A major travel day! Or at least one of the most varied travel days we had.
We woke up early and were down in the hotel lobby by 4:40. The lady at the desk understood very little English, so it was difficult to know that our tuk-tuks were coming, and whether they'd be on time. It was like she'd called for them right when we'd gotten there. They did eventually show up (two of them), and we were off! It wasn't a long drive to the hotel pickup location, but it much much nicer in a tuk-tuk than it would have been if we'd walked.
I don't think I'd mentioned this, but when we were on one of our flights from Chiang Mai to Siem Reap, Brandon's phone had mysteriously stopped working - gone completely dead. It wasn't until we arrived at the pick up hotel that it mysteriously started working again! It worked the rest of the trip and hasn't done that since, though we're still not sure what happened.
We waited for maybe half an hour at the hotel where we'd be picked up before the van arrived that would take us from Surin to Buri Ram. The drive between cities was about an hour. When we arrived in Buri Ram, they dropped us off at a tiny airport. We checked in and then waited for awhile before they'd open security to let us through. There were SO many mosquitoes in that lobby. Finally we could pass through security (#6) and waited for a short time in the "terminal" area before our flight boarded. Nok Air, who we'd purchased our transfer from Surin and the flight to Bangkok, is a very small airlines. At the airplanes were small too! Brandon and I were able to get our packs into the overhead bins, but Duane and Shauna's, both a little fuller than ours, had to go under our seats, where our feet would normally be. But they fit down there!
Arriving at DMK (Bangkok) we again had to do the switch between the arrivals terminal and the departures terminal. It was a little confusing to find the right area that we were supposed to be in. But when we finally did, a gate agent was very helpful and got all our tickets printed out to and from Krabi, so we wouldn't have to check in again when we came back. She was also "helpful" enough to take us over to a tourism desk where they tried to sell us several inflated excursion packages. Brandon was firm in saying that we weren't sure and we'd wait and see what we wanted to do when we got there. But we did let them arrange a transfer from the Krabi airport to our hotel. I think it was 2300 baht? About $64 for the four of us?
In hindsight, we're very glad that we didn't book anything else with them as it was extremely inflated. Well, not crazy inflated on the ecursions, though definitely more, but our transfer from the hotel back to the airport a few days later was 1200 baht, or about $33. So the tourism desks transfer was way inflated - and not as nice.
Anyway! We went to the gate area (after security #7) and hung out for awhile, wandering to find food when we were hungry. There was brief confusion over whether our gate had changed, though it was really just the flight before ours that had changed. There were so many Brazilians headed to Krabi! It was a little strange to be surrounded by Portuguese speakers. Also, for the record, Americans have a bad reputation for being terrible tourists - loud, doing things they're not supposed to, never even trying to speak the languages of the countries they visit, etc. While I'm sure that is all true to some extent, we are not the only ones. I think I mentioned this in an earlier post, but there were a lot of Chinese and Brazilian tourists most of the places we went. And both were loud.
Finally on the plane, our flight was quick and we were in Krabi! We put on our little stickers that would help our transfer company know it was us and went and found our ride! It was easy as he was holding up a sign that said, "Duane Woodmansee" on it. Our ride to the coast was fine, though it was occasionally clear that our driver did not know exactly what he was doing. But he took us to a pier, told the ticket man where we were going, and paid for it. We were a little confused, as we'd expected to go to a pier on the other side of the Railay area (where we'd be staying). And then we never actually received the tickets for the boat, so while we waited I was a tiny bit concerned about that. But we got on the boat without any problem (a longtail) and headed over to Railay! And it turned out that we were on the correct side of the coast, as after disembarking, we had to walk about thirty feet from the end of the dock to be at our hotel entrance.
Of all the places we stayed, the Sunrise Tropical Resort was easily the nicest. And the most expensive (similar to the price of a room in the states). We checked in and then headed over to our little villas. As I'd mentioned before, most rooms we stayed in only had the AC/electricity on when we put our key card in the slot provided. Here, luxury of luxuries, even while we were gone with our key, the air still stayed on. :) Our beds were in a slightly raised part of the room that slowly descended in portions of the room to the bathroom.
We relaxed for a bit and spent awhile enjoying the rooms and their AC. Brandon and I then asked the staff about laundry and they said they could do it through the hotel. However, after they looked through it and filled out the laundry form, the total was going to be crazy - like $33 for less than 2 kg of clothes. We asked them if there was anywhere we could get it done and they told us there was, somewhere else along the little Railay area. They gave us some sort of directions and we wandered off to explore. All of the "roads" in Railay are basically just alleyways and pathways through hotels. We wandered along one of these from the East beach (where we were staying) to the West beach (Railay Beach). From there we wandered up a bit to a little walking street where there were various shops and restaurants, including a laundry place! The total for our laundry there was about $5. We also stopped in at a rock climbing place, as well as many other excursion places to see how consistent the rates were.
We headed back to the hotel and then went to dinner with Duane and Shauna. Since the rates for excursions were pretty similar around the little inlet, we went ahead and booked our tour for the next day through our hotel. Phi Phi Islands, here we come!