Koh Phayam to Ranong (Travel Tips)

Leaving Kho Phayam was slightly different than my arrival.  The afternoon times for the slow boat were at 14:00 and 15:00 and you can buy a ticket at almost any business around the pier for 200THB (350 for fast boat).  When the boat got in it arrived at a different section of the pier than where I departed from a few days earlier, so I came out onto a different street than I was familiar with.  A taxi (truck bus) offered me a ride to the bus station for 70THB right there parked at the pier.  But I walked about 50 meters to the main road, waited on the corner for a minute, and hopped on a blue truck bus that took me to the bus station for 20THB.  It stopped along the way and took a little longer than a taxi would have and I was definitely awkwardly seated with my big pack on, but the price was much more reasonable for my standard of comfort and time.  I’m not sure where the red truck buses take you but I imagine if you plan on spending time in town it would be a similar low price to get a ride into town.

Leaving Ranong (Travel Tips)

Like I mentioned in earlier posts, the truck busses are the cheap way to get around Ranong if you just need to get from point A to point B.  They run every couple of minutes and take longer than a taxi because of stops, but are a third the price. I took the blue truck bus from the pier (upon arrival from Kho Phayam) and intended to go straight to the bus station and hop on a bus to Krabi.  However, when I got to the bus station (16:30 or so) busses for Krabi were no longer leaving until the next morning so I stayed at the Kiwi Orchid & PL Guest House around the corner from the bus station to take cover from the rain, get some food, and hop on WiFi to develop a new plan.  The bus left in the morning (7:30 and 10:30) and rooms start at 250THB for a basic double, shared bathroom, with fan. They sell bus tickets there, but walking around the corner to the bus station is a cheaper option than buying it from them. Ranong to Krabi was 210THB at 7:30 when I arrived the next morning, even though they told me 190THB at the ticket counter the day before…. Kiwi sells them for 260THB and claims they drop you off in town, unlike some other companies.

My “Resort” on Kho Phayam: Banana Resort

Buffalo Bay sunrise 4

Sunrise on the swinging bench at Banana Resort beach


I feel the locals overuse the word “resort” when advertising the bungalows.  There are no hostels guest houses, just “bungalow resorts.”  Perhaps the more expensive ones have spas, room service, restaurants, and tours, but I was there during a slow time when everyone was doing repairs so it was hard to see any of that advertised.  Where I stayed was absolutely perfect for me and what I was looking for.  I paid 200TBH (normally 400TBh in high season) for a small bungalow with a bed, desk, and bathroom.  There was a large bug net and a fan, but honestly I got plenty of sea breeze coming through the windows I never felt too hot.  I had a small deck accompanied by a chair and hammock with a view through the trees to the water.  The water comes straight up to the property at night so crashing waves are right outside the door.  Wonderful to fall asleep to.  Not to mention frogs that echo up and down the beach with deep, soaring croaks.  There is a large roofed area in the middle of the grounds with tables where you can order food or tea from the very sweet wife Mimi.  The husband, Mai, will be around somewhere, rain or shine, chopping wood, pulling plants, and always smiling.  The generator is turned on every night at 6:30 to about 11 where you can charge any devices, but no WiFi. I am not sure about high season but it’s possible there would be more electricity available during that time due to demand, but locals seemed to be on a tighter budget when I was there.  There is a different small sector of their property of bungalows that cost more.  I did not explore over there, but they looked a little larger and made of more cement, unlike the bungalows on the main property made like grass huts (more open air). The beach on the property opens up to Buffalo Bay, a small, at parts rocky, beach where the sun sets right in front of you.  There are rocky areas to tide pool hunt and climb around (careful they are sharp!) or sandy entrances to calm waters after 10am when the tide starts to go out.  I think there is a hippy pirate bar being built a couple places down…Anyway, if you are looking for a quieter, smaller place ran by two very helpful and kind individuals, Banana Resort is the place to go.

Buffalo Bay sunrise 2                    Buffalo Bay sunrise 3

Buffalo Bay 5          Buffalo Bay 4           Buffalo Bay 3

Buffalo Bay 2                    Buffalo Bay 1

If you want busier, larger places with more going on inside the premises there are places next door that looked a lot bigger and rented kayaks.  Also, Long Beach is the other side of the island where there is surfing and a really long beach if you like to walk forever on the sand. Not sure what those resorts are like but I hear that is the more expensive side to stay at, so therefore probably more going on. So when you see the word “resort” on almost every sign, don’t get worried like I did that I was entering a high class place I couldn’t afford.  I think the locals like to make tourists feel comfortable and special so they use that word.  Everyone was truly nice on the island and always trying to help when I had issues.

Long Beach-Kho Phayam 3 Long Beach-Kho Phayam 2

Long Beach, Kho Phayam. Generally the more expensive side of the Island for accommodation and also where the surfing is.

