Rock Climbing in Railay: Not for me. And that’s okay.
“You’re a quittahhhh.” The shirtless Australian climbing guru slash London investment banker draws out his insult slowly.
I take off my sunglasses and glare at him, my bloody eye still raging from the Muay Thai fight over a week ago*.
“That’s not the eye of a quittah,” he sheepishly replies.
I wanted to like rock climbing. I really did. And I was in the best place in the world for it — Railay, home to the giant limestone cliffs you see on every advertisement for southern Thailand. Rock climbing experts and beginners alike come to Railay to scale these gorgeous rocks.
Cody had introduced me and his friend Malin to two of his rock climbing friends, James and Pete. The two of them are hardcore climbers, spending much of their time in Railay. Sadly, I had said goodbye to Matt the day before, who left for Iowa via longtail boat.
As soon as the rain cleared up, we rented equipment and staked out a cliff. And I was up first. Bottoms up!
I got up. And…I wasn’t enjoying it. Not one bit. Not one aspect.
I hated feeling the strain in my arms. I didn’t like being flustered when I couldn’t find a new place to step. And most of all, I was being tortured by my climbing shoes, which bind your feet tightly, keeping them slightly pointed.
Those SHOES! Climbing shoes are supposed to be extremely tight, and I understand that, but these were like a new form of cruel and unusual punishment! I couldn’t even think because the shoes hurt so much!
Ironically enough, the heights factor didn’t bother me, which is most people’s problem. Time passed. I climbed. I rested. I got frustrated — for one of the first times in my life, I was not enjoying one aspect of this experience. When was it going to get better?
It didn’t get better. I remained halfway up the rock, completely miserable.
“You know, I’m done,” I said eventually. “Bring me down.” And I didn’t go back up, despite much encouragement and cajoling from my friends.
Let it be known that Adventurous Kate absolutely sucks at rock climbing.
This was the first real adrenaline-pumping adventure that I opted out of halfway through. I’m not proud of it. In most circumstances, I’d go back and try again — here, I didn’t even want to get close to the cliffs again.
But I’m okay with it. I tried and profoundly failed, but at least I tried. It’s not like I haven’t done adventure activities before — I’ve jumped off a few cliffs in Switzerland, zip-lined through New Hampshire’s mountains, gone skinny-dipping in a few places that shall remain nameless.
Plus, I got punched in the face in the Muay Thai fight — and went on to fight two more rounds, even though I could barely see through my left eye.
You can’t say I’m a total embarrassment.
My friends climbed awesomely. I hung out, cheered them on, played on my iPhone, took a stroll to the beach and back.
“Reach high!” a nearby guide yelled. “Put both hands in the crack and pull!”
That’s when I learned that rock climbing is the perfect sport for “That’s what he said”-isms. I couldn’t hold back the giggles.
“You think that’s good?” James asked, a wicked grin on his face. “A lot of first-time climbers don’t realize how much the shoes protect them. That’s why I say, ‘Just spread your legs and trust the rubber.’”
“Ohhhhhh, there it is!” I crowed.
Rock climbing. Maybe I could get to like this.
*The Muay Thai fight post is on its way. It will be posted as soon as I’m able to upload the video.