Marc and I transferred to Koh Phi Phi (pronounced “pee pee”, not “fee fee” like a little poodle dog) Don, the bigger of the two main islands of Phi Phi (you said pee pee lol) on day 93 via ferry. As per the usual these days, the weather was rainy and the seas were heaving, so the passengers were also heaving. Good one.
Our ferry helpfully slowed as we rounded the smaller island and, for a couple of minutes, the infamous cove from Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Beach” was visible. I scurried downstairs in a hurry to relieve Marc of watching our stuff so he could go take a look, believing this could be our only glimpse of the famous beach. I waited in the bottom of the boat, listening to male and female retching noises as the ferry rocked on the waves.
We walked across the island to our accommodations: “Uphill Cottages”. Man, they weren’t kidding. On a later trek I counted the stairs (110) which doesn’t seem like much except that they are uneven concrete things that sometimes raise your body by mere inches, other times your a heaving yourself up over a foot-tall ledge. With 14kg of worldly possessions on your person, this gets old fast.
Upon checking in we realized I had made a mistake and booked a $60/night aircon room. Unsure what I was thinking, as this was our target daily budget in itself, I made the slog wracked with feelings of guilt and regret- I was firing myself as travel agent, that’s for sure.
Turns out A/C and a working hot shower can be quite nice once in a while, and the room came with a view and access to the pool.
We spent the first of three days laying around on the beach, swimming in the pool and eating instant noodles in our room (7/11 for the WIN!). This island is 100 steps closer to what we thought Thailand would be. It’s still built up, but single-storey this time and only moderate amounts of garbage on the beach at low tide. I can’t help but think it will be way worse next year since we saw so much construction on the hills across from us – a 200-room resort was going all the way up the island.
Finally, a sunny day broke through the gloom, I was feeling better from my cold (Marc and I each have been sick twice so far) so we haggled with the tour guide down the road and scored ourselves a spot on a full-day snorkelling tour in a big longboat.
It took us to Monkey beach, where we photographed people photographing monkeys and saw a really stupid tourist hop off a boat with a bag of bananas, get immediately swarmed with 10-lb monkeys, and ruin it for everyone.
Then on to a couple outlying islands, the best of which was Bamboo island for sure. It had a landing tax for almost the same amount as the whole trip cost itself (400B) but I would say was well worth it.
Next on for a swing by Viking cave, where bird’s nests are harvested for beauty products…
… a stop for snorkelling in an un-named lagoon which we anointed “Garbage Bay” and most of the boat refused to swim in…
… finally arriving at Loh Samah Bay – my favourite of the day. It was starting to rain (hence, no photos from Canon camera), tiny little refreshing drops, and the tide was out. Our boat captain dropped us into the water a little ways from the cliff-face of a shore where a rope net climbed 15 feet up to an observation dock. “Carefully – over – walk- Maya Bay”.
This was an even better way to reach Maya bay than by boat, better than the anticipated swing around another anonymous limestone cliff to catch the famous crystal-blue and turquoise waters. No pain, no gain! Up over the rope net, face-to-tourist-ass, down an ill-maintained boardwalk, past the “Tsunami Zone” warnings and through a little jungle studded with makeshift houses and a surprising brick structure marked “toilet – ladies” with a sign pointing to the jungle trees “men”. A few minutes later the path turns sandy and you are spit out right into the middle of the cove – full of selfie-taking 20-somethings (“Let’s all jump in the air, one – two – three!”), canoodling honeymooners, and parachute-pant-clad-backpackers sitting on fallen tree stumps.
Despite the dull grey clouds the colour of the water was terrific, and we passed an hour sitting in the shallows and just looking around. It’s always fun to travel to a famous place, even if it disappoints you or is just a quick visit. There’s something fun in the “I’ve been there” feeling you get when walking past a travel agency and seeing the posters in the window.