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Krabi Thailand: The Andaman Sea And Rock Climbing

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Goodbye Koh Tao. Thank you for some of the best memories of my life and some of the worst. With half sadness to leave such a wonderful island and half happiness to start fresh in a new place, we boarded our Lomprayah ferry at 9:30am. We went from Koh Tao to Koh Phangan to Koh Samui via boat then boarded a bus to Krabi and finally a shuttle to Ao Nang. Another long day of travel but I really don't mind it, especially when everything goes smooth and is somewhat on time.

We arrived at the Ban Sainai Resort around 5:45pm and were kindly greeted with an ice cold washcloth, a refreshing Butterfly Pea Flower Tea welcome drink (never heard of it but according to Bon Appetit magazine "it is the next big thing in the exotic beverage category") and a much appreciated free upgrade. We are paying $78 a night here but will be sleeping in a $120 a night room. I just love when that happens. Ban Sainai is a breathtaking resort surrounded by limestone mountain cliffs, lush greenery, lakes and a lovely salt water pool. Not to mention, a ridiculously happy, friendly, helpful staff. They give Thailand the nickname "Land of Smiles". When we got to our cottage, I noticed they provide you with homemade complimentary plantain chips, a beach bag filled with beach towels, a fruit platter and a wide variety of toiletries. Keep in mind this hotel is a 3 star, not a 4 star or 5 star. But so far, it's impressing me to that level for sure. Something tells me the next 6 nights are going to be fabulous.

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After we unpacked, walked around the resort and got our bearings, we headed to the onsite restaurant for dinner around 7:30pm. Since we are a 20 minute walk to the town/beach, we decided to have a low key night and "stay in", especially when the hotel's restaurant is right on a lake in the middle of nature. However, I couldn't handle being outside in the heat. There is something about the hot air that wakes up my bed bug bites and it becomes the most uncomfortable feeling in the world. I am now at 126 in total but who's counting (I sure am). Unfortunately, I got my food to go, left Vinny high and dry and ran as quickly as possible towards the air conditioning in hopes of some relief. This sucks.

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Day 2 - April 16th

We had a lazy daisy kind of day today which predominately consisted of laying by the pool. But it's not just any old pool. You are constantly captivated by the picturesque landscape surrounding the area. The limestone cliffs are calling your name in a very deep, overwhelming yet soothing, calming voice. The palm trees are swaying back and forth providing you with a nice, cool breeze. We had lunch, listened to music, talked then didn't talk, went swimming and ordered mango smoothies. No day is fully complete in Thailand without a mango smoothie.

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After a few hours, we headed back to the room and caught up on some "past due" things such as planning a few day trips while here in Krabi, booking our Chiang Mai AirBnB and applying for our Vietnam visas. That's the thing about traveling, there is always something that needs to be done. At night, we took the hotels complimentary shuttle into town, walked around for a little and bought myself a bottle of calamine lotion for only 27 THB (about $0.77 USD) because the cream I currently have is doing absolutely nothing for me. Here's hoping this is the magic potion. Poor Vinny has to drown me in it. Since he refused to touch the bites, he ended up putting one drop on a Qtip 126 times over again. Although he does huff and puff, I know he's more than happy to help me out (or at least that's what I try to convince myself).

Day 3 - April 17th

Yet another lazy day laying by the pool and catching up on a few things. We are really taking this vacation from our vacation serious finally. Around 6pm, we went into town and watched the sunset from Ao Nang Beach. Observing the people around us was incredibly entertaining. It was like a crayon box with all different colors and shapes. Some sharp, some not so sharp. Some colorful, some dull. Some new, some old. Some in perfect shape, some a little more damaged. I just love how different we are yet we all have two eyes, two ears, a mouth and a nose. With every inch that the sun dropped down, it continuously changed the sky's appearance. These pictures almost resemble a few different nights but they were actually taken in a span of 15 minutes.

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Ao Nang Beach, which is in the province of Krabi, reminds me a lot of Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii. There is a main strip consisting of super duper touristy shops, chain establishments such as Starbucks, McDonalds and Subway, restaurants trying to recruit you to eat there and a "book your ferry/activity here" type of place every other blink. The lights, the noise and the commotion all send an energy shock through your veins and really make you come alive. It's fascinating. The first four countries we visited were so underdeveloped, poverty stricken and foreign to us. But here in Thailand, it doesn't feel that much different than what we are used to, for good or for bad. There's a 7-11 on every corner. English is widely spoken. Tourists outweigh locals, which certainly wasn't the case in India, Nepal, Bhutan or Myanmar. It's definitely a nice break from feeling so removed from the rest of the world but it's also sad because it almost seems as though Thailand has lost itself to tourism. It seems to lack culture. Maybe it's just on the islands though, we'll see.

That night we had dinner at Diver's Inn and ordered Pad Thai (duh) and chicken in garlic and pepper with of course, some rice. Rice is with every meal - breakfast, lunch and dinner. Rice, rice, rice, rice, rice.

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Day 4 - April 18th

After a lovely few days of lounging around, we decided to get our lazy butts off the pool chair and do some exercise (in a fun way of course). I had read that Krabi has some of the best rock climbing in Asia so why not see what all the hype is about. We decided to go with Krabi Rock Climbing (I wonder how long it took them to think up this name), which is owned by a local husband and wife. They picked us up from our hotel at 8am, drove us to the nearby dock, we boarded a long tail boat and made our way to Railay Beach, about 15 minutes away. The scenery heading over there was exactly what I had envisioned for Thailand. Teal blue waters with gorgeous limestone cliffs. No picture can really ever do the beauty of this place justice.

