Koh Phi Phi, Thailand.
As my first year of university comes to an end and summer approaches, my mind is buzzing with ideas of new travel adventures for the coming months. A friend and I have been planning a one to two month trip of South East Asia, starting with some of the islands in the south of Thailand and moving on to Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Northern Thailand. However, as money is an issue, this isn’t an absolute certainty quite yet. Fingers crossed though, everybody! As these new plans are coming into place, I’ve been remembering my trip to Thailand last summer. I have written a lot about my time up near Chiang Mai at the Elephant Nature Park, but haven’t really touched on my time down south. Although I only had enough time to hit up one of the islands, my days spent on Koh Phi Phi were fantastic.
After a journey of about nineteen hours, I finally stepped onto Koh Phi Phi. As soon as I stepped onto the port, I agreed with everyone’s claims. Koh Phi Phi was a paradise. Cute villas line the beach and behind it all are lush green mountains wrapping around the island. Huge cliffs of stone and tree surround the beautiful turquoise waters and the air smelled clear and fresh, a contrast to the fumes of Bangkok. Alongside my new travel partner, we wandered through until we found an affordable accommodation and ditched our bags before the exploration began. We went by all of the stalls set up, each selling the same things for different prices, until we bumped into the two Australian sisters that we had met in Bangkok. It turned out that over the five days spent on the island, I would end up bumping into many of the people I met while I was in Chiang Mai, mini reunions everywhere.
Daytime on Phi Phi is beautiful. Hot weather cooled slightly by a sea breeze and the occasional hour long downpour of rain, relaxing on the white sandy beaches and walking around the island with a lemon shake in hand. Although a very tourist infested island, it is still possible to find less crowded areas and with the amount of activities and the sheer beauty of it all, I would gladly return. When the sun goes down, the beach is transformed into a long line of beach bars dressed up in neon lights. Sitting on the cushions at Stones Bar, lanterns lighting the darkness, the four of us drank our Chang beer and watched as Thai performers put on a fire show. The night escalated from Chang to Thailand’s well-known “buckets,” which are basically buckets filled with booze and pop for less than five Canadian dollars, and from Stones Bar to Slinky’s, where a crowd of skimpily clad travelers danced the night away.
My favorite day on Koh Phi Phi was on four hours of sleep and had an unpleasant headache. Carried through the waters on a longtail boat, our first stop was Monkey Beach. The name gives all the explanation that this little beach needs. Monkeys, I realized, although very cute, are a little bit scary. When I stepped on the beach I noticed that one had nicked someone’s lunch and was greedily running off with it! Of course, we had been warned that these monkeys liked to steal people’s possessions. From very tiny babies to very large, old ones, there were plenty of monkeys on this beach. But if you get too close? You might just be jumping into the air in an attempt to escape three monkey trying to cling to your legs and take a bite! I suppose this is good though, because it means that these monkeys haven’t been tamed by the many tourists that pass through here each day.
The final stop of the tour was, of course, Maya Beach, made famous by being the beach in the film The Beach, with my personal favorite Leonardo DiCaprio. Getting onto the beach was the funnest part! The boat dropped us off a five to fifteen minute swim from the shore, depending on how rough the water was. Because the shore is nothing but cliff and sharp rocks, you try to be a bit careful but it’s pretty difficult to do so. Once you get close enough, there’s a rope you can hold on to in order to brace yourself against the waves. As I pulled myself along, trying to avoid cutting my feet on the sharp rocks beneath me, the waves threw me around like a ragdoll as they crashed over us. Finally out of the water and up the steep wooden steps leading over the small cliff, I finally got a view of the island. It is beautiful and the beach is stunning, but it’s not as pretty as it looks in the film. That’s what lack of media enhancements will do, I guess. Nevertheless, it is a gorgeous place! Unfortunately, there are no pictures as I didn’t have a waterproof camera for the swim over.
The swim back to the boat was worse than before! The waves were stronger and every few seconds I held the rope for dear life as I got flung through the water, legs and feet scraping the rocks. We had been so focused on swimming to the boat that it came as a surprise to me when I looked in the water and all around me were hundreds of brightly colored fish! Immediately, I grabbed a snorkel and dove in. One brave little fishie swam right up to my face, stared at me, and swam away! Although we were all bleeding by the end of it, this was my favorite day on Phi Phi. My time spent on Koh Phi Phi was such a contrast to the dense jungle of the north, a different paradise than the one at the Elephant Nature Park. It was the perfect, relaxing, fun ending to my time in Thailand. I met amazing folks here. Although it is a bit over-touristy, it is a beautiful spot and I would recommend Koh Phi Phi to anyone.