Forget the Greecian islands. You can have the Caribbean. And sorry Grandpa, but Polynesia just cannot compare. Krabi, a seaside escape off the West coast of the Southern tail of Thailand is by far and above the best getaway spot I've ever come across. I recommend at least one week. I only had three days and I feel quite cheated.

Krabi Beach

Krabi is reached via plane to Phuket Island which is much more advertised and thus much less interesting (but still superlatively beautiful). To get to Krabi, you must drive across the bridge connecting Phuket to the mainland and then two hours south down the coast.

Once beyond the over-touristed areas in and around Phuket, the road changes its personality quickly.

The drive inland lays out the Thai landscape in a sprawl of geometry as rice fields and rubber plantations cut the roadside into a soothingly monotonous march of parallel lines and the familiar fractal art of agriculture.

Eventually though you turn westerly again and head back to the coastline. Initially you wind your way through deep valleys defined by gently-sloping, jungle-covered terrain somewhere between hill and mountain.

Once you break out of the valleys you begin to slice your way through groves of immense vine-strangled limestone mesas which violently jut out of the dense forest/jungle like gigantic tree stumps after a logging extravaganza. At the tops of the mesas the thick sweat of the foliage below condenses into miniature rain clouds from which runs off a gentle and constant stream of water which in turn drips off the mesas creating huge and intricate solidified limestone drip spikes which cascade for dozens of feet down the sides.

Krabi Islands

Every fifteen miles is one step closer to Jurassic Park.

At Krabi, we stop at a resort hotel for the night. Soy, Leo (Soy's boss

and friend), Ito and Jessica (two friends of Leo's from Singapore), and Bee (a close friend of Soy) are quite tired.

Since my flight arrived after nine, by the time we are checked in and settled, it is near midnight. further, the group I joined has already been on the go since 7AM that morning.

As you may know by now if you have been following these journals, Soy is a welcome task master when it comes to making the most of vacation time. She meticulously plans activities, travel, and lodging and is always able to make sure that everything runs smoothly and without stress. This is crucial because I am the opposite: a dictatorial, stress-case planner.

What's more, Soy's Chinese bargaining skill means that we always end up with the best prices for everything. This is in contrast to my negotiating skill which is basically this...I simply assume from the start that I will pay an additional 15-30% screw-the-gullible- American markup on anything I buy.

Krabi Boats

At any rate, the others crash right away while Leo and I head up to the town's main strand to explore and find a late night-snack.

I miss Thai food quite a bit since I have still not found a reasonably priced, non-seafood Thai restaurant in Singapore. Fortunately, there are several joints open so Leo and I grab a table for two and I order the good ole standby, Pad Thai with Chicken.

It is nice talking with Leo. Of course, as usual the conversation eventually falls into orbit around our common point of reference, Soy. Leo has quite a few interesting observations about Soy, her daily 9 to 5 existence, and her relationship with me.

Krabi Sea Cave

In the end, I feel very happy about things and my morale, which has been a little droopy of late is bolstered. After our discussion, I am sure that Soy will be able to find a job which is challenging, interesting, and rewarding enough for her happiness anywhere in the world.


As is usual for my recent string of Asian escapades, the next day begins bright and early. We've arranged for a boat to take us out to "Shark's Point" for a full day of diving. The water is that unnaturally

stunning shade of turquoise and though the sky threatens rain, there is no wind and the water is particularly glassy.

After a good hour and a half journey in a long-tail boat for eight, we reach the dive spots, a sunken ship and several reefs in the 35-60 foot range. By now, the sky is sunny but the surface is a bit more wavy.

Krabi Island

At about this point is when the dive master realizes that he is one buoyancy control (BC) vest short. His professionalism is made even more questionable when he decides that all is fine because he will simply carry his own tank by wrapping his arms around it and mostly kicking.

Not to our credit, we are so ansy to dive that we agree. We suit up and put our tanks on. Ito and I backroll off the sides of the vessel. Since balance is tenuous and diving gear is precariously heavy, the dive master suggests that Soy put her gear on in the water so that she does not fall over in the boat.

Unfortunately, in the waves, this turns out to be fairly difficult and to everyone's dismay Soy gets violently seasick and must return to the boat before she faints.

Krabi Afternoon

Like the good and loving boyfriend I am, I see her to the ladder and then give the "OK" sign to descend while she suffers above. (Actually she insisted and even though I felt guilty, at least I was able to describe it to her upon my return. And actually, she returned two days later and had a great dive).

So the dive master happily salvaged her BC and we went down with our hands over our heads releasing the air in our BC's.

The dive was extraordinary. In fact, it is a good thing that I was able to write this description because I am still speechless. Once 10-15 feet down, visibility improved dramatically and a wide roughly cylindrical reef appeared below. The reef itself is built by a chaotic mix of colors. Iridescent blue/green semi-circular fans with radiuses of about 6 feet waved lightly, while strands of bright red fire coral twist around them. Giant clams open and close with respiration and cantaloupe-sized anemones with colors to make most of the reef fish jealous provide excellent playgrounds for the bright orange and white clown fish.

