It was a hot and sweaty climb down the steep steps with my bag, followed by a breezy longtail boat ride from Railey before I reached Krabi town. I couldn't wait to dump my bags at the hostel and to finally see it after hearing so much about it from other travellers. I was staying at Pak Up Hostel, which Lonely Planet has dubbed as one of the best in Thailand and apparently much of Asia according to those staying there. In fact, as I strolled up the hill towards the hostel, an American guy shouted across the street and invited me to join a group going back to Railey but as I'd just arrived he recommended staying at this very hostel. When I arrived, I was pleased to be shown straight to the English Room, where I stayed in the Leicester Square bunk - making me feel right at home. It was just 250 a night, which was a welcome relief after paying 800 a night in Railey and finding everything so expensive there.
I don't normally focus too much on where I stay, just a passing recommendation for you guys, but this time the hostel was more than worth it. The cleanest, comfiest beds I have slept in, and Pak Up boasted the most welcoming and friendly staff who will help with anything you need, especially saving you money and time. I was touched to see how they became really fond of us and chatted every time we passed through reception, remembering our names and everything we had told them - little things like that make a really big difference. I was really impressed with how clean not only the dorms but the bathrooms, showers and toilets were as well, with hot showers! My first hot showers since Bangkok!
Minutes after arriving, I became instantly really good mates with everyone in my dorm and from several others along the hall. We made plans to eat dinner together and to have drinks in the evening which was great. I headed out exploring but realised there wasn't much to see in the immediate town, that you did need bikes or a bus, but it was interesting to walk around a town instead of a seaside resort after weeks on the islands. Quite refreshing actually. The town itself has a really nice relaxed atmosphere and is a perfect place to stay if you want to explore the area with cheap travel to Railey, Ao Nang, Koh Phi Phi and a few other places. There are loads of coffee shops and restaurants to sit in and watch the world go by while you catch up with emails or a good book.
After an afternoon exploring, I met up with everyone from the dorms and we went down to the night market which was just at the end of the street and was full of amazing, fresh food being prepared right in front of you. I loved the spring rolls, the coconut balls, the pad Thai, the basil fried rice and the satay chicken. The whole area came alive in the evening as everyone headed down to the dock to feed up and browse the stalls. I particularly enjoyed watching an old Thai man, he must have been around 70 years old and yet he could cook quicker than anyone on the other stalls - he was brilliant to watch. We had a lovely first evening filling up on food, then headed back to the hostel to sit out on the porch chatting and drinking a disgusting rice wine called Siamsato that two of my new friends recommended.
The next day, one of my new friends and I hired a motorcycle and headed out on an adventure to explore a nearby national park. We had wanted to check out the tiger temple, but it was too hot to climb 1300 steps so we went waterfall hunting instead. I trusted him to ride the bike as I knew he had several at home and was good with them, but it was still a nerve-wracking drive to the park. I'm not a very good passenger as I am so used to always being the driver. But we made it in one piece and the park was beautiful, we trekked up a steep climb to the top of the waterfall where we jumped in and stood under the torrent of water. It was a perfect way to cool off and later we wandered around the park, breathing in a bit of nature and spotting amazing trees.
That night, the Pak Up family got together and I was joined by a whole group of new dorm mates - one who brought along a ukulele and sang Jack Johnson songs and classic nineties hits all night for us, plus another awesome doing he had written himself and was due to release soon. We sat out on the porch for a fun night of drinks and singing along, and were joined by a random Thai guy from the street who wanted us all to try his opium cigarettes and was convinced he was Captain Jack Sparrow! We all had so much fun I was convinced to stab another night despite my original plans to move on to Phuket Town the next day. The next day, two of us went on a day trip to Ao Nang on the bike and had a lazy one on the beach and driving around. I was glad I didn't end up staying in Ao Nang like I had planned beforehand, it was way too touristy for my tastes and the high numbers of older German gentlemen flaunting themselves in tiny speedos was not something I want to wake up to each morning.
Our final night together was a celebration - we were all heading off either the next day, or shortly after to our next destinations, so it was good to have a final send off for the travelling family. I was surprised, considering how little time I was in Krabi, how attached I became to the place, and to the people. For a place that has only a small amount of attractions and sights to offer the traveller, it is well worth stopping off for a while. If only to meet some of the most amazing and interesting travellers I have met yet. Plus a chance to stay in this fantastic hostel can never be passed up for that price! I was sad to say goodbye to my friends, but excited to start my journey to Phuket Town for a completely different experience.
Have you stayed at Pak Up Hostel - what did you think? Did you love Krabi like I did?