Long Beach, Kho Phayam. Generally the more expensive side of the Island for accommodation and also where the surfing is.

First Massage in Asia. So Deep. So Awkward.

It felt like her fingers were digging through my surface muscles into the bones.  In my calves, unfortunately there is no “hurts so good”; it just plain hurts.  I knew they really needed it so I let her go deep but tried to have her back off when it was too much.  After one torturous leg she moved to the next.

“Oh my gosh I can’t wait ‘til she gets to my back where I can handle the pressure,” I prayed to myself.

As a massage therapist and an anthropologist I really didn’t want to tell her how to do her job or make her change what she was doing because I wanted to learn some techniques and understand her methods. So I bit my tongue and tried to breathe through it.  After attempting to explain that my legs were sore from soccer a couple days ago, I went back to the cringing, drooling experience that was happening in the face cradle.

“You’re body very hot.”

“Did I just hear say my body was hot?” Surely she must be referring to the fact I’m borderline sweating all over because it’s freaking hot in the room and she’s pumping tons of blood through my body right now.  Unfortunately my logical and scientific reasoning was not correct.  When she had me turn over we chatted for a second about that I also do massage in the US and have been traveling a lot, hoping she would understand I wanted more hands and neck work.  But she just wanted to rub my legs more.  Then it happened again.

“Your body so hot”

Oh boy.  “Yea, I know.  It is so hot in Indonesia and I’m not used to it,” making a fanning motion with my hands.

“No, hott”

She really accentuated the “t” at the end of hot.  Almost followed with a sizzling sound.  It then became impossible to enjoy the massage.  I tensed up and had no idea what she was implying, so I just ignored the comment and did not speak anymore out of will.  At the end of the massage she whispered to me, “After massage you want something?”

“No thanks!” I almost shouted, mind going a million miles an hour.  Then realized I may have misunderstood what she said so I asked her to repeat.

“After massage you want some tea?”

My body relaxed in relief.  “Yes, some tea would be great, thank you.”

I still do not know what that experience meant and I never really will.  Was she looking for an extra tip by offering favors?  Did she genuinely like me and is interested in women?  I have no idea but I didn’t want to make any assumptions or offend her so I pretended like everything was normal and thanked her and left.  In Southeast Asia, massage is a massive part of their culture and is seen everywhere amongst all people.  It seems to me, especially in Bangkok, that sex, gender orientation, and whom one is attracted to, is socially acceptable; more so than the US even.  Not matter what my therapist’s intentions were, I cannot get upset or judgmental because I am in their world of massage, cultural customs and personal choices.  I know next time to be very clear before the massage what I would like to get out of it and of course very thankful casue she did work some kinks out!

Jakarta 2



…Has actually surprised me quite a bit. I was expecting the garbage, poverty, prostitution and all the stereotypes associated with it, but I’ve also had my eyes opened to its kind, colorful side as well.  Perhaps my time in India prepared my heart for the human trafficking and disgusting underground networks that happen which most of us don’t see on the surface.  Once I can push past that and accept it as something that happens and hopefully is being changed, I can open up to see what lies beneath the filth of humanity.  Last night I came upon a legless man lying face down in the pouring rain at 12:30 at night begging for money.  This clearly was his spot as I saw him there a couple nights earlier.  My heart wanted to massage feeling back into his legs and help him find a shelter but something inside me knew that wasn’t the case.  A Thai woman I met last night told me there are no shelters or charities for people like this as the government (or maybe the city council) puts their money elsewhere. So where do the homeless and disadvantaged go?  I have no idea. Near the man was a white woman in a rain poncho, unhappy and sitting on the curb.  I stood there for at least sixty seconds looking at her, then the man, then back at her.  I felt like I needed to help one of them; it felt wrong to ignore.  Since I do not live in or full understand Bangkok yet I did not know how to help the man on the ground. And something inside me said not to give him money.  So I chose to help the woman because at least I probably speak the same language and can communicate. I walked up to her and asked her if she was okay.  She gazed up at me from her dripping plastic hood.

“I’ve lived here six years and have had to stare at this man every day.  I just can’t take it anymore.  People just walk right by him.  No one ever helps.  I want to help him.”

