Before our state-side stopover, we spent six weeks climbing in Tonsai, Thailand, a little slice of climber paradise. With its beach-side climbing, friendly locals, and a great vibe, our visit did not disappoint. The limestone climbing was especially fun for me–it’s an area with plenty of easier climbs and lots of people to try them with!
Enjoying a big swing after sending King Cat on Cat wall, looking out over Tonsai Bay
Postcard perfect: a long tail boat docked at one of the more remote islands
Tonsai has been on the climbing map since the mid-90s, and it continues to attract visitors from everywhere. Out of all the places we’ve been, this certainly has the most eclectic international scene. Even low season had a core community of climbers.
Kiwis, Aussies, Argentinians, Europeans, Dutchmen, South Africans and Americans: some of the Tonsai crew on a day out snorkeling
Low season generally means more rain, although in the past few years, global warming has stirred things up a bit and the weather is now anything but predictable. Lucky for us we only experienced a few multi-day downpours separated by long periods of sunshine. Afternoon storms were a regular and welcome relief from the heat and humidity.
An afternoon storm prepares to unleash its fury
Aussies Nicky, Mic, and James chilling at the infamous Freedom Bar. Sea views, mango smoothies, and climbing all within easy reach
Tonsai local Kay styling on Spanish Wreck
Steve fighting through the humidity on Just Call Me Helmet at Tyrolean wall
The fluffy spectacled langur monkeys could out-climb us all
The Macaques monkeys are definitional trouble-makers. Unlike the spectacled langurs, who only eat leaves, these guys will eat anything. Though well-known banana stealers, one especially cheeky monkey took a loaf of banana bread right out of a friend’s hand!
Thailand isn’t really a camping place. Instead, we stayed in bungalows and left the cooking to the locals. Tonsai has plenty of restaurant options, although we found ourselves most often eating from one of the “Chicken Mamas”–Noi, Na, and Maya–who serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner from their tiny shacks along the main walkway. The mamas work tirelessly everyday of the week, from early morning till late at night. It’s really amazing to witness the Thai work ethic firsthand.
Crazy Chicken Mama’s sidekick, Na, with her top customer, Ben the Brit, who averaged six meals per day!
Steve on Spanish Wreck
Rainbow-colored, handmade spring rolls in production onshore at the Krabi night market
Canadian Andrew red-pointing No Have at Tyrolean
Canadian Nyle, entertaining us with his improv songs on the Freedom Bar deck
Team Singapore projecting Jai Dum
Steve on Tidal Wave, an aptly named route, as the tsunami reached exactly the level of the top anchors!
Kay treating us to some hair-raisingly strong coffee
Our Spanish friends Yoli and Vanesa, enjoying an early morning swim at Phi Phi Lei lagoon
Learning the hard way at the high tide zenith why our cliff for the day was called the Low Tide wall. Here I am putting my recently acquired ‘Nam skills to work
Steve (finally) finishing his 1999 project, Tantrum
Testing my flexibility on Beauty and the Beast
Team Tonsai back from a snorkel trip
You can view our full set of photos from Thailand here.