Tag Archives: Koh Phi Phi

*Guest Post!* Thailand 7/11 (no pun intended)

So we had an amazing and full of fun weekend in Phuket with our friends, eating, drinking, partying and just generally catching up. Sadly Mari had to go home but she promised to send us a guest post to sum up her fabulous holiday in Thailand, so here it is! :)

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A holiday is never long enough. Especially when you’re constantly comparing your measly two weeks with a whole six months! But sitting at home reading blog post after blog post about someone else’s amazing adventures is more than enough encouragement to set about having your own (or in my case joining in!).

I got a head start in my experience of Thai language, and Thai English, when I boarded my Thai Airways flight in Johannesburg. A vibrantly coloured cabin and a friendly ‘Sawadeekaaah’ was a hint of what awaited me. T and D came to the airport especially to meet me and inaugurated an immediate love affair with fruit smoothies (mango, you’ll always be my favourite!) and putting aside my overall rather stale appearance and loving the fact that I had only a small hand luggage backpack to carry, we set out to conquer –to some extent- Bangkok!

The public transport system puts South Africa’s to shame (not exactly a difficult task I know), where you can chose from a multitude of trains, the subway, metro, the sky train, river ferries and buses; most of which have air-con to help you escape the inevitable perspiration, even if just for 5 minutes. Heaven! And when that fails there’s always one of the now 6000 7-Elevens (ahem Jade clearly our LP’s were actually out of date!) that you can pretend to be browsing in hehe :)

Before I left I bought and began reading the most recent Lonely Planet Thailand. One way to spot a tourist in Thailand apart from the obvious J is the abundant number of these books everywhere.  So it was safe to say I had a couple of ideas for activities. It didn’t take long for it to become a running joke that when ever someone asked about anything Thailand related I would respond with an …’According to the guide book,’ or …‘Apparently blah blah.’ Regular tour guide I reckon hey guys? :D

The first thought that struck me whilst we were gallivanting around was ‘Uh… Do I have something on my face? Because everyone is smiling at me… like, a lot!’ Safe to say, there was nothing on my face, except perhaps a look of incredulousness at the genuine happiness the Thai people expound when meeting and engaging with foreigners. This must be the ‘Thai smile’ that I’d read about!

 Our interaction with both religious and tourist hubs in Bangkok was exactly the kind of exposure we needed in order to negotiate similar places in different areas such as Chiang Mai and Koh Phangan, Phuket and Koh Phi Phi respectively. It certainly helped us to find the cheapest places to eat! i.e. NOT in the tourist zones but where the locals were guzzling traditional favourites!

Night bazaars and weekend ‘walking street’ markets are undoubtedly the ultimate best places to find anything and everything, from ridiculously cheap (and amazing) food to bargain shopping and a mix of quintessential Thai experiences. Massaaaaaage! (< high pitched thai voice necessary here) And wow, if I had had a bigger budget I may have just bought everything!!

I feel like I could spend forever detailing the phenomenal journey that I had, but since most of the stories have already been covered, I’ll just share some of my personal highlights.

  1. Wats (or Temples)

Looking through my photos I think I have more photos of wats than anything else (okay except maybe sunsets). This could be directly related to our having visited Chiang Mai, where – and I quote my LP – ‘it is easier to save your mortal soul than to accomplish more earthly errands like buying toiletries.’ But in all seriousness the utter intricacy and magnificence of every gold leaf covered Thai temple each with their cornucopia of gilded statues and shrines continued to get a reaction out of me.

  1. Markets

Yes I love eating and yes, I love shopping.

  1. Elephants

It would certainly have been a different trip without our visit to the Elephant Sanctuary just outside of Chiang Mai. It was such a magical experience that I will never forget and always be grateful for (thank yooou John and Merle!). Our host Woody was really fantastic and extremely enthusiastic. It was so interesting talking to him about himself and his outlook on life in Thailand, which brings me to my next point…

  1. The People

The impact and influence of tourism in Thailand is overtly evident, but there’s always someone who wants to teach you about their customs, tell you the best places to go, bargain with you or just laugh at you when you pronounce things wrong. Sure there are some tricksters around, but I think we South Africans have got the ‘street-wise’ thing down to a tee.

  1. Island Life

Next time I go to Thailand (and I promise there will be a next time) I am definitely going to do some more island hopping! From the (mostly) pristine beaches, crystal clear water, snorkeling, hiking, waterfalls, zooming around on rented scooters, sunsets, bucket-consuming beach parties, to all the other possible activities: it’s the island life for me!

But why’s the rum gone? Ahh let’s get another bucket! :)

Mari x

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Tonight we’re in Ao Nang in Krabi enjoying a nice little air con’d room by the sea. We’re hoping to fit in a walk on the beautiful beach before we head to Hat Yai and then on to Kuala Lumpur on the train tomorrow evening. By Wednesday afternoon we should be in Singapore with Karen and Ronan. Long trip, but worth it! :)

D x

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Phi Phi Party Paradise

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.

Sunset over Koh Phi Phi

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.

Fire Poi on the beach in Phi Phi

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.

The crystal clear blue sea off the coast of Phi Phi

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!

Panoramic views from the top of the mountain on Phi Phi (Click to Enlarge)

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!!!

A little clown fish in his home

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.

Mari having a go at the Limbo

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.

D x

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Filed under South-East Asia, Thailand