Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

Trip Start Feb 26, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Before I start writing about Ko Phi Phi there's two things I have to mention, 1) the island was basically washed away in the Tsunami and all accommodation had to be built again from scratch which makes it quite expensive now and 2) there are no roads or motorised vehicles on the island so building work takes ages, all building materials have to be wheeled by wheelbarrow up from the jetty to where they are needed on the island so they were still rebuilding hotels and guesthouses that where washed away 4 years ago.
So, the four of us arrived on Ko Phi Phi (still with Doug & Erin) and started the usual search for accommodation. We had a place in mind but when we got there they only had "sea view" aka "more expensive" rooms available that were way out of mine and Lydia's price range. Doug and Erin decided to stay there for one night then look for cheaper accommodation the next morning, while me and Lydia set off and found a good room for half the price. After Ko Lanta, where everything was closed for the low season we were delighted to see that Ko Phi Phi was buzzing, bars and restaurants everywhere and a good party feel to the island. So the first night we ate in a lovely restaurant called Pums, it was excellent food for reasonable prices and then we went to scope out an Irish bar that was celebrating its 8th birthday that night. Several free shots and a couple of buckets of vodka concoctions later we stumbled out of the Irish bar and headed for the "black moon party" (similar to the full moon party only smaller). There was loads of people there dancing to phsycadellic trance which wasn't our cup of tea but we hung around for a while anyway to watch the antics. Got my face painted by some bar girl so I could blend in with the ravers! Spend all day the next day on the beach. It was much nicer than we expected. In the evening we went to a bar to watch the sunset, that was really nice. The sky turned a weird pink-orange colour and then we had an early night all wrecked from the night before. More of the same the next day, all day by the beach, then Erin decided to splash out an buy some fake DVD's so we spent the afternoon in her room with a rented DVD player drinking beers and watching DVD's. The next morning we spent (surprize surprize) by the beach, then spent most of the afternoon doing research into Malaysia. Returned to Pums restaurant in the evening for another lovely meal then went to see a Lady Boy Cabaret Show. It was good fun, much better than I expected and we had a good laugh. Another day on the beach the next day. We had lunch with Erin and Doug then siad our farewells. They were going to spend a couple of nights in Phuket before flying out from Bangkok and we were heading in the opposite direction towards Malaysia. It was good to have their company for the best part of 3 weeks and now we were alone again. Myself and Lydia spend the rest of the afternoon on the beach then had our final dinner in Ko Phi Phi in Cosmic (for the second time). We'd really recommend Cosmic and Pums to anyone going to Ko Phi Phi!

The next morning we left the island on the 9am ferry then got a 4.5 hour bus to a place called Hat Yai. Getting to Hat Yai we must have passed through 20 army or police checkpoints. Hat Yai is in the Islamic minority region of Thailand and there has been a lot of trouble there over the past few years. Anyway, we stayed in a cheap hotel that we knew would do the trick for one night, spent a few hours online doing more research into Malaysia, saw a couple of cinemas but there were no English language films on so just walked to a couple of shops round the town. It was like being back in India. We saw a man shitting in a drain on the side of the street, kids begging (a first in Thailand), about a million cockroaches and really unhelpful people working in the travel agencies. All we wanted to do was book a bus to the border but they didn't seem to care. We were eventually quoted prices from 250 baht to 450 baht after a lot of hassle and looking in about 10 different agencies. Anyway we booked the 250 baht option and were happy in the end as it got us to the border in quicker time than was advertised.
Overall we liked Thailand, not as good as Nepal or Laos or even Vietnam. The good points were, Ko Phanagn, Ko Phi Phi, Bangkok and to an extent Chiang Mai but there were too many low points especially Ko Tao and Ko Lanta to make us want to rush back. The country is marketed as "the land of smiles" well we met a fair amount of people working in the tourism and hospitality sectors that if they smiled they'd crack their faces. We did meet some nice people and overall we did enjoy Thailand but I just got the feeling that certain places, like the islands had become spoilt by overtourism and this was reflected in the locals attitude.

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