Style to Beat the Heat
In case we haven’t mentioned it before, Southern Thailand is hot and muggy. Lows on Ton Sai are roughly 75°F and highs are about 100°F. When we wake up in the morning it’s a cool 80°F and as we sit on the porch having breakfast the temp quickly rises, getting up to 95°F by noon. Shade bathing is one of my favorite activities and Kyle and I have succeeded in continuing to be the whitest people on the beach even after almost three weeks. The beach here is typically short with no more than 5 meters between the edge of development and the water’s edge at high tide. In some cases, like on Railay East, there is a sea wall that is nearly engulfed at high tide. Walking out into the water you realize that the slope of the ocean floor is also very small. You can walk out 100 meters and the water will still be up to your waist. There are also virtually no waves. This leaves the water near the shore with a nice bathwater like quality. The best way to cool off is to go for a swim then spread out in the shade as you dry off.
To combat the heat I also decided it was time for a style change. When I left California I had hair halfway to my elbows and went on a mission to get it cut off. After two days in Ton Sai we headed into the nearest town, Ao Nang, to see if we could find a hairdresser. Armed with a photo of a haircut I found on the internet before I left home we took the boat to Ao Nang from Ton Sai.
Ao Nang is a very touristy place, touristy in the worst possible way in my opinion. The beach is alright, but there are throngs and throngs of speedo-clad men showing off their sunburned beer bellies and complaining about how they are getting ripped off. The overall vibe is pretty negative, everything is expensive and there are endless resorts and hotels.
Having only passed through the town briefly on our way to Ton Sai we figured that behind all the tourism glitz there had to be a regular town. How else could they support that much tourism? Where would all the regular people live? We got off the boat and started walking away from the center of town. We walked with the ocean to our left for a half mile or so then found a good sized road to take up and away from the coast. It was incredible. We found so little “regular” development. As soon as you get passed the tourist center, dense development pretty much stops. We were instantly in the sticks.
Well, we figured, we’re bound to find something eventually, and we kept walking. In another quarter mile or so we found exactly what we needed: a hairdresser on the side of a country road right next to a gas station (two 55 gallon drums with hand pumps). Gold mine! While across the road someone’s pet elephant munched away at the trees, I ventured in to get the majority of my hair cut off.
My hairdresser was very nice. I showed her the picture of the haircut I wanted and she went right to work. Rather than using scissors for the majority of the cut she equipped a comb with some razor blades and hacked away. All the while I spent sweating bullets under the plastic smock alternating between letting myself air out a bit and getting covered with hair and tucking my hands under only to sweat some more. She kept saying “Thailand a very hot country!” knowing full well the reason for my style change.
Kyle was chilling on the porch where the breeze provided some relief. As a bonus the lady’s son had a spray bottle in hand and was mischievously misting Kyle’s legs with it. Both parties obviously enjoyed it.
Most of the way through the cut she said something to her friend who ran and got me a huge lip color sample compact so that I could use the mirror. It was a little hard to see what was going on with a 1 inch by 2 inch mirror but I appreciated it none-the-less.
She finished me off with some textured scissors and gave me a blow dry. In the end I thought the cut looked great and over the last few weeks it has been such a luxury to have short hair.
In addition to the haircut we wanted to get some supplies that aren’t available or are too expensive on the peninsula. We needed fuel, a washbasin, some rope, some snack food and toiletries. From the hairdresser we continued down the road and after another half hour came to a few shops that remarkably had everything we needed. There was also a 7-11. If you ever travel in Thailand 7-11 will quickly become your beacon of salvation. Always air conditioned and full of tasty snacks, we love spending a few minutes zombie-ing around the aisles until we cool off. Luckily there is a 7-11 on every block in most Thai cities.
In the end our trip to Ao Nang worked out but the walk to get out of the tourist development was a long one and the services we found were limited. Our next trip into town we decided to get the bus to Krabi Town instead. Krabi Town is a much denser city and if you walk two blocks from the tourist development you are in the regular part of town with access to everything you could need at a normal price. While Ao Nang may have McDonalds and Starbucks, Krabi has much better Phad Kee Mao.