Paradise lost!! and the Maya Bay experience
Trip Start Mar 24, 2011
34Trip End Sep 28, 2011
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The ferry was almost full for the one and a half hour journey to Phi Phi Island. When we arrived, the beach that the pier was on was full of longtail boats and i immediately had an uncomfortable feeling about the place. I convinced myself that it was because i had spent so long on Tonsai that i needed to re-immerse myself into the 'tourist' side of things. Again it was roasting hot as we got off the boat. There was a 20 baht fee on the pier 'to keep Phi Phi clean'.... by now i have learned that it actually lines the governments pockets but however there was no choice.
Once actually on the island i asked where the cheap accommodation was (i wasn't paying 2000 baht or £40 a night!) and i found out it was about a twenty minute walk through the island where i found a bungalow for 350 baht (£7)
A German guy called Alex (yet another Alex) was also looking for a cheap place so we shared a room and split the cost. I took a walk around the island as soon as i had dumped my bags off which took a couple of hours i was looking for a nice looking beach to spend the evening on... (relative fail). The two beaches i got to were lined with bar after bar and on Loh Dalam bay there was even a couple of tractors smoothing out the sand. Hundreds of people were sunning themselves on the beach and the atmosphere was 'closed'
As a lone traveler in Asia i have never had a problem meeting plenty of like minded people but here it was a little different. Generally people seemed to have come here as a couple, a family or a group of friends on a two week holiday so meeting people seemed a lot harder. There are also a LOT of 'chavvy' English people here (think tracksuits or full football kit with 'Rooney' or 'Gerard' etc. on their shirt talking about how good they are at DJ'ing... hate hate hate)
Don't get me wrong, the scenery of Phi Phi is lovely...but it's the people that make a place.
...Actually, sod it... Phi Phi Don is dead to me.... that is all!
To try to redeem the situation i had been told that if i did venture here to do the 1 night camping trip on Maya Bay (the one in the film 'The Beach')... i didn't hold out much hope.
I booked the trip for 1900 Baht (a bit expensive i thought at about £38) and had to meet at the travel agents at about 3:30pm. From there a guy who introduced himself as Coco came to pick me up on his bmx!. Standing on the pegs at the back we rode through the town to where the others were meeting us near the Pier. There were 23 of us in total and a couple of guides as we all walked down to the boat.
The small 'speed' boat pulled away from the pier and headed towards the silhouette of Phi Phi Leh in the distance. As we neared Phi Phi Ley the boat stopped for about half an hour for those who wanted to go snorkelling (i couldn't because my arm still had a hole in it). I gave it a miss but most of the others got straight in and checked out the marine life and from the top deck of the boat i could see the fish swarming around them as they swam, it looked pretty cool
The next stop or 'slow down' was at the 'Viking cave' so called because apparently there was an ancient drawing of a viking longboat on the cave walls. We didn't go into the cave but Coco explained that the inside was enormous and was a haven for thousands of swallows who build their nests around the cave walls. The locals then 'harvest' the nests using dodgy looking bamboo 'ladders' and sell them to the orient to make their 'birds nest soup' apparently they sell for $4000 a kilo!!
We reached our final stopping point at around five thirty which was the back side of Maya bay, there was a small access way through the rocks and some people were coming off the island through this route. We had to swim to a set of wooden steps and ropes (holding my arm out of the water) through the small gap and over the rocks, which took us into a small section of jungle and then along sandy jungle paths to the 'big reveal'.... shallow turquoise water, limestone cliffs all the way around, a white soft sandy beach and a bamboo hut for accommodation if it rained.... wow!
About fifteen minutes later a longtail boat arrived into the bay and brought our bags with it, we waded out to meet the boat and collect our belongings and bring them back to the shelter
The beach was empty of tourists and boats so the 23 of us had the whole island to ourselves for at least the next 15 hours!!! we all messed around on the beach or in the water until it was time for some food at about 9pm. Rice and chicken was the order of the night and it was well received and didn't last long... then it was onto the beers and a quick 'getting to know you' session of say your name and where you are from. It seemed strange that considering how many of my personal 'undesirables' there were on Phi Phi Don that NONE of them were here! everyone was either a traveler like myself or the 'good' kind of tourist (the ones that want to learn and see as much of a place as possible without mentioning football, DJ'ing or fighting)
The beer ran out quickly so it was onto the sang somme buckets for the rest of the night.. ah well, could be worse ;)
After dinner and a few drinks, sleeping bags and mats were handed out and we all went down onto the sand to set up an open air camp. Some people went to sleep straight away, but a few of us swam in the sea and stayed up all night until sunrise. At one point there were only five of us up and about on the beach...
As the morning set in the first tourist boat arrived and spoiled the castaway vibe, luckily it was at this point we all packed up and left the same way as we came in before heading back to Phi Phi Don.
When i got back, i immediately booked a boat to Koh Lanta for 9am the next morning i needed to get off Phi Phi i hated it... The idea of this place in 'High Season' still makes me feel sick. Its almost like a 'grown-up' version of Koh Phangan and needs to change massively before i will consider going back there again. Magaluf would be just as fun!
I went down to Loh Dalem beach again that night and still wasn't impressed so went to bed early to make sure i didn't miss the 'get me the hell outta here' boat the next morning..... I didn't and was extremely happy to be leaving. Although i had met some awesome people on the Maya Bay experience... thanks guys!!!