So far, Tonsai is a tropical paradise. It has 1 high end resort, about 6 cheap resorts (like the one we’re using), a handful of mini marts and restaurants, about 10 bars, and 6 climbing shops (offering sales, rentals, and guiding.) It also has cats, cats everywhere: both strays and pets, tame and skittish.
The place is technically part of the Thai mainland but it feels like an island because the only way in or out is by boat. It’s also (as I noted yesterday) isolated even from Railay – it’s difficult to walk there at high tide, and dangerous at night. Power is from generators and Internet is by satellite. Prices for everything are about double the prices in Krabi or Bangkok.
Yesterday, Robin and I finally made it climbing. After checking out most of the climbing shops, we settled on Basecamp Tonsai, which is the biggest and seems to be the best. They’re pretty much in the middle of Tonsai and they’re pretty much climber central – as well as the shop, there’s a shaded deck where you can chill, meet other climbers (although any restaurant or bar is also good for that), write notes on the whiteboard, and so on.
We joined a guided tour for the day – I wanted to get a feel for the area, and Robin wanted some top roping before jumping into lead climbing. (Most routes here are sport lead, in other words you climb from the ground clipping your rope into bolts along the way. With a guide, the guide does the leading then leaves the rope in place so you can top rope, which is safer and easier.) It was a great day! We climbed a few routes of varying difficulty in the morning, then headed up through a cave, rapelled down from the cave’s upper entrance, and climbed some more! The guide, Tong, was excellent, and there were two other climbers: a buff German guy trying the sport for the first time, and a girl from BC who climbs at about my level.
The rock here is excellent. I can see why people come here from all over the world just to climb. It’s limestone, but it’s nothing like the limestone in Kingston, Ontario. This stuff is pocked with holes of all sizes, covered in stalactites, and generally full of places to put your hands and feet. The downside is the rock is sometimes sharp on your hands (and rope!) A lot of the cliffs (especially on Tonsai) are also overhanging, which makes climbing harder. Railey has a good selection of mostly-vertical stuff so people head there for easier climbing..
Tomorrow, I’m meeting up with the girl (Mia), and we’re going to rent some gear and head out on our own. Robin is going to do a 1 day outdoor leading course. Or that’s the hope anyway. Robin and I both got sick today with an ailment the locals call Tonsai Tummy :( Robin hasn’t left the hut all day, and I just left to buy food and drinks. We’ll be OK eventually though, and today was going to be a rest day anyway – I haven’t climbed routes since Christmas so I need to recover from yesterday.
Photos are here (of climbing, not of Tonsai Tummy!)