Koh Phi Phi is a small island in the Adaman Sea. There are actually two islands- Phi Phi Don is where there is a town, hotels, souvenir shops and an active beach party night life; Phi Phi Leh is a national park reserved only for day tripping and reef side snorkeling. If any of you are familiar with the film "The Beach" featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, it was filmed here. Considering these islands have probably the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen in my life, it is no surprise a movie about paradise was on location here!
The island is beyond stunning. We have been going from gorgeous beach to gorgeous beach but coming into the sunbathed harbor surrounded by limestone cliffs just doesn't get old. Also, i don't think i have mentioned the water yet! It is a greenish blue that can barely be described and it is hard for cameras to properly photograph... I have never seen anything like it. We have been throwing around crayola crayon names for the last 3 days and none of them seem just right. I think the closest we can come is emerald mixed with sea-foam, with a slight tint of azure.
We got off the boat with no hotel or plans, but when you arrive there are little stands that have walls covered with pictures of all the available hotels on the island. You just browse, point to one and they call and set it up for you. Our hotel, the Phi Phi Princess, was certainly nothing to write home about but if it were any closer to the beach we'd be sleeping in the ocean at high tide. After we settled in we changed into bathing suits and went for a quick swim. The tide here changes very drastically. I may have mentioned before that the water is very shallow and you can walk pretty far out, however, when you leave your coverup and sandals on the sand bar be sure it is high tide... We almost lost a few things! After the water we walked around the tiny town and decided it was time for yet another massage. I would consider myself a massage connoisseur of sorts, and trust me when i tell you the $10 massages here are just as good as any at a top spa, so why not indulge?!
That night we got dressed up for a night on the town. We started the night at a beachside bar drinking fruity cocktails and listening the latest, and not so greatest, Euro-pop. When the sun had set and our ears could no longer stomach the Swedish rap songs, we headed to the other side of the beach to explore the beach party. We knew Phi Phi was a place to party but we weren't expecting this! A strip of beach bars lined the entire shore with lots of lights and music. As we walked up we saw people jump roping with neon light strips, fire flingers spinning and throwing flaming torches in the air, while party-goers sat on foam mats and bean bag chairs watching. There were probably ten beach bars in a row, each with some form of night-time entertainment. Each bar had a big dance floor with stages and scaffolding to dance and swing from. At our first stop we parked it in front of an incredible 8-person fire show and watched in amazement as these young Thai boys did unimaginable things with fire barely scorching their eyebrows. We thought the performance last night had been good, but this put it to shame!
Next, we decided to dance and found that one of the bars was actually playing good music so headed to the dance floor. However, as the night progressed and we met more people, we inevitably ended up on the platforms. It was just one giant ridiculous party. A few hours in, a rainstorm came through and it was amazing- some people ran for cover but we stayed out and danced in it and the strobe lights and lasers lit up all the raindrops and it was really beautiful. After about ten minutes it passed and I felt cleaner than after we showered- I'm pretty sure the water in our room was pumped directly from the ocean. We met so many people from all rounds the world- Portugal, England, India, Germany, the States! We made friends with some French guys and took a break from dancing to play UNO on the beach- I would have thought the rules for UNO are pretty simplistic, but they found a way to complicate it and surprisingly we could never win!
The music was over so we decided to call it a night and head back to our hotel but on the way there we ran into these Swedish guys who are on the male version of our trip- they ate breakfast at the table next to us in Reilay, were at the fruity drink bar a few tables away from us, and then turned up on the beach. The party had pretty much died down by then but people were still hanging out at the beach and we ended up staying out until 6 in the morning.
With only a few hours sleep we were up and having breakfast on the beach. Lindsay made a good call and went back to sleep while Amanda and I went to the Internet cafe so I could keep you all up to date!
That afternoon we had a snorkeling tour set up on Koh Phi Phi Leh. We went to the beach and hot in a long boat with 8 other people and our driver. The distance between to two islands is not far but we were in a little boat and some of the waves got pretty big. Our driver, an experienced long boat captain, thought it was hilarious when he hut the waves the wrong way on purpose and almost capsized our vessel. For you New Yorkers, we dubbed our channel "Nature's 4 Train".
