Monday, September 7, 2009

A Weekend on Phi Phi Island - an adventure that left its MARKS

In Thailand, I have generally stuck to Bangkok and the near provinces around the capital when going for trips.

The big tourist draw-cards of the North (Chiang Mai and the mountains) and the South (the Islands) had not quite won me over yet. This last weekend though, the bf and me decided to go with the flow and try out a typical Thai holiday on an Island in the Andaman Sea.

We chose to go to Ko Phi Phi. Ko Phi Phi is famous for three things.

1. It's shape and dramatic landscape. It consists of two mountain ridges opposing each other, connected only by a tiny strip of sand.

2. The Tsunami. Well, the tsunami hit Ko Phi Phi hard. Basically the wave flushed the isthmus connecting the two parts of the Island, killing dozens and leaving the landscape changed drastically (e.g. less palm trees)

3. The movie "The Beach". It was shot on the neighbouring island of Phi Phi Ley, which is a National Park and on which there is no accomodation. More about this later.

Here you can see what I mean. The Island looks gorgeous and the geography is special.

So we arrived on Friday evening by flying Air Asia from Bangkok to Krabi, then taking the ferry from there. It was like arriving in a different country, or even in a different world, and just a few hours from my home in Bangkok.

The alienation quickly increased when we got on land. Dozens of touts shouting names of hotels, wanting to take us for boat rides and all sorts of other things.

On the way to the hotel, we walked through little streets which could have been in Silom, Nana, Ibiza, Sydney or who knows where. It wasnt like Thailand to me.

Irish Pubs, English bookshops, about 700 diving shops with bare-chested Englishmen wanting to take us for a dive, blond girls wearing hardly anything wanting to give us 2 buckets of alcohol for one, an alleyway of massage parlours, whose masseuses looked like they came straight from the brothels of Bangkok/Pattaya/Phuket and behaved accordingly.

In short, we hated it. Perhaps I succumbed slightly to the island romanticism expectations prior to arrival. I did hope that there would be a bit more quiet on the island, I did hope for a slightly nicer landscape, better beach, less stupid European backpackers surfing the day away on facebook and eating pizza at night...but it was not all that bad.

On the third day, we went on a cruise, paid 500 baht each for a 7 hour trip including lunch and snorkeling gear - not bad!

There were about 20 other boats doing the same and we thought we made the mistake of our lives, but it turned out to be a great day!

Look at the weather and the sights and you know why.

With us on the trip: A young Italian couple with a very well-dressed and extremely skinny, even lanky young man with long hair and skimpy speedos (interesting), a lezzie-couple from the UK, three young silly German backpackers and four Italians between the age of 18 and 60, accompanied with Thai girls/women/brides/sex partners/wives (or whatever).

It was a fun group. Our boat guide spoke no English and didnt even understand my Thai. I think he was Burmese (like so many other people on Ko Phi Phi)

First we went to the above beach to have lunch. The ferry ride nearly made me throw up. In our small long-tail boat, we were rocked like a baby is by its mum when it cries.

Only closing my eyes and telling myself that I was really tired helped me from not handing my breakfast to the fish in the sea.

But it was worth it. You see yourself. This beach was stunning, the colours surreal and even swimming in the sea was nice.

This was only part one though. Part two was crossing over to Phi Phi Ley, where we went snorkeling and anchored to have a look at the famous Maya Bay, where "The Beach" with Leo DiCaprio was filmed.

Between the two islands, the sea got really choppy and I swear there were waves of 2-3 metres right next to my face. I asked the boyfriend whether Thai thinking as such would allow the return to base in case of an insecure passage. I never received an answer because we arrived safely.

Snorkeling was fun, I loved it. It's quite amazing when you go under water with your goggles and suddenly the colourful world of reefs is revealed. Striped fish (I scared some away), back fish, corals, sea urchins and so on.

The boyfriend got scared and hyperventilated. He doesnt like the depths of the ocean at all but he tried to enjoy it at least. Kudos to him for that! I must say that I prefer some depth to the shallowness of the coral waters of our snorkeling spot.

It ensured that I got several bloody scratches on seemingly every part of my body.

Then we anchored and were told to swim to shore to go see Maya Bay. We should take shoes. I jumped into the water and swam, using my two flip-flops (thongs for Aussies, jandals for Kiwis) as paddles.

It didnt really work. The waves were high and I got more than a fair share of salty water in my mouth. Ew. Getting onto my feet and onto the shore was much more difficult than I ever imagined. I was simply swept around by the waves and my body indiscriminately scraped the corals and rocks wherever it wanted.

Others didnt fare better. Some shouted and there was genuine danger. The waves were high and some people were smashed onto the rocks. Most of us bled by the time we were back in the boats. The boat man smiled and smoked a cigarette. He then told me that the waves are not usually that high. Thanks for the warning, mate.

I now have a bruised arm, back and knee. I hope no American ever has injuries on such a trip, the Thai company would be sued for millions probably.

The journey back, despite our boat merrily rocking in the moody sea, seemed tame. We stopped in the middle of the passage and most of us thought we were out of petrol. The more sane people among the party were worried, the German backpackers hollered in excitement.

The boat man said: " Youuuuu - sunset!!!" We stopped to watch the sunset, how nice. And it was a beauty!

So that day turned out to be an adventurous and fun day - and it has literally left its mark on both the bf's and my limbs.

More about the gay stories of the trip and my thoughts on Ko Phi Phi tomorrow. Let me have a good rest first, and someone put cream on my wounds please, ouch!!!!


Anonymous said...

Famous for four things youngster. Long before The Beach, The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed there as well, though the villain's lair was blown up in the studio. This was back in the 70s, before you were born. :)
The problem with pristine Thai islands is that when they are "discovered" by farangs, they don't keep it to themselves but shout it from the rooftops, meaning the island is quickly ruined by other tourists and Thais wanting to make a quick buck.
And yes we'd love to see pix of your BF n his skimpy speedos. :) - Ian

BB said...


I didnt even watch neither care for "The Beach" anyway. :) but I love James Bond (at least the old ones)

The problem is certainly on both sides, I will discuss this in the next post. The farangs dont care one bit about where they are as long as they have sun, beach and booze. The Thais dont care one bit as long as they get money.

they should find a middle way....

and dont expect porn:)

Prkmk said...

Sorry to hear that you and your bf got injured from the trip. What you described with all the waves was quite dangerous though. So, Phi Phi Island is not the same that I knew 15 years ago...Any way, I just can't wait to read all your juicy gay story from there! full details please...