A sturdy ferry lurches northwards and brings us back to the mainland, and it’s here that we encounter a trio of beaches so unearthly they swiftly top the list of favoured landscapes we’ve seen in all our time in Thailand.
The days in Railay were days of languor and sunshine, of walking from speckled beach to sheltered cave to teal shallows. Days of an impending end to our stint in Asia, when the space between the upheaval of travel and complete relaxation grow ever thinner. Days of langurs stripping leaves from trees at dawn, their masked faces disappearing into the cliffside jungles as the day’s heat grips and sticks to the surface of things.
Days of rock climbers, dusty chalk on rock faces, ropes rasping and harnesses clinking in morning’s low-angle sunbeams. Ochre-yellow cliffs that rise up from beneath the waters, beneath the sands, and soar up into blue skies, dwarfing everything below. Longtail boats lumbering and swishing into each other, tethered to the shore while their drivers shout and jostle for business along golden shores.
Eager macaques hovering in trees above the wooden tables of beach bars. Days of shuffling through waist-deep water to sandbars, days of kayaking around karst formations in the evening sun, from beach to green-blue cave and back again. Nights of releasing fiery lanterns into the sky, nights of letting go. Days to remember.