Phi Phi

Saturday, 10 October 2015

After an uncomfortable ferry ride to Koh Phi Phi, we made the sweaty ten minute journey across the sand to our hostel - Stones Bar. The staff were less than friendly which was a shock as we get a welcome reception wherever we usually go. After the longest check-in known to man and them trying to charge us 300 baht extra, we sat down for some lunch in the bar as our beds weren't going to be ready for another hour. The menu was cheap with good food so me and Kate ordered a ham and cheese baguette while Abby ordered a cheese baguette, although Kate's food took half an hour to come out. We're finding that this is a common occurrence in Thailand. They don't do timings and they don't really do customer service, especially in Stones. We had to remind the guy who could barely speak a word of English that we were waiting on one sandwich and he had to reorder it with the cook. By this point we were pretty fed up as all we wanted to do was eat and check in. 

After around an hour we were given the key cards to our dorm which was pretty clean and modern with three combined toilet and showers and two sinks. The toilets had a piece of plastic (like you get on a clothes tag) with a coke bottle top at the end which you had to pull to flush the chain which was weird, but apart from that we were happy with our room. All the girls seemed nice and chatty and after dumping our stuff and tackling the upper bunk stairs (quite the adventure for me and Abby) we went for a little wander to try and organise some trips for the next few days. We managed to get an afternoon trip for the following day which was a boat trip around the islands visiting Monkey Beach, Viking Cave, Pe-Leh Bay, Loh Samah, Maya Bay and Sunset Point. The trip included snorkels, water and lunch for 400 baht (around £7) which we thought was pretty good so after paying a deposit we headed back to the beach to chill for the afternoon. 

Epitome of small world but I bumped into my friend Liv who I lived with in first year at Uni. We're still really good friends but I haven't seen her for months as she went on placement in second year and we lived with different people in third year so our catch ups are sadly few and far between. We knew we'd be in Thailand at the same time but her and Rhianna who she's travelling with always seem to be on the next island. Turns out they were staying a few hostels up from us on the beach so we arranged to go for drinks that night. After a chip butty for dinner we got ready and went to meet them on the beach.

Anna, Josh and Amrik came to meet us too who we met in Koh Phangan so the group of us went to Ibiza House Bar and then on to Slinkys where the rodeo bull was. Talk about thigh burn. It was so nice to spend the evening with Liv as we had so much to catch up on and I loved living with her in first year. Me and Abby went to get food from 7eleven and en route met an Australian football player called Blake who plays for Collingwood in Melbourne, apparently (Google isn't verifying this at present). Needless to say we quizzed him about recommendations and asked the dreaded will we see spiders question. About 2am we headed home and got up around 12 to drop some laundry off before our trip.

After being 100 baht short and running round the entire island of Phi Phi we finally boarded our boat and were with an American couple from California and two Spanish friends from Majorca. First stop was Monkey Island which was a little disappointing as it was the tiniest beach with two ugly monkeys roaming around. They aren't the cute ones like in The Hangover, they look naughty. All they want is food and are known to be vicious sometimes. But considering the ratio was about 25 people to one monkey, all with phones shoved in their faces, I'm not surprised they get agitated.

Next to went to Viking Cave which was beautiful and had a chance to swim and snorkel in the lagoon. Snorkelling in Koh Tao just doesn't compare. We were surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands, of colourful and exotic fish. The men on the boat were throwing food into the water which made the fish all cluster together. It was such a surreal moment and I didn't expect it to be as amazing as it was. We also saw rainbow fish and the black, white and yellow one from Finding Nemo in the dentist fish tank. It was a little weird when they were all touching you - I did let out a few little yelps. And I also kept getting stung by what I think was tiny jelly fish that left a little orange dot on the skin.

We then moved on to Maya Bay which was an experience. Prior to arriving we hadn't been informed that to get on to the beach you had to climb a giant rope net attached to the side of a cliff. I got off the boat into the water and instantly whacked my foot on a rock which hurt like hell. Joining the other 20 people scrambling up the net, we then had to hoist ourselves up on to the platform, bearing in mind this was all bare foot so it was cutting into our feet badly. When I reached the top my foot was bleeding and although the cut thankfully wasn't very deep, my heel was throbbing and I was wary of getting sand into the cut. The pain subsided a little when we made our way round and saw Maya Bay which was absolutely gorgeous. But if you'd have fallen off that net, you could be a gonner.

Had the sun been out it would have been even more breathtaking, but the crystal sea surrounded by towering rocks and pure white sand isn't something you see every day. We enjoyed swimming in the sea for forty minutes until we hopped back on the boat and the driver put some antiseptic on my foot and put a plaster on it. We were meant to watch the sun set but because of how much smoke was in the air, we only saw a faint red moon in the sky. Knackered and hungry by this point we didn't really mind and headed back to Phi Phi to collect our laundry and eat dinner. The trip was incredible and well worth the money as the sights of Thailand on the most beautiful of islands never cease to amaze me.

It's also surreal to think that a large proportion of Thailand was  wiped out by the 2004 Tsunami. Although it mainly hit Koh Samui, Phi Phi was also hit hard and it's crazy walking around the island knowing that they're still recovering from the catastrophe 11 years later. As a bit of a geography lover at school (A in A-Level over here) natural disasters fascinate me. They can be so unpredictable yet life-ruining and leave lasting effects on people's homes and lives. It's one thing seeing it in films and documentaries but when you're actually standing on a beach which suffered such emotional and physical destruction, it's inspiring. It also brings it home how lucky we are to live in England where we don't tend to experience the brunt of natural disasters.

