Well for the first time in nearly nine months we were reduced to bus travel. Actually the VIP bus heading to Krabi is quite comfortable and only a few dollars more than the regular buses. We caught a Sunday evening red-eye and in the morning we awoke in Krabi Town. Krabi Town is the capital of the province of the same name. It has no beaches of its own, rather it sits upriver from the sea and functions mainly as a port for boats taking tourists to islands such as Ko Phi Phi and Ko Samui on Thailand's Andaman Coast. It also services destinations on the mainland that cannot be reached by road. I had developed a little infection in my hip, so the first day we just hit the hospital to get some antibiotics and spent the remainder of the day just resting after our bus ride. The following day we grabbed a cab for the twenty kilometer ride to Ao Nang. Ao Nang had a passable beach (below), but what is more important, it actually had people that lived there. Many of the best beaches in this part of Thailand exist solely as tourist destinations, and the only Thais found there are people in the hotel and food service industries. Arriving as we had just as high season ended, we were able to get reasonable prices, but also were left dealing with people who had just spent six-months dealing with demanding tourists. In Ao Nang we found a tiny place back from the beach that was run by Italians formerly from Venice. The food, needless to say, was like a letter from home. We made Ao Nang our base, and rented a scooter to get around.

The inlet at the end of Ao Nang beach is a harbor for these long-tail boats that run to the near islands as well as to beaches not accessible by road. It is also a port for larger boats that head to the more distant islands of Ko Phi Phi and Phuket. After a few days we took one of these long tails for the short ride to Railay.

Railay is a peninsula seperated from the mainland by towering karst formations that make it Thailand's premiere destination for world class climbing. Although the walls here looked really inviting I was reluctant to chance any further trauma to my hip. The south end of the peninsula, though, had another formation that had a permanently roped route that followed up alongside a run-off, and we were able to scramble up some real easy grade five to a beautiful viewpoint where we could look down at the beaches on both sides of the peninsula (below). Railay's western beach (at left in the photo), hosts most of Railay's more upscale places, while the less expensive eastern beach attracts budget tourists and backpackers. The east side's shallow beach becomes more of a mud flats at low tide.

The jungle at the top of the karst at the peninsula's southern tip, was like walking into the pages of Lost Horizon (above and below).

The sunsets at Railay's west beach are legendary, and just a few minutes away by long tail is the island of Ko Poda. There is only one place to stay or eat on Ko Poda, and no electricity. Karen and I came out by sea kayak. We were told it would take about 45 minutes, but it took us around twice as long. The water was as clear as I have ever seen and for the better part of the day we had the beach to ourselves (below).

We got a text message from Yut that he was sending 150,000 baht to Krabi town in the morning, so we returned to the mainland and I took a scooter back to town to check in at the post office. When I arrived though there was only 50,000 and a text message that said his friend hadn't showed with the money, and that he was sending his own money. He said he would try to send some more in a day or two. After the two days had passed without word I was getting concerned. I called Yut and told him we were moving on to Phuket, and he could send the next installment to the post office there. I had to remind myself that he still had more than a week on his deadline.