It was clear she was disturbed by the poor man’s situation and also had no idea which way was best to help him.  She wanted to take him to her home, give him a shower, food, bed, and general care, but she didn’t know how to go about it.  I told her I walked over to her to help her so if that’s what she needed help with and in turn would help the man then even better. We discussed our concerns of him being a part of some ring of nastiness where he works for somebody and gives them a cut of what he makes, but wanted to try anyway. When we approached him gently to speak, even though not in his language, but he grunted and aggressively scooted past us.  It was obvious, despite kind intentions, he was not interested in our help.  Maybe, regardless of the fact he has no legs, he makes good money or is coerced into working for somebody else given his vulnerable situation.  She was disappointed her help was rejected and would continue to have to stare at him every day in his spot, suffering.  I felt bad that I could not help even though I offered it to her, and him.  I guess that’s the best I could do; offer true help, which these days seems not to be money.  Bangkok displays poverty, human trafficking, and slavery situations such as this one is suspected, but it also has compassion and a willingness to help.  I walk around lost and confused in the streets trying to get where I’m going, and instead of distaste for the stupid westerner, I’ve gotten nothing but smiles and help from the locals.  Everyone offers help to me without me asking and simply being genuine; not asking anything in return.

I appreciate when humans can be humane with each other.  When our differences disappear. In Bangkok especially, gender and sexuality have ambiguous and accepted places in its culture. Modernism, ancient traditions, and various religions, are all existing and tolerated in the same place.  I always like to lean toward the happy and optimistic side of things because I don’t like to be sad and feel hopeless for the world.  It’s not me being naïve or not caring about what’s happening, it’s choosing to have compassion with awareness instead.  In my opinion, compassion always helps more in the long run than do anger, sadness and distrust. It was a sad event watching that woman go through this emotional transition she’s been dealing with for years, but it was also pretty special being a part of it and knowing that someone else out there does care and won’t keep walking by every time.  She will take a moment of grieving and sending good wishes, even if there’s nothing she really can do.  Bangkok is a crazy place on the surface and underneath, but also a welcoming city open to different things and people. Those are my observations thus far anyway…

The poor man who can't or chooses not to be helped

The poor man who can’t or chooses not to be helped 😧

Happy locals working in the rain ☔

Happy locals working in the rain ☔

Jakarta Travel Tips

I only spent a little over one day in Jakarta as I was there in transit to Bangkok, but here are some things I hope you will find helpful.

-bus from airport to town is called DAMRI

  • On far left side of terminal (just ask people for DAMRI and they will help) walking about 300 meters or so
  • Tickets on bus or at kiosk (40,000 IDR)
  • Ride takes about 1hour to get to train station

-GABMIR is the name of the main train terminal in city center

  • From there you can go to pretty much anywhere in Jakarta or catch a taxi to hotel
  • Taxi-Blue bird or Silver Mercedes taxis are apparently the safest and most expensive
    • Always get a metered taxi and you will be less likely to get ripped off
  • Tuk tuks (not pronounced like that in their language) and moto taxis are cheapest (20,000-30,000 IDR for a 10 to 20 minute ride
    • You can always bargain

-Getting to the airport take the same route as from the airport (taxi to GAMBIR, wait 0-20min for DAMIR bus, pay 40,000 IDR to get to airport)

  • That whole process can take anywhere from 1-2 hours depending on traffic and how long you have to wait for the bus to arrive so plan ahead 3-4 hours depending on a domestic or international flight
  • Of course sharing a taxi could bring the price down individually and be more convenient, but I was alone so this was the most economical option.


-There are 2 international terminals!  I’m not sure what specifically categorizes them (like intercontinental versus flying outside of Asia or perhaps specific airlines) but I was flying from Jakarta to Bangkok and had to go to terminal 3.  The DAMIR bus dropped me off at Terminal 2 because that is the international airport, but when I got off and asked someone where Air Asia was, they sent me to terminal 3.  If I were you I would tell the bus driver which airline you are flying instead of just international or domestic.  If you do however, need to transfer terminals, there is a free shuttle bus that will take you there.  It literally says in big bold letter on the front “FREE SHUTTLE BUS.”

-Upon entering the terminal, before even going through the door we all had to pass through security.  I was supposed to have boarding pass and ID ready, so I recommend checking in for your flight ahead of time so you can show proof of your flight.  Everyone had it printed out but I showed him my check-in page on my phone and he settled with that.  Not sure he wanted to though…After that, I went to the check-in counter to check my bag and entered the terminal.  Once in the terminal, there is A LOT of shopping and food.  Kind of like a mall.  Once you are in the terminal this is not the last security check point. It is your last chance to eat or get water before entering the gates! You can eat, drink, shop, but once you are done and go through security that’s it.  There is only a small duty free shop but no food.  And when I was there the (purified) drinking fountain was out of water….And then my plane was delayed and I got hungry…and thirsty….Once in the gated area, the attendants speak pretty good English, but listen carefully to announcements as I thought they were hard to understand.

If you fly Air Aisa it is cheap but they do not provide complimentary snacks or drinks so you must book that when purchasing your ticket.  Not expensive, but good to know if you are stuck at the gate for hours with no food or water and then get on the plane and still no food or water.  Lol, I always learn the hard way. Maybe you can but food and drinks on the plane but I was asleep on the window by the time I thought to ask.  I hope these random facts are helpful for you flying between Asian cities.  Basically, I would always be prepared for delays, have food and water on you, and give yourself plenty of time.

