Island Diving in Phi Phi
Trip Start Sep 28, 2009
92Trip End Apr 22, 2011
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Our first over night coach trip was average, it certainly wasn't luxury and not quite the fully reclining seats that they show in the pictures, but maybe that’s for the people paying top dollar. We paid 600BH each and that included the ferry ticket over to Phi Phi, which converts to about £12 each to travel the equivalent of Southend to Manchester. So maybe I shouldn’t complain that the DVD kept getting stuck until they finally gave up on it, and the fact that the toilet started to kick up about four in the morning or the fact that they woke us up at midnight for a refreshment break and then again at 5am to give us our ferry tickets. All in all it was what we expected and was the cheapest way to get from one end of the county to another.
We arrived in Phi Phi a little jaded and wandered the streets a while to find some accommodation, according to the Lonely Planet Phi Phi is now on the more expensive side and we found this to be true. We finally found a reasonably priced place which look clean and had hot shower. This would do us for a couple of nights to find our feet and get the geography of the island.
The first thing you see when you arrive in Phi Phi is the stunning beaches and the massive cliffs that loom over you ....they are magnificent and I have to warn you there are a vast amount of photo’s of them. You also notice how new the main town is and this is also the reason why it’s so expensive for the average backpacker. The Tsunami in 2004 swept over Phi Phi like it was made of match sticks, which to be honest most of the locals homes are made from little more; it devastated the whole area and killed hundreds. Tourists and locals all got together soon after and helped put the town back in business, the result 5 years on looks fantastic and Phi Phi hasn’t lost any of its character in the rebuild. It has lost however most of the tatty little cheap places us backpackers love to stay, all the new shops and restaurants come with smart new rooms above that have A/C, hot water and Cable TV.
We spent a couple of uncomfortable night in our first choice of accommodation. We had a few nasty visits from a family of fillip-flop sized cockroaches who had Gary on his toes for most of the night with his can of bug killer. He took down 5 of them but the largest one got away, not to worry his days were numbered, he was spayed full in face on his way back out the door. The room also had an unpleasant smell which I wasn’t too happy about, so the first day was spend doing some recognisance to find a new room. Our second day took us to a beach further round the Island, it was an hour’s hike by road and over rocks, and we had done that route the previous day on our reccy but the easiest way to get there, especially with rucksacks, was by taxi boat. The Taxi boats are Phi Phi’s equivalent to Tuk Tuk’s and like their Bangkok counterparts the call out here is "Boat Boat" rather than “Tuk Tuk? . It sounds funny at the moment but I think it may get a tad tedious after a week or so.
We have found a nice little bungalow on a beach called Long Beach. It is very basic for the money but does have a sea view and comes with free breakfast which is fantastic, except for the fact that it’s too much food and Gary has become addicted to ice coffee. We get a fruit platter usually pineapple, Watermelon and Banana, followed by eggs anyway you want them and a choice of bacon, ham or sausage; this comes with toast and jam, Orange Juice and tea or coffee. Now as we both don’t drink hot drinks the waitress has been making us ice coffee instead, which as I said Gary is addicted to. I am sure any of you reading this will think that’s not such big a breakfast..... maybe even 'I had more than that myself for breakfast this morning’, but you have to remember for the last 4 months we haven’t eaten breakfast and when we did it will have been a plate of fruit or maybe a pancake certainly nothing that had a starter and main course. The biggest problem we have now is that having spent two perfect days lying out on the perfect white sand before dipping into the perfect clear waters to cool off we have only gone a booked ourselves in for some diving the next morning. Which not only means we have to be up early, we have to shovel down our two course breakfast before we get on the boat but to top it all we get free lunch with the dive as well .....so more food which we can’t eat!
We have completed seven dives over three days and have had a fantastic time. We choose to go with a dive shop from town rather than the one on Long Beach, right next door to us. We had already spoken to the guys in town and liked their laid back, friendly attitude but thought we would give the shop next to us a try. They ignored us both times we showed interest, plus I overheard the manager talking to a customer and I didn’t like his approach.....so we have to pay an extra £4 a day to take a taxi boat over to the main town but it’s worth it.
It’s great to get back in the water again, the diving has been good here and the reef has plenty of activity. We were right about the friendly and laidback dive team, we felt very relaxed and it was a special treat to have our dive equipment set up for us, not what we are use to. Lunch was nothing special but the location was amazing. Most people know if you come to Phi Phi you have visit Maya beach which is where the film ‘The Beach’ was filmed. This was to be our location for lunch, sadly it was also about 200 other people’s lunch location too but it was still a fab place to sit and eat.
We booked a 3 dive package for the next day which included a wreck dive. The wreck was a car ferry that had sunk nearly 20 years ago, it was just being delivered and they think the driver was drunk when he ran it into a reef. There were only 5 of us signed up to do the wreck dive so we had the use of the speed boat, which was brilliant, very VIP. We speed along at the rate of knots all sitting up the front and laughing every time boat came down from a wave because we got thrown around. It was a challenge just to drink a bottle of water without getting soaked but it was loads of fun. The wreck was really good and still in pretty good condition, even the toilets at the back of the boat where still intact. The water round wrecks always seems to be choppy with strong currents, it was fairly hard to get off and on the speed boat as the back is quite small and isn’t designed to be used as a dive boat but it was all part of the experience.
Our third day diving was very sad, we had such a great time, two very exciting dives full of sharks, turtles and Sea Horses, but that will be it now for our time in Phi Phi. The main reason we left it this late into our trip to start diving as we knew once we started we would find it really, really hard to stop, but stop we must as this has just taken a big chunk of money out of our savings. However as many of you know we did have a separate fund for diving and we thank one and all of you who contributed towards it before we left, we had some great dives. We still have enough left in the kitty for further diving in Indonesia and Oz.
Phi Phi is a fantastic island and we are a little too comfortable here, so we will probable just hang round on the beach for a few more days, maybe a week and then think about our next destination.
3rd February 2010
Yes we are still here, the last 3 days have been very hard for us, we had to decide which end of the beach to sit on and whether to sit in the sun or shade......like a say tough!!! We have had clear blue sky's and it has been least in the 30's everyday, the tan is coming along nicely.
We watched the Man U v Arsenal game on Sunday in a small beach bar full of locals, most of them the 'boat boat' divers. It made us feel like we were back in our local pub again as they were all waving betting slips about and were getting very excited about the results. Have a look at the photo, the young 'lady' at the back had a lot more than a smile to offer a man! We had been invited into town by some of our dive guides who where meeting up in the Irish bar to watch the game, but the tide was so low that we couldn't get a boat off our beach. Shame, but it would have been a messy night so probably for the best.
We have come back into town today to check our emails and make use of the free Wi/Fi in our favorite coffee/book shop. The town is very laid back, there isn't any motorised traffic on the island so they move everything around on two wheeled push carts. This can be anything from your luggage to bags of cement or ice! The only other thing to look out for is the odd push bike that zips in and out of the crowded streets.
We had a walk up to View Point today, this is also the tsunami escape route, put it this way I hope there isn't one while we are here......it's a hell of a long way up!!!
You get to the top dripping with sweat and jelly legged, but is absolutely worth it, the view is stunning, Phi Ph town is built on a sandbank between two islands. The old guy at the view point, who looked about 200, was full of knowledge about the Tsunami and had pictures of Phi Phi the day after it hit, showing the devastation. There was also pictures of a very green Phi Phi, 20 years ago, before the hotels took over.