“Look!” says my boyfriend. “There’s a lagoon near here. Let’s see if we can walk there!”
And so the idea was born.
We were staying on Ton Sai Bay, in Krabi, Thailand, and the lagoon featured prominently on the painted maps that are scattered throughout the area. Heading to ‘Mama’s Kitchen’ to see what other backpackers had to say to the idea, it wasn’t long before we had picked up Carl (USA) and Stefan (Germany). We stocked up on water and cigarettes, threw everything in the wet bag and then we were off.
It took us a while to find the lagoon, due to nobody been able to answer us in English to give us directions. We were pretty sure we were there when a sign pointed up and to our left, up a sheer climb where frayed ropes hugged the rocks and a stream of water flowed quietly, ominously declaring that this was the ‘Lagoon’.
So we took it in turns, we grabbed a rope each and pulled ourselves up… and up… and up even higher. We reached the viewpoint, a landmark on the maps as the way to the lagoon, sweaty and exhausted. There were some Israelis there – they couldn’t find the opening in the jungle that would take us to the lagoon.
“Maybe it’s this way?” They point in a random direction. We are surrounded by jungle and the only obvious exit is back the way we came.
“Sure. Try it! Give us a shout if it’s the right way!” I reply. They eagerly disappear into the jungle.
We relax and enjoy the view, drink some water and replenish our energy. The call from the Israelis never came.
So we grabbed our bags and headed down the way that the Israelis had gone. We pass an older English couple and we can see they are struggling with the terrain. Every time the woman has to climb over a fallen tree or spiky bush, she flashes us all her pants. As we climb over another slimy, wet boulder to be greeted with a 200ft drop yet again, they give up and head back to the view point. We persevere and find a tattered old map hanging from a tree. Dead end, yet again, but this time at least we have a clue. We need to be walking south -west to be getting near the lagoon. Using the sun we figure it out, and despite our instincts telling us it couldn’t possibly be through all this thick jungle, we soldier on. We climb, we slip, we get covered in mud. We climb up through rock tunnels and discover hidden pathways built by the trees. But soon we are as high as we can go. Only downhill from here.
The way down hill starts as a slippery trail, again with a stream running through it. We are happy we wore trekking boots. We sit on broken trees to slide down the descent on our asses. We pull each other over slippery rocks and over jumps where to fall is not even an option. Eventually we reach the edge of a cliff, deep in the jungle. This can’t be the way!
We look around, trying to find out where we should go, and we hear the Israelis in the distance, below the cliff. It has to be this way. We soon noticed frayed rope leading down the cliff face. The nearest flat piece of rock to stand on is around 10ft below. We take it in turns and encourage each other, give tips on where to place our feet. When we all reach the bottom of the first drop, we have to do it again and again and again until eventually… we are here! We are swallowed up in what feels like the inside of a volcano. The water is bright blue and we are in a tunnel of rock. It’s late in the day so we can’t see the sun. It’s perfect. We wash off the mud and blood and sweat and tears. We swim and smoke and enjoy the atmosphere. We duct tape up Stefan’s foot where he cut it on a thorn and then the mosquitoes arrive and we’re off.
Using the ropes we nervously climb back up each part of the cliff in stages, allowing everyone to rest on the way. We don’t get lost on the way back, we are focused on reaching our goal. A hot shower. A fish BBQ. As we descend where we entered the jungle we are relieved to see tarmac. A group of backpackers see us exit, covered in mud, soaking wet and Stefan with his taped up foot in a plastic bag. They decide against the lagoon, for today at least.
Written by Tat Jones
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