On the second week into the trip to South East Asia, and I am still waking up just before sunrise. It is a perk of traveling, when I am home I have to drag myself out of bed for work hours after the sun has peaked over the horizon. Half way around the world and in the opposite hemisphere my eyelids open as the dawn creeps across the sky outside my window. Adventure. No time to waste.
I leave the boys still sleeping peacefully and venture out onto the sandy brick walkway, it is only 50 feet to the soft warm sand of Tonsai beach. There is a cafe where the brick path meets the sand, and I stop for a coffee for the sunrise.
I walked down the beach and over to the east side of the peninsula, where all the good Thai local food is! Raised concrete walk ways were lined on one side with small shops selling knickknacks and cheap island Thai clothing and the other side was the ocean. Not much beach on Railay East, the ocean comes right up to the walk way at high tide. During low tide the water is hundreds of feet out revealing mangrove roots, small crabs, and such. I walked down past most of the shops and stopped at 'Mama's Kitchen', one of my favorite food shacks, for breakfast and internet to check in with the boys. They were awake, starving, and wondering where I was. After connecting via messenger, internet was surprisingly every where on the 'island', they headed over and we all had breakfast by the mangroves and longboats.
After breakfast we explored Railay East's shops and the boys worked on their haggling skills. After working their way a few shops down the pathway, I think they were quiet proud of all the Baht they had saved by haggling the shop owners down on a few pairs of loose fitting floral pants? They were definitely winning. Lol.
There is a lovely beach at the south end of the peninsula with an amazing cave you can swim out to and thru. We were pleasantly surprised by some of our friends from the KL BASE jumping event already exploring the cave. Spent a few hours jumping from rocks and swimming in the warm ocean.
Next on the agenda was a Thai lunch! We filled up on noodles and fruit smoothies. It was a mission to walk back to Tonsai beach at this point as the tide was high and we had to hike thru the jungle with only sandals. All tuckered after a grand morning adventure it was clearly nap time.
After naps we walked down to the beach and the BASE crew was at the Freedom bar, located adjacent to some great caves with over hung climbing routs and directly below one of the exit points for the Tonsai BASE jump. The Aussi and the Viking stopped for drinks with the crew as Keith and i climbed up above the cave and checked out the climbing anchors. Keith repelled down and riged my silks to a set of anchors ten meters above the beach, out away from where the climbers were working their problems. Luckily most of the routs in the cave are 7a or higher, so only a few climbers where climbing there, and we didn't put anyone out.
As soon as I was on the aerial silks, random people started approaching me with inquisitive looks on their faces. Curious travelers, rock climbers, and some of the locals gathered around to watch.
The first to approach me was a woman named Michelle... she was stunningly beautiful in nothing but bikini and sarong, her hair short and wind blown, and her bold personality immediately resonated with mine. She was friendly and open, something you come across more frequently when traveling in far off exotic lands. I think she only meant to inquire about the silks... but we quickly found it was much more fun to have an impromptu aerial silks lesson in a cave on a beach in Thailand with the warm ocean lapping at our toes.
Michelle was in Thailand on holiday and in Tonsai for rock climbing. With a background in climbing she took to the silks like a duck to water. Strong and nimble students are fast to pick it up, she was a natural. It does take time to really get comfortable with the poses and letting the silks hold you upside down but she had a lovely first day. Everyone that I teach learns at a different pace and excels with different strengths. It is so rewarding to watch people try aerial and surprise themselves with what they can actually do!
I ended up spending most of the afternoon teaching all the climbers and passers-by the basics of aerial silks. We all took turns on the silks and the ocean pulled away from us as the tide turned. People came and went either watching or joining in, I think most that took part in the few hours long lesson left with a spark of interest in circus and aerial. Nothing like aerial to give you better body awareness and a certain grace to your every day movements, much like dance and yoga.
Later in the afternoon, much like where I grew up in tropical Florida, the saturated rain clouds that had been brewing over the ocean were upon us. A brisk breeze announced the storm's approach.
Covered in sand and sticky and sweaty from the humidity, I climbed up the silks. The cool breeze tickled my skin and blew the silks out from under me. Hanging twenty feet above the beach, I could see the rain creeping across the ocean. I love the smell of rain especially in a tropical environment, so rich and pure. The salt humid air cut by freshness. I hung upside down and watched it approach.
The BASE crew gathered around after the storm for a group picture and a few of the guys gave the silks a go. Totally nailed it... can't say that they were the most graceful but they certainly were the most energetic!
Such an amazing group of humans. I am so lucky to cross paths with people like this along my journey. BASE jumping and traveling have gifted me the best and closest friends and amazing shared adventures!
After sunset we all headed up to have noodles and smoothies for dinner and then back down to the beach for night caps.
Every night the lights of the squid fishermen illuminate the horizon with an eerie green light. It reflects off the clouds and back lights the islands offshore, creating a beautiful ambiance for the beach side bar. It also was a interesting back drop for photos. Keith got a few amazing shots and then I climbed up with a harness and rope, took down the silks, and repelled down. We went to bed early that night to be up for a sunrise BASE jump the next day.
Blog writings by: Cynthia Currie
Photography by: Keith Smith - Pathfinder Images