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Once we arrived in Railay, we then walked 15 minutes to Phanang Beach where our rock climbing adventure took place. Vinny used to do some indoor courses when he was in high school and I went rock climbing once before in Alberta, Canada - 7,000 feet above ground. But that was considered "via ferata" which means there are metal foot placements in the rocks to make it a little easier. This time around, there is no help. You have to find your own crevices to put your hands and feet. The only thing saving me from freaking out is that you are in a harness which has a rope that the rock climbing guide is holding on to just case you slip or lose strength. You have to put so much trust in that person because your life is literally in their hands. It was definitely harder than it looked. You have to use so many muscles in your legs and arms to hold yourself up, glue yourself to the rock and stay focused on the mission. When you finally get to the top and take a minute to look around, it's amazing. High above ground, high above everyone else, you enter a world of your own. You see people taking photos of you as you are taking photos of them. I would go and then Vinny would go. It would have been more fun we could have climbed together, side by side, in a race but I'm sure either way it would have ended in a Thai (you get it?).

This is where we started, at the bottom...

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Vinny looking up with fear...

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Not a bad place to be...

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Here I am, gearing up in my harness...

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Don't mind the nasty bites on my upper left thigh, I promise I'm not contagious...

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Sometimes you just want to hide in a rock from the rest of the world...

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And then sometimes you just want to hug a rock, hoping it hugs you back...

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Getting a good stretch in while I can...

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When you finally make it to the top...

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And then look down, trying to appreciate the beauty surrounding you from afar...

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Go Vinny, Go!

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He makes it look so easy...

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Check out those muscles (hehehe)...

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I spy with my little eye...

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Now that my legs were weak and my arms were sore, we decided to grab some lunch to pump some energy back into us. Before we did that, we met an awesome family from India who were visiting Thailand for their parents 60th wedding anniversary. We got to talking about Incredible India, our experience there and how much we genuinely fell in love with the country and the culture. It's always so fun reminiscing on those 7 weeks because it feels as though they were forever ago. After shoving our faces with food, we headed toward Railay West and laid on the sand under a tree with a handful of other people. It wasn't overly impressive of a beach but I think that's because the tide was fairly low. And the water was at boiling temperature. If I would have thrown in a bag of penne pasta it would have cooked in less than 5 minutes. Not very refreshing when it's 100+ degrees outside. It was still beautiful though. No matter how crowded, rocky or dirty a beach in Thailand may be, it will always have a certain glow to it.

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We took a long tail boat back to Ao Nang Beach, walked around the town, bought a new hat to help protect my face from looking 62 and had dinner at the hotel. We had such a fun day taking our relationship to new heights...

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Day 5 - April 19th

Now it was Vinny's turn to buy a hat. But he didn't go for style like I did. He went for functionality and ended up with an awful looking fisherman's hat. I couldn't persuade him otherwise.

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Today we embarked on a full day snorkeling trip with a company called Thalassa. We met at 9:45am (Burger King was the location, I promise we didn't choose that spot on our own) and boarded their speed boat shortly thereafter. We then picked up a few people at Railay West and it was so much better than yesterday. The water was gorgeous and the tide was high. Crazy how just a few hours and a few minor elements can change the vibe. There were 13 people in total in our group. A family of 5 from Italy, a couple from Canada, a couple from Germany and then two girlfriends (friends that are girls) from I believe Sweden or Norway. Our main guide was local and our co-guide was from Spain.

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We went snorkeling in 2 different spots and saw clown fish (aka Nemo), a sand shark, barracudas, etc. I brought the wrong GoPro case with me today so unfortunately I couldn't capture any of the beauty from the underwater. I was so bummed. Such an amateur move.

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Here we are at Maya Bay, which is where "The Beach" with Leonard DiCaprio was filmed back in 1999 I believe. Can you say touristy and overcrowded? But I closed my eyes and envisioned this island with just us on it. Perfection.

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Phi Phi Don & Phi Phi Lei...

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Bamboo Island, where we had a home cooked Thai lunch that consisted of noodles, fried rice, stir fry chicken and veggie spring rolls. A very remote island and once all the Asian tour groups left, you felt you were alone. Crystal clear water.

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Chicken Island (can you see why it got its name)...

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Searching for the meaning of life....

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"Sailing takes me away to where I've always heard it could be. Just a dream and the wind to carry me. And soon I will be free" - Christopher Cross

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That one time you decided to wear matching bathing suits...

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We ended the day back at Phra Nang Beach (where we went rock climbing yesterday). There was an 8 person wedding happening next to us, with a playlist that consisted of 4 songs on repeat for at least 2 hours.

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An entertaining girl having her boyfriend take risky photos of her...

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Fish out of water...

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Who needs food trucks when you can have food boats

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Training for the Olympics maybe?

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And an epic sunset to close out this epic day...

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Day 6 - April 20th

Our last day was spent exactly how we wanted it to be. Just another lazy, uneventful, relaxing day in paradise.

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Overall, we loved Krabi. It's overcrowded and touristy but there's always something to do, something to see and somewhere to be. The day trips help you escape the chaoticness and enter a world of tranquility. These last handful of days were the perfect recipe. A cup of doing absolutely nothing, a tablespoon of adventure and exploration with a pinch of sugar and spice and everything nice. Ban Sainai Resort is one of our favorite new hotels on this trip. The location is amazing, the food is delicious, the room was big and clean, the shower was heavenly, the service was incredible and they don't charge 3% for using a credit card. I highly recommend this place if you are planning a trip to Thailand. Four thumbs up.

Tomorrow we head to Koh Lanta, our third and final island...