Koh Phi Phi

Trip Start Dec 29, 2007
Trip End Dec 12, 2008

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On Friday, my last day at the Wildlife Rescue Centre, I was joined by my sister Jill and our friend Ellie, who had come to Thailand on holiday.  It was great to see some familiar faces after so long away from home and I really enjoyed catching up with them.  We spent a day at the rescue centre, and I enjoyed showing them round and showing them some of the animals.  It's nice that they have been here, as I think it's hard for anybody who hasn't been here to imagine quite what it is like, despite any descriptions I could ever come up with.

That evening, I said goodbye to my friends at the centre and Jill, Ellie and I headed to Hua Hin for the night.  We had originally wanted to catch the night train down to Krabi that night, but as we hadn't been able to book tickets in advance it seemed easier to just stay there for a night before travelling.  We went to Sara Jane's, the favourite restaurant of the WRC volunteers, and had some drinks in town before staying over at the Royal Asia, the same hotel I stayed in on my first ever visit to Hua Hin with my friends from the WRC.

The next day was spent by the beach in Hua Hin, and then in the evening we boarded the night train to Surat Thani.  The journey took about 8 or 9 hours, and was far more comfortable than I had expected.  We had beds and air-conditioning and everything was clean, so there wasn't really much to complain about, although as can be expected when sleeping on a train, it was a broken night's sleep and I was glad to get up and stretch my legs in the morning.

Our journey from Surat Thani to Koh Phi Phi was less straightforward.  We bought bus tickets from Surat Thani to Krabi, from where we would be able to catch a ferry to Koh Phi Phi.  The bus stopped once and we were told we had to move onto a different bus, which was fine.  But then the second bus stopped at an office just outside Krabi, and we were told we would have to wait there for the next three hours before they would drive us to the ferry pier.  Well, this didn't go down too well, and to cut a long story short the tired, hungry passengers refused en masse to spend the next three hours sitting in an office, and eventually we managed to bully them into taking us to the ferry pier.  I still don't understand why they tried to keep us there in the first place - it's not like they were trying to sell us anything!

Our first day on Phi Phi was spent sheltering from the rain, and I think we were all a bit worried that we would end up spending all of our holiday time together doing the same thing.  However, the weather cleared up after the second day and we had some really nice weather in which to enjoy the island's beaches and scenery.  Koh Phi Phi Don, the main island on which all the resorts are, is still beautiful despite how overdeveloped it is.  The remnants of the tsunami are still to be seen all over the island, serving as a constant reminder of the complete devastation that this island has had to recover from.  It's sad that the development could not be limited the second time around, because I don't think it'll be long before what's left of the beauty of Koh Phi Phi will be swallowed up by yet more resorts.

We went on a snorkelling trip which was nice, although it didn't compare to the snorkelling sites I went to in Malaysia.  I know for sure now that should I ever decide to take a diving course, it would have to be in Malaysia.  I was happy to be travelling with an eco-friendly tour guide, although I couldn't help but notice how unafraid of humans the fish are, as many of the less environmentally responsible tour operators feed them regularly.  It was strange to find myself becoming part of a shoal of fish every time I remained still in the water.  The highlight was seeing a banded sea snake, which apparently is more venomous than any land snake.  Our snorkelling trip of course took us to Koh Phi Phi Ley, known for Maya Bay, where scenes in The Beach were shot.  Like so much of Koh Phi Phi it is very beautiful but also very gimmicky, with a constant flow of tourists taking "Leonardo's route" down to the beach.  Everywhere you look there are people having pictures taken of themselves jumping in the air, 'just like in the film'. 

The night life in Koh Phi Phi is great, with many cute bars along the beach.  Our last night was probably my favourite night out - the fire show was spectacular and we ended up taking part in fire limbo on the beach, which was as frightening as it sounds!  One girl tried to jump over the pole when it was too low to limbo under, and got stuck in the middle - within seconds the Thai bar staff had her on the ground rolling her over and throwing sand onto her, and she emerged unscathed - although one of the guys seemed dangerously close to smacking her somewhere quite inappropriate had she been on fire!
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