According to the in-flight magazine that inspired our trip to Railay, Krabi’s rock climbing is unparalleled.  Climbing enthusiasts dream about scaling the limestone cliffs surrounding the beaches here, and just about everywhere you look are people and monkeys dangling from seemingly impossible places.

Our Lonely Planet guide had informed us that somewhere along the walkway between east and west Railay beaches is a path to a viewpoint of water on both sides of the peninsula.  We found it — and initially dismissed the “path” as a rock wall.  In fact, it is such a steep path that several ropes have been installed along the way as handholds. So the climb is rather invigorating and, once you’ve reached the top (and the spectacular view), there is an even more difficult climb down to a tidal lagoon called Sa Phra Nang.  I never did make it past the last 15-foot cliff before the lagoon, but Her did and said it was beautiful.  If you do go, don’t wear flip flops.  We did and it made the climbing much more difficult than it had to be.

That was our first full day in the area. On the second, we adopted “When in Rome” attitudes and signed up for a US$25 per person, half-day climbing course through The Rock Shop, the oldest rock climbing school on Hat Tonsai. Our teacher, Pipe, led Her, myself and two French girls toward our target for the day: a 90-foot rock wall in the middle of the peninsula.  Pipe proceeded to explain the necessary knots and how the person waiting on the ground belays the person climbing.  My nerves started to get worked up while watching Her struggle to first make the necessary knots and then do the exact opposite of Pipe’s commands while acting as the belay person (Note from Her: Wait! I don’t remember this part of the story!)  Thankfully, Pipe assured us that on our first day as climbers HE would do the belay work for all of us.

Each member of our group took turns completing four climbs of increasing difficulty.  By the end of the third climb, my arms felt like Jell-O. During the fourth climb, I struggled to get past the first difficult spot on the wall!  Rappelling down the rock wall, which was quite frightening at first, was a welcome relief to my shaking, chalk-covered arms.

After nearly four hours of climbing, Her and I trudged back to our side of the beach and rewarded ourselves with Panang Curry and fried rice served in a pineapple.  We also purchased two giant bottles of beer with plans to lounge for the rest of the day on the beach, watching the tide go in and out.  Our intention was to spend the entire next day relaxing, too, but around 5 p.m. our plans drastically changed.

“I don’t think the beer is agreeing with me,” Her said, “I’m going to lay down for a bit.”

By 8 p.m., Her and I were taking turns “praying to the porcelain god.” Thanks to the rock climbing, each retch reverberated as a menacing spasm in our sore abdomens.  We were utterly miserable.

Sometime around 2 a.m., Her managed to keep down some water and get to sleep.  It took me three hours longer. We remained in bed the entire next day, consuming only sips of water.

I will never forget that damned pineapple.