tunisia. When I got to know she is from Tunisia Star wars, Matmata houses, Sahara desert came to my mind. She was obsessed with taking selfies, and she was pro at it. I am going to call her Farah.
Their third fellow traveller was from Kerala – an Indian living in Abu Dhabi. Hailing from the same nation and neighbouring states, we had a lot in common to chat with. I am going to refer him “Cheta.”
I had heard enough of Railay and Krabi by many of my friends and bloggers. Most of them described it as a paradise; only a few told me how bad the crowd there is. Keeping it in my mind, I wanted to skip Railay beach because I had heard too much of it. It isn’t that I go to offbeat places. But I knew, how badly it was infected with mass tourism.
My fate, the weather wasn’t in our favour.
I had to choose the Krabi tour or get a refund after my Phang Naga bay trip was cancelled. But I had one of my best days in Thailand sailing. I loved laying back on Hong island beach and babbling with mom about that iconic dance move of KNPH. My mom wasn’t sure when I asked her not to expect the same serenity as Hong island in Railay beaches. She was confused when I mentioned,
“The Cave beach is always crowded. And many travellers said filled with men leering at women- I said. We had been to Cabaret Show and Walking street. Nobody irritated us. What could go wrong on an island paradise?” was her doubt.
Reaching the most famous “Cave Beach.”
From far, the caves looked amazing. We could spot tiny dots moving here and there—the humans looked like ants. As we moved closer, it was a swamp of tourists. Mom looked at me and asked, “Why did you get me to such a crowded place. It reminds me of Patong”.
The moment we got off the boat, Indian men recognised us and started shouting,” Oh hello, Indians here. Where are you from? Auntyji, you and your daughter are looking very nice”
The moment they noticed white ladies (Farah & Amy), many men got more excited. They kept shouting something, and we avoided eye contact and walked to the Penis shrine.
The beach was beautiful, But there was nothing surreal left. Including women, the crowd’s adrenaline was at its peak. Splashing water at each other and on the other tourists walking like us seemed to be the epitome of their happiness. Their screams were so loud that I couldn’t hear what my mom said. We just had a glance at the Penis shrine, listened to the mythology story by Momo and walked ahead.
The way tourists behave here is very disrespectful.
Many locals and fishers worship the cave still. It has become a hotspot for tourists to hold the offerings (wooden penises) and pose for pictures. I can recognise the Indian accent. But this time, it was not Indian-Some Men kept calling and shouting randomly,” Here is a giant penis if you want to look at it. Mine is as big as these wooden ones.”
The next cave area was a bit quiet. The beach was filled with creepy men, the cave area was flooded with ladies to pursue a “perfect Instagram photo” They were obsessed with how they looked and what they wore. My fellow passenger and I from Tunisia wanted to climb up a little to see how the caves looked. But nope, these ladies were in no mood to make way for other tourists.
Get clicked one photo, come back to the photographer, check if they looked perfect in the photo, go back to the same point, adjust the scarf/ pull the skirt up/down, twist the shorts, fix the hair – let the process continue without bothering if other tourists wanted to explore the caves.
Momo could sense what we all were going through.
After having such a lovely time at Hong island & peaceful sailing across the sea, this place felt like a tourist swamp. Near one of the caves, rock climbers were returning from the day’s practice. A group of tourists that included both men and women got excited again. The entire group swamped against those tired rock climbers for pictures!
Few of them agreed to pose with this group, while others refused and walked. The madness didn’t stop here. The tourist wanted to pose with the rock climbing gears! Instead of requesting, they just took it off their hands. At this point, the Thai guide lost his temper as his group was getting agitated. He said in a firm voice,” Don’t trouble us. We need to catch our boat.” Fortunately, the crazy group left the rock climbers and walked to the resort back.
We had no choice other than to stand there and watch this chaos caused by maniac tourists. Some looked terrified, and Others caused terror. All of our moods had changed. Irritated, devastated, worried, unpleasant – basically unhappy. To lighten the mood, Momo started talking. It was all about the caves and people who took shelter under the Penis shrine and remained unharmed during the Tsunami. In the end, she adds,” This is a lovely beach. Most tourists who come to Phi Phi and Phuket will arrive here by tourist package. That is why it is like this.”
Walking further ahead, we had reached the Railay bay resort. The beach was emptier than the cave beach. The weather was cloudy. Not many were out to sunbathe. Those who wanted to go Kayaking sat there wondering if they should go Kayaking in that kind of weather or not.
This beach had another problem!
Beer cans everywhere. Momo kept picking up whatever trash she found and we joined her too. Picking the trash and talking with each other, we walked to our boat.
There was a huge group of Indian men who were speaking in one of the Indian regional languages, trying to photograph/ videography girls in bikinis. A typical Indian CREEPY male tourist symbol is – wearing boxer briefs instead of swim trunks. That too, it will be either brick red, navy blue briefs of brand Rupa and Dixcy. The elastic around their bump is so loose that their briefs keep going down, flaunting their hairy ass cleavage.
When they came to Amy asking her to pose with them, she got furious and said NO firmly. Then it was Farah whom they wanted to have a photo with. She walked away from them swiftly. It was mom and me who they were ogling at. We stared back at them and said, go away. Giggling, smirking, they walked away whistling at us.
Just before we got into the boat, we heard a group fighting.
We turned back to see what was happening. A lady snatched one of those men’s phones; They were continuously clicking pictures of her from odd angles leering at her. Before we joined to support her, the resort security guards and manager came to help her. They asked those men to leave the island immediately. All of them were furious. Shouting and cursing, they got on to their fishtail boat with their beer cans and left.
Creepy and photo obsessed humans exist everywhere. It is our bad luck to encounter them in a place like Railay. You want to have sex; walking streets are made for you. If your motto of the trip is capturing your best portrait, be it so – But think of other tourists who want to see the place beyond clicking. If this is the condition in non-tourist season, imagine the peak season! Maybe you see an ocean of humans, not the actual ocean.
BEAUTIFUL PLACE WITH, ANNOYING CROWD.
One thing for sure, I am never going back to Railay. It isn’t that I explore off-beaten paths only. All I needed was a quiet and clean place. Without humans, any place on earth feels as if there was a zombie apocalypse. There has to be a balance; someone needs to control the influx of tourists. Humans need to know how to behave. We are social animals; we have to think if I am problematic to the next person. Women aren’t meant for leering just because we are in our bikinis. A place isn’t a mere backdrop for your Instagram photo. It is high time we treat destinations and cultures with the respect and importance they deserve.
What are your thoughts on Railay beach? Let us know in the comment section below.