Thursday, August 25, 2005

koh phi phi

Long ago as it was, I can still actually remember Koh Phi Phi. The trip down was the usual rip-off - stop at each and every little restaurant for a couple of hours to make sure that you'll buy your water and food from them, waiting around for a couple of hours, and arriving 4hrs after the scheduled arrival time. Even arriving on a grey, mizzly day did nothing to dampen the sheer beauty of the island. It was absolutely incredible, and that was only the open, touristy side, not the protected national park.

Phi Phi was flattened by the December 26th tsunami, and you could still see where the wave rushed through the central narrow stretch of land between the the beaches. Before that, the island played host to luxury resorts and high-end hotels. Backpackers had few places to go. Now, all those resorts have been washed away, and yes, they are being rebuilt, so now is the time for all those low-budget travellers to head to Phi Phi. Not that it is exactly a cheap place compared to the rest of Thailand, even to Koh Pha Ngan (300B a bucket!!), but still, a what price beauty? And besides, you get that warm feeling inside of helping a community get back on its feet every time you buy another banana-nutella roti. What more could one want?

Ah, the beauty. We took a day trip around the islands, and visited Maya Beach, where "The Beach" was filmed, which was truly gorgeous and spectacular. What the movie didn't show, probably because they moved them before filmed, was the huge rocks that are in the water, and hamper the dramatic dash that the aqua water demands as an entry. To go that like is to ensure a painful stubbed toe. Still, the white sands, the karst landscape, the turquoise water - as good as all the pictures.

Phi Phi is known for its marine life, and its one of the two diving centers in Thailand (the other being Koh Tao). Part of our boat trip around the island included some amazing snorkelling (although the standard of actual snorkels impeded my enjoyment of this. I swear mine had a leak in it, because I ended up with many mouthfuls of sea-water) over coral reef. It was so exciting just to be swimming through shoals of gorgeous blue and yellow striped fish (I am sure they were in Finding Nemo somewhere), and Ori managed to spot a moray eel. Unfortunately Kate cut her foot on some coral, which subsequently turned all pussy, but is now clean and better. However, right after she cut it, I grabbed her leg for a joke, which naturally scared the complete bejesus out of her, thinking that I was actually a shark, drawn by the scent of her blood. Funny.

More beautiful beaches followed, as well as a visit to Monkey Beach. This I found hysterical. I have no love for monkeys whatsoever, but the site of two of them going at it (monkey business!!!), and then a group of twenty turning on all the tourists and chasing them into the sea was hilarious. They were pretty grumpy monkeys, but I just found them stupid. What sort of animal which cannot swim chooses to live on a beach?

Other activities available on Phi Phi including cliff jumping (starting at 8m and finishing at 20m) and swimming with black tip reef sharks, which are apparently harmless. The reason I am inlcluding the fact that I didn't do those is to let my mother know that I really am behaving myself whilst travelling, and therefore she shouldn't kick me out of the inheritance! Not that she would do a mean thing like that, but I know that she does worry about me, like all mothers inevitably do.

The nightlife in Phi Phi centred around a bar complex called Hippies. If you are going there, and they are advertising a free bbq, don't bother eating dinner, because it is great, and there is so much food. They had the same guy do the same acoustic set every night, which started off okay, but got tedious. After that, some drinking games, and then a fire show, which was actually fantastic. There were maybe 8 or so koi dancers, and they were actually pretty skilled, rather than the random westerners you see in Koh Pha Ngan do it. After that, the night turned into a blur of buckets and dancing, like all good nights do. Still, the big party was yet to come....

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