Koh Phi Phi rocks. I read so many blogs about the island and we were hesitant to visit it in case it was over commercial and expensive. However, albeit commercialised, and full of young twenty-something tourists, it’s vibey and fun and if you look hard enough you can still find a few good deals. Jade, Marion, Trist and I arrived on the ferry at around 3pm, me sick as a dog after the rough sea between Phuket and Phi Phi. After a short walk, and a chat to a helpful dive instructor from Melkbos, we found a little bungalow for 300 Baht per double room and dumped our packs. Next we found a local shop for some Pad Thai and finally, headed for the beach. The sea was a beautiful clear blue and the sun was just starting to set, a perfect picture to represent the beauty of the Andaman Islands.
This time of year, the island is busy enough to warrant a party, but not too busy that you feel like you’re in a crowd the whole time. In the evening, Phi Phi brings out its dancing shoes and the beach is filled with fire poi dancers, the many bars pounding out a different set of tunes every 20m along. Each bar even has its own games bringing out the neon-light-covered limbo poles and the long neon skipping ropes. It seems as though Phi Phi celebrates in full moon party style every night.
The main Phi Phi island is called Phi Phi Don and it is the only populated island in this set of Andaman islands 50km south of Phuket. Phi Phi Don is fairly small, only about 3,5km wide and 8km in length. An even smaller island close by, called Phi Phi Leh, hosts Maya Bay, an azure blue bay of water famous for its use in the film “The Beach.” These islands are all part of Hadnopparattara-Koh Phi Phi National Park, which is home to an abundance of coral and marine life.
Determined to make the most of our only full day on Phi Phi, we woke up early and took a walk up the near vertical steps to the view point overlooking the two bays in the south of the island, Loh Dalam and Ton Sai. Glowing, as my mother would say, and in need of a nice cold smoothie, we sat at the top admiring the beauty of the blue bays below. From the top, you can see why almost 2000 people died in the 2004 Tsunami that hit South East Asia. Besides the fact that it happened right in the middle of Thailand’s busiest tourist season, the main tourist stretch is right across the flattest part of the island between the two bays, and the wave crashed straight over the town, smashing everything in its path. The town has been rebuilt since, and is completely pedestrianised, with little pathways running between the shops and hostels. Walking down the narrow pathways is one hazard after the next as you dodge bicycles, luggage trolleys, dogs, cats and people!
After recovering from our walk back down the side of the mountain, legs quivering and all, we decided breakfast was in order. We found a nice little café for pancakes, toast and boiled eggs, not to mention more fruit smoothies, one of Thailand’s best inventions. After breakfast we headed straight for the beach, and claimed a few of the sun loungers, while Trist set up his hammock in the shade behind us. Working on our tans, and dipping in the 25-degree water every now and again, we passed through the morning and left the beach in time for lunch. We had been dreaming about monster chicken burgers, that we’d sampled the night before, so we headed off in that direction, only to find the place was closed! Disappointed but determined, we soon found another chicken burger-maker and sat down for a hearty meal, and for only 80 Baht each, these fried chicken, dripping with sauce burgers are definitely something to write home about!
The afternoon was spent on a long boat tour – for only 200 Baht each, including a bottle of water and some pineapple, we sailed around Phi Phi Leh, stopping along the way for a snorkel and to admire the crystal-clear blue water. We saw lots of beautiful coral reef, clown fish in their anemone homes, triggerfish, angel fish and some beautiful yellow and black striped jobs that swam around us as if we were part of the furniture! The only fish we felt sorry for in this fishy paradise was the small black-tipped reef shark that some despicable Japanese guy had bought from the market and proceeded to carry it around in a bag, pulling it out to pose for a few photos and to push it into people faces to scare them… Doom on you, doom on you, doom on you!!!
From there we headed to Maya Bay to see the famous beach that people now flock to after Leonardo Di Caprio filmed the movie on the island back in 2000. It is a spectacular sight, with enormous limestone crags towering over the bay and the sea a mixture of aquamarine and emerald colours. We sat on the beach for at least an hour, watching the other tourists playing the fool and enjoying the sunshine. Just before sunset we headed back to the mainland and watched as the sun made its way down towards the sea.
For dinner we headed to the well-recommended Papaya restaurant, where the food was delicious and abundant, for a pittance I might add. As it was Marion’s last night in Thailand, a few celebrations were in order, so we relocated to the beach once more to enjoy a couple of cocktails, a bucket and the fire shows. Trist even managed to win a bottle of suspicious looking “premium white spirit” after trying his hand at the limbo and being one of two people to make it under the pole without falling over! We danced the night away to the Waka Waka and even a bit of drum and bass to top it off.
The day we left, (Jade stayed one more night) the sun ran away and the rain came out, making it even more humid than before. We spent the morning breakfasting, shopping at the market and had one last swim in the sea before getting on the ferry back to Phuket. By the time we got back to Phuket, there was just enough time to get Marion checked in on all her flights, find her a shuttle to the airport and make a run for it! Getting there just in time, dripping wet and sticky hot, we said a quick goodbye and waved her on her way. Her visit was too quick, but lots of fun, and it we were sad to see her go!
We are spending this weekend in Nai Harn with some friends, Lindsay and Hayley that are living and teaching here in Phuket, and Karen and Ronan who are working in Singapore and are coming for the weekend and Jade, who is leaving back to SA on Tuesday. We’ve found a little house for 400 Baht a night with a mini kitchen and all, so it should be a fun-filled weekend. I’m sure we’ll have lots to share before we leave Thailand next week and head to Singapore.