Trip Start Nov 02, 2005
48Trip End Nov 01, 2006
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There are stories of western investors receiving quite a bit of money to rebuild on the island as they are able to pull more tourists in and thus pump the economy. Problem with that is that many of the locals go hungry and homeless. It's certainly not the best situation, but it's great to see everyone locally help one another out.
It had been nearly a year and a half since the disaster, but it is still fresh in everyone's mind, tourists and inhabitants alike. They have built a memorial, complete with pictures of missing locals and tourists from the disaster, and there are constant reminders around the island of how much devastation must have taken place
Having said that, Ko Phi Phi is still a gorgeous island with much to see and do. There is a lot that can be said surrounding the tsunami, but we won't discuss it further here. Feel free to ask us about our experiences over email or when we return to Canada.
The ferry dropped us at the ferry dock (surprise!) and we were greeted by the welcome comittee of touts selling their accomodations to the newly arriving tourists. We selected one that seemed reasonable in price, and as you need to work pretty hard to get too far from the main village on the island, we weren't too concerned about location.
Our place ended up being one of the farthest away in the main village, and that meant we had to walk all of 5 minutes to where all the pubs and restaurants were. Life's really hard when you're lazy.
We managed to check in and make it to a restaurant for a beer before dark. The island was thriving with tourists, but from what we were told it was at something like 20 or 30 percent of what it is in the high season. Fine by us; prices are lower and there's less people to deal with. The only problem is that high season = nice weather, low season = monsoon.
We spent a day or two wandering the village and checking out the shops with Aaron, our Canadian buddy we met back in Taman Negara, Malaysia
One of the fun parts of climbing is that you get to stare at each other's bums all day. Your neck tends to get sore before your arms do (slight exaggeration), and after a few hours of climbing, we were exhausted. We headed back to the main village for a shower, then headed out for a night on the town.
This is where we bumped into John from Teman Negara as well; the guy we crossed over into Thailand with. He's a fun guy and it was good to see him again.
We spent the evening at a nice family restaurant called the Raggae Bar. This place is complete with picnic tables, a Muay Thai boxing ring and the drinks come in buckets. Need we elaborate? Hell yes. The boxing ring isn't for watching fights, per se... it's for tourists that are feeling tough to get in the ring and scrap one another. Those that do get two free buckets. Can you see where this is going?
Great entertainment: A bunch of kids that have no idea how to throw a punch tie on some gloves and either make fools out of themselves, or their opponent, or in one instance, both at the same time
The bell rang, and instead of raising his gloves, the drunkard started doing hand waves to his ear like Hulk Hogan for the crowd to cheer him on. He then proceeded to work his opponent over like a rag doll. In-between rounds (fights are 3 rounds), he would break-dance instead of rest, and work on finishing his bucket-o-booze.
When he was declared the winner, he took another gulp from the bucket and promptly through himself out of the ring. It was the funniest thing we've seen in a long time and we thanked him for the show the next day.
Aaron, Lisa and Dave then booked a trip to go snorkeling around Phi Phi. Our goal was actually to get over to Phi Phi Ley, an island near Ko Phi Phi where "The Beach" was filmed. Although the story takes place on the east coast of Thailand, it was actually filmed around these islands. Understandably so; watch the movie, you'll know what we mean. (for those that haven't seen it, it's that one with Dave's favourite hunk Leonardo De Caprio)
Unfortunately the seas were too rough and we had to stick close to Phi Phi for our trip. It wasn't for a lack of trying though. We made it about half-way across the channel before the boatman was too afraid to continue. When the Thai boatman won't continue, you know it can't be good... we were all entirely ready to give up about 30 minutes before this point, so the decision to turn back was greeted with much support
That night we met up with John and his buddy from England. Apparently his buddy got bit by a poisonous millipede the night before and had to spend most of the night in the hospital. The good news is, he met a 'girly-boy' earlier that day who kept him company in the hospital. We told him "just don't worry about it".
The night progressed from the Raggae Bar and our nightly ritual of watching tourists beat the snot out of one another, to a few other bars around the main village. Nothing is too far away from anything it makes for safe and easy travel at any time of day.
Aaron ended up leaving a day before us to head over to the east coast of Thailand. That day two other Canadians checked into his newly vacated room. It turns out that one of them was good friends with Aaron from back in Red Deer and the two of them had been chasing each other all over Australia for the last 7 months never to actually meet up. That's pretty close though!
Later that day Dave met up with a friend who lives in Whistler, BC. He was just down in Thailand for a few weeks. Another few examples of how small the world is (or at least, how small the backpacker world is)
We never did spend much time on the beach as it would usually rain quite a bit sometime during the day. Although we did end up sticking around an extra day purely to get over to Phi Phi Ley. We kept hearing so much about it that we just had to go check it out. We paid for a long tail boat ride over to the island. Most of it just straight out of the water and then 60 meters up. But there are parts of the island where there are hidden coves with sandy beaches, and caves leading to hidden