Roti Stand

Buoyancy control is essential because there is not a single inch of reef which is suitable to stand on. Life abounds. Of course, I still prefer animal life to scenery and I was happy to find an equally diverse and stunning roster of fish. My favorites as always include horn fish, cow fish, trumpet fish, puffers and lions. The lion fish are particularly cool because they are so huge and detailed.

Of equal interest are hives of moray and ribbon eels pocking out of crevasses with gaping maws and sleek, spotted bodies.

And then of course the leopard sharks, so common in these waters, are breathtaking. They ominously glide through the water. Even though our guide assures us that they are docile, they are larger than me and it is still a bit nerve-racking to look up and unexpectedly see one slithering through the water above.

Unfortunately, I do not see any turtles, rays or the famous whale sharks typical of the region. Regardless, these are by far the best dives I have ever had.

Afterwards, with Soy feeling much better, we boat back to the mainland with an escort of flying fish which play in our wake for a good 45 minutes.

Krabi Crowd

Rather than going back though, we instead navigate through a chain of mesa islands to a snorkeling grotto and tanning beach with pure fine sand much like that of the Caribbean. After the dive though, snorkeling seem drab. However, Soy told me later that when she went on her dive a few days later, the guide took her to a different location which was so great that she ended up snorkeling for three hours. She guessed that the first guide wanted to return quickly so did not show us the good snorkeling locale.

In fact, her second day of diving was much better in every way. She went with a different company which used a much larger and steadier boat. She had no problems with sea sickness and there was no last minute equipment surprises. Ah well, I'll be back next year.

Islands in the Mist

After diner and a great desert of Roti, we decide to catch a boat taxi over to the next resort which sits on one side of a two sided lagoon (think of an hourglass where the two bulges of island meet in a 400 yard stretch of beach --> jungle --> beach.

Krabi Wall

That night we watch local fire dancers for about an hour and then hang out till midnight or so. Getting a good night's sleep is essential because the next day will be a full day of rock climbing up those very same limestone mesas over the lagoon.

The climbing is great. We rent gear and hire a guide and set upon two advanced-beginner level trails. For me, the routes are not as challenging as I can master but the chance to work on form is appreciated and the view from the top is worth it. Plus, I don't burn myself out. One great thing about climbing in Krabi is that there are many overhang routes to practice on with all levels of handholds so that if you get stuck, you can always cheat.

Soy Finding a Path

Our guide is kind, instructive and very safety conscious and the routes are good. Climbing has been around since 1986 when the first routes were established by French climbers. Since then is has quickly grown to be Southeast Asia's top climb spot.

At noon thought, it is time to stop since we need to hike to the lagoon on the other side of the hourglass.

The hike is actually more grueling than the climbing and begins with quite a serious blunder on my part.

It all starts with my camera jamming when auto-rewinding.. I imagine that the film has jumped its guide pegs. No problem, i figure, I'll just duck inside one of the limestone caverns just deep enough for complete darkness and then manually rewind the film.

I borrow Soy's flashlight and head down. It does not take much before I am in complete darkness so I turn off the flashlight and get out the camera. Manually rewinding the film in pitch black turns out to be more challenging than expected and I concentrate intently.

After a good two minutes of concentration, I realize that I am, that's not it....annoyed is more like it. Perhaps it is just cause I am sweating profusely. I return to the task at hand and try to ignore all else.

No...definitely something is annoying. I know, what is that buzzing sounds in my ears. And wait a minute, why is my entire body suddenly itchy...Oh...Oh no....mosquitoes!!!!

Leo on Boulier

I hurriedly jam the rest of the film in and turn on my flashlight to see a swarm of mosquitoes darting all around me. I gaze down at my bare exposed legs and see that ten or twelve are attached and that there is blood already smeared up and down my calves.

I launch myself back down the tunnel and break out into the fresh air where I commence the great scratch dance which several passing hikers will probably remember with much humor in their own stories.

(It is now two weeks later and I am happy to report no symptoms of malaria or danghi fever.)

Bee Taking a

So I make it back to the group who with absolutely no sympathy commence to laugh wholeheartedly at me and then start their way up the trail towards the vista point and the hidden lagoon.

The hike is awesome. many sections are passable only by using ropes but the view from the top is awesome. In all, the hike is several hours long and we are all covered in brown and green stains by the end. Soy has broken her sandal as well. But we do make it back just in time to catch the water taxi back to the first hotel where Soy's sister and brother-in-law are waiting to taxi me back to the airport in Phuket.

Conveniently, they had spent the weekend in Krabi and were going back to Phuket at the same time I need to.

From the Vista

Drip Spikes

Krabi Mesa

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