Our first stop was on monkey island
Then we went to a cove and snorkeled, it was very pretty. We saw SO many fish! Parrot, angel, sea urchins, etc....
Our next stop was swimming in a lagoon. To get there we had to navigate a narrow canyon with shallow waters and reefs popping out. Then we were surrounded by limestone cliffs and gorgeous green trees and vines sitting in a pool of emerald green water. I have never seen something so surreal!!! I felt like I was in a screensaver or something. It was so perfect I didn't think these places were real! Anyway, I drove straight off the bow of the boat because I had to be in that water.
The last destination was Maya Bay. Getting to the bay is an adventure all it's own! First you must get off the boat and swim through ridiculously shallow water with jagged coral you can't help but scrape your legs on. Then you must walk on said coral to, no joke, a ropes corse! As you try to navigate the swinging ropes you are also being smashed into rocks by giant waves. Once you reach shore you also must climb many steep stairs, some missing, over a hill and then back down the other side. After a 5 minute walk across the island, you eventually reach Maya. I must say it was worth it, however, if we could have seen the sunset, it may have been perfect. Side note: sadly we never really saw a good sunset! There were always clouds on the horizon that got in the way. The closest we got was that evening on the long boat home, after we had trekked the obstacle course back to the boat.
When we got back on the boat, our captain had fresh pineapple and special bucket drinks waiting for us. A bucket is actually a small children's beach pale consisting of coke, red bull, and Thailand's most delicious domestic rum, Sang Som!
That evening we went to a restaurant on the beach where you pick your seafood from a buffet and then they grill and add whatever spices or seasons you prefer. I had sea bass and Amanda had lobster and it was delicious! I really enjoy Thai food and while I can't go super spicy, I think curry is amazing!
After dinner we went back to the beach for some more fire flinging and dancing. It wasn't as busy as the night before so we didn't stay out too late. However... I had another Captain Jack Sparrow sighting!!! If you don't remember, Melanie and I met the Turkish version on our trip to Istanbul, and now I can say I met his Thai cousin! Next to the dance floor where we were, there was a pole holding up some strings of lights. Out of the corner of my eye I see something small, rather someone, climbing this pole with bare feet and hands with incredible speed. He has dreds, he is tattooed, he had black eyeliner, a head scarf, and black light paint in tribal patterns all over his face... he was AMAZING!!! Once he got to the top he started lighting fireworks and sparklers up in the sky and over the crowd. It was a good way to end our night.
This day was mostly a travel day for us. We woke up, had breakfast, got more massages, and went back to the WiFi cafe while we waited for our boat to Phuket. From Phuket we were catching a plane to Chiang Mia for the lantern festival.
The boat ride was actually quite pleasant. It was a big boat and we laid on the bow in the sunshine with the wind in our faces. I listened to my iPod and had an incredibly pleasant experience. I didn't even mind when it started raining for about 10 minutes. The rain and sunshine dried us off by the time we got to the harbor.
On the bus to the airport, I sat next to a guy who started chatting us up. His name was Preston and he was taking a 3 month backpacking adventure around the world during his vacation period because he has a job where he works everyday of the week for 6-8 months at a time. He had done this before and he loved Thailand so much he came back. I am feeling exactly the same! This place is so amazing, so beautiful, and the people are lovely. I also feel very comfortable traveling in this country. I will definitely be coming back to Thailand and next time it will be for much longer. I see why most people spend at least a month here.
When we arrived in Chiang Mai, we stayed checked in at an adorable boutique hotel. This was the only place/thing we had booked for our entire trip. As some of you know, I am a BIG planner, so you might think it was hard for me to just play things by ear but honestly it's been incredibly liberating and I haven't felt anxious yet!
That night we arrived late and were pretty tired from all our traveling so we just went to bed.
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Location:Koh Phi Phi, Thailand