After years spent in Malaysia, Iraq and Hong Kong, Pascale first discovered Railay Beach in 1989. At the time, the peninsula was inhabited – except for a few housings built close to the shore. Indeed, in 1985, a small international group of visionary utopists strived to create an isolated community, enclosed between the jungle and the sea.
The dream didn’t last long. Soon, the word spread, the community became a private resort named Railei Beach Club, and most of the original founders left the stage to local workers and tourists.
Before the crowded boats reach the peninsula in the early morning, and at sunset, once they leave, those who choose to stay can catch a glimpse of what Railay must have been back in 1985.
Into the Wild
Nature is another element that has been very well preserved in Railay. The houses of the Club are immersed into a thriving vegetation. For the first week of our stay, Pascale had generously left us her home, bordering with the tropical forest.
After two months spent mostly in remote areas of Indonesia, we were confident this one was going to be an easy stop and were very unaware of what was ahead of us. Amongst the wild neighbors we met, here are some we won’t forget:
Reptiles: between the giant geckos hanging above our bed and the monitory lizards hiding in the nearby bushes, we had to adapt quickly. Still, we totally panicked when finding a snake in our living room.
Monkeys: we are now experts on the three species living in Railay.
1) Gibbons: gorgeous and colorful, they live high up in the trees. Their morning chant is fascinating. Here is a sample we recorded:
2) Langurs: cute, black with white circles around their eyes and mouth. They are very playful and spend most of their time swinging and jumping from tree to tree.
3) Macaques: brownish, grayish, very close to humans. Too close. To give you an idea, as we were eating lunch one day, a big male macaque appeared from behind the shutter of the terrace and stared at us, as to say: “Can I join?”. Meanwhile, his brother had already made it to the bathroom and, in search for food, he managed to open Julie’s beauty case but found essential oils and homeopathic products instead. As we ran out shrieking with a few pans in hand, we noticed that the rest of the family was up on the roof, patiently waiting for a signal to jump down.
After they paid us a few visits, we eventually figured out two solutions to scare them off: gesticulating furiously and releasing animal sounds without ever meeting their gaze, or taking one of the slingshots kindly offered by the Club. No need for stones, as soon as you pull the elastic away from the forked stick, the macaques run for their lives. While Pascale highly recommends the first self-defense approach, we chose not to lose face, and opted for the second one. From then on, when heading out of the house, our line became: “Keys? Money? Sling?”