Anyway, pizza was on the menu for dinner and after a bit of chill time we met Liv and Rhianna again for drinks. We watched the fire show, fire limbo and jump rope which me and Kate were actually pretty good at, until I messed it up. Ibiza bar was really fun with cheap drinks and good music but by 1am we were all tucked up in bed. I had a bit of a sickness bout during the night and had to contend with profusely sweating while shivering so I woke up feeling very empty and a little weak. We'd arranged to meet Liv and Rhianna for lunch before going paddle boarding so after a long lie in we got ready and headed out. The tide was really far out so we decided kayaking would be better for exploring so paid 600 baht for 3 kayaks for us all for 2 hours which was pretty decent.

Kate was brave and went in a single one by herself and we went round to a little beach about half an hour away. I don't know how professional canoeists or kayakers do it because it's bloody hard work, but amusing all the same. After floating in the sea and walking up the beach we took some cliche beach jumping photos and went back which was EVEN harder. I could already tell my arms were going to ache the following day because it's all arm no leg. After chilling on the beach for a couple of hours we all headed to Calamaro for dinner where I had another massaman curry. While I was starting to feel better from the previous night of sickness I must have handed to baton to Kate who felt ill at dinner. After showering and chilling for a bit we went back out to meet the girls. 

We decided to try some of the bars in the centre part of the island instead of on the beach so we went to Dojo Bar as it was pretty lively and the drinks were really cheap. Kate went home early as she was poorly but one sex on the beach bucket and flip cup game later, we moved on to Stockholm Syndrome where we played beer pong. Me and Abby won, by the way. No thanks to Abby who kept throwing it into the tattoo parlour next door instead of into the cups. After that we headed back to the beach to Ibiza House for a bit before getting food and going to bed. The following morning after a little lie in we met the girls for lunch before they got the ferry to Phuket where we were heading the day after. 

They booked into the same hotel as us after we recommended it so it'll be nice to spend our last two days in Thailand with them. I ended up waiting about 20 minutes for a rock hard baguette and a few chips and it turned out to be the worst food we'd had since being in Thailand. While Kate napped me and Abby decided to tackle the viewpoint as it's meant to be worth the gruelling 30 minute climb. We thought Koh Tao was hard but this was hell compared. I've honestly never sweated so much in my entire life, nor did I know it was possible to sweat from certain body parts. We were that sweaty that one girl if we'd just been swimming. After practically climbing horizontal stairs and pacing ourselves up the steep windy path through rainforest-type terrain, we reached the top 25 minutes later.

Considering we stopped about 5 times we didn't think we did too bad time-wise. While it was still cloudy from the Indonesian smoke and the blue skies didn't compare to Koh Nang Yuan, it was still beautiful. There was actually lots of rocks, pretty flowers and seating areas to enjoy the view rather than one cramped rock at the top of Koh Nang Yuan. When we mustered up the courage to go back down I decided to use my selfie stick as a walking stick which I wish I'd done on the way up. Multi-purpose or what. It felt three times quicker than the way up but it was definitely worth the 30 baht entry per person as you can't beat standing at the peak and overlooking the entire island. 

After getting back and cooling down the three of us decided to go for a little wander through the main part of the island with a little pit stop at a rope swing followed by a dip in the sea which was disgustingly warm and sludgy for some reason. Not the nicest of sea experiences but you can't have it all, can you? We then headed to Cosmic for dinner which served the BEST spaghetti and pasta. We also received the best customer service we've had since being here as Thailand don't really do customer service in any sense of the word. I had spaghetti in a creamy tomato sauce with garlic bread and it was beautiful. After packing up ready for our ferry the following morning we headed into the market streets in the centre of the island for a bit of night shopping. I managed to get some Ray Bans (which actually say Ray Ban not Ray Bon or Ray Berry) for 250 baht (£4.50), a cute elephant anklet and a Chang vest for my boyfriend who I've got a little vest collection for. 

We wandered over to the other side of the island and saw a complete change in the ambience. The atmosphere was so much more relaxed and romantic and the streets and restaurants were dotted with twinkly lights, candles, fire shows and soft music. It was nice to see another side to Phi Phi as it's predominantly known for being a party island, there's actually a much more mature and civilised vibe on the pier side. On our way back we stopped at this ice cream place where they make it all fresh in front of you. For 99 baht (£1.80) you can choose one flavour of ice cream, two toppings and a sauce and they mix it all on a large circular cold plate and use metal choppers to make and blend the ice cream as the metal plate is so cold which was pretty impressive.

They then spread it into a thin layer and scrape it into thin rolls, placing it in the tub, squirting cream on top, sprinkling over your chosen toppings (which are also distributed through the actual ice cream itself) with a generous drizzle of sauce over the top. It's pretty cool to watch it being made from scratch and it also tasted incredible. I had vanilla ice cream with m&ms, chocolate drops and chocolate sauce so I was in sweet tooth heaven. We got back about 10, set our alarm for 7, got ready for bed and chilled before yet another ferry the following morning. I've had so much fun in Phi Phi and it comes a very close second behind Koh Tao which is hands down the most beautiful island I've seen. 

We're now heading to Phuket for two nights where we've got a private room in a hotel which will be nice to have a little bit of luxury. Stones has been practical, clean and central but if you want to be able to sleep before 3am, it's not the place to go as the music makes the metal bed frames physically shake. No lie. We saw cockroaches and a rat in the bar/restaurant area so I wouldn't say it's the most hygienic of places but it did the trick for 4 days. I can't quite believe we've only got two full days left before flying to Singapore to start the next part of our adventure. Time is running away with itself but I'm excited to go to Phuket before the island hopping is over for good. 

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