Moto taxi fun! AND everything was happening on the opposite side of the road from what I’m used to!


Reno to Jakarta Airport Adventure: Part 2

Hello Tokyo Narita airport! I love Japan and I’m only in the airport. Very excited to come back one day and visit for real. Okay, here’s my observations:

My left neck,  shoulder and glutes are super angry from my 10.5 hour plane flight I just took.  Preceded by a 5 hour layover in LAX.  Japan-Everything is clean, organized, and convenient. Still trying to figure out the proper coffee and tea system without looking lost preparing my cup. Sugar comes in sticks, not packets.  A medium coffee is a small in the US. Portions are smaller, or just more appropriate… The Japanese man laying next to me is continuously whistling “Oh Come A Ye Faithful.”  Driving me crazy lol.  Other people take their shoes off randomly too like me! I guess it’s not so random here. Everyone appears happy, small, and very kind. Men wear traditional looking skirts.  I must return to explore tea, sake, martial arts and skiing!









The Adventure Begins…kind of.

It was a bitter sweet morning as I watched my business partner and friend leave for South East Asia. I wanted nothing more than to be on the flight next to her, joining in on the adventures. Unfortunately I will have to wait a few weeks to join in on the travels but I am excited to read fantastic blogs and see incredible photos from this point of view. Safe travels!!! I will see you soon!!

Ciao Bella

Reno to Jakarta Airport Adventure: Part 1

Paul and I checked me in to the ticket window for my flight to Jakarta, Indonesia.  I was finally starting to get excited when the attendant started telling me I needed a tourist visa because I had no proof I was not staying longer than thirty days (which I looked up on the internet and it said I didn’t need one).  My palms started sweating and my stomach gurgled.  Maybe I wasn’t supposed to go on this trip.  I couldn’t find record of my inter-continental flight between Indonesia and Thailand in my email nor bank records so I had to buy another ticket right then and there to prove I was not over-staying into needing a visa.  Okay, on the flight, I’m going to Asia.  I waited with Paul at his gate while he stood standby to try and hop on to see his youngest daughter for her birthday.  He kept striking out.  Little did I realize my flight was waiting for me and trying to take off. “Kendra Cromwell, please report to gate C8.”  Woops, haha.

I awoke flying over Los Angles to peach clouds scattering the horizon and a misty rainbow shining below the wing.  Man, what a great sight to start the day with!  I guess I was supposed to go to Asia. In LAX I remembered the Reno attendant had told me I would have to check back in again since this was an international flight.  I took the shuttle to where the screen said my gate was supposed to be but when I got there it wasn’t the international terminal.  I asked an attendant at a counter if all international flights leave from that terminal and he confirmed.   Confused, I left the airport, walked around aimlessly outside looking for the other terminal, got sent back up a stair case, passed through security again, and came back into a building.  As I walked down the hall I recognized the café to my left and the airport security I asked directions from thirty minutes ago.  I was back in the same exact terminal! Luckily I was in no hurry so I found an information booth to have her confirm which terminal I was actually supposed to be in.  Turns out all along, I had originally arrived at the right terminal and second guessed myself by thinking international.  And not to mention everyone telling me to go there and check back in.

As I relaxed for my five hour layover I realized that the universe had been looking out for me.  I almost sabotaged myself by giving into the ticket lady in Reno about the visa thing, but Paul insisted I convince her I had proof of my stay in Asia albeit no records.  I second guessed myself with my gate to leave the country and allowed those around me who didn’t know any better to tell me where they thought I was “supposed” to go.  I walked around in circles and was forced right back to where I started, which is where I knew I was supposed to be, just didn’t have the full confidence to sit down and believe it.

This morning has set the tone for my Southeast Asia trip.  There will be lots of unknowns, challenges and an overwhelming amount of options, like always when traveling. But this time I will not have a friend to tell me not to take “no” for an answer when I know I have a ticket and have done the research, or not to second guess myself when I clearly looked at the screen and followed directions.  All I have right now is myself, my intuition and guidance stemming from self-confidence and a deeper essence which I like to call the Universe.  I can of course make friends and ask help from others, but ultimately I must trust myself and be a sturdy, centered being who can solve her own problems and not let outside influences derail me from my purpose.  This will be great practice in traveling and overall self-growth.  I look forward to my travel buddy coming to meet me in a few weeks and I look forward to strengthening my connection with myself and my spirituality.  Thank you Paul. Thank you Universe.  Thank you Kendra!


Waking up to Morning Magic

My Shamu snuggy blanket keeps me warm