. As soon as I grasped what was going on, I immediately let go, as a monkey in your face is not nearly as cute as a monkey a few feet away. And after all that, the greedy guy didn't even pose for a picture! He ran off to another log with his stolen banana, and I swear he was laughing at me. Well, as I always seem to be saying, it was an experience. The next day, Dawn, Lou, and Charlie decided to do an introductory dive course, so Sorcha and I went out to Bamboo Island by ourselves. We could not have asked for a better day! The sun was shinning, the water was a beautiful blue, and Chat, our longboat driver from the day before was just as delightful and fun as the day before. He took us to some great snorkel spots along the way, and I got some great fish pictures trying out my new waterproof digital camera. It was awesome...even if the fish did get a little scary rushing at me trying to eat the strange silver thing in my hand. And then I finally found that beach I've been looking for since I arrived, the beautiful Thai beach that I've been imagining for a year. And that little piece of paradise was Bamboo Island. Green forest, white sands, clear blue water, and no people to speak of. Sorcha and I couldn't believe our luck. We couldn't have imagined it to be any more beautiful! But getting back to Phi Phi I was struck by the contradictions of the place. A year ago Phi Phi was absolutely devestated by the tsunami, hit from both sides by the wave split in half by the very limestone-walled islands that make it such a beautiful place
. And though there is still a lot of beauty to be found there, one senses that what I have seen the past couple of days is just a shadow of what the island once was. Beside crowded bars are construction sites and open sewars, many of the palm trees are gone or dying, and there are pictures of the devestation hanging everywhere. There is this sadness in the air of an entire population who lost everything and who are now trying to fight to regain what they once had...even if they can't bring back the loved ones who perished. I am sorry that I judged Phi Phi so quickly and negatively on my first overnight stay here. After what the people on this little island have been through, who am I to judge their efforts? I admire the amazing strength that was required of the Thai people to pick themselves up and start again to re-create paradise. I have no doubt that someday Phi Phi will be as beautiful as ever.
So, back in Phi Phi, the place I had hated on first sight has now kind of grown on me. The first day here with the girls we hired a longboat and went around Phi Phi Ley (or is it Don? I always get confused...) and saw Monkey Island, Maya Beach, and just took in the scenery of gorgeous limestone walls topped with green forests. It was a fun little cruise, and I love longboats, but Maya Beach ended up being nothing like what it looked like in "The Beach" movie. Monkey Island was pretty neat, though it felt kind of wrong to be feeding the monkeys like that. One was so fat he looked like he was about to pop. We called him Fatty. And we were trying to get a picture with the big guy, but he kept moving, so one of the Thai guys working there throws this banana to him. But he overthrew it, going over the monkey's head and landing in my hand. The other girls immediately jumped back, but I was just so surprised that I stayed put. The next thing I know, Fatty is leaping at me, grabbing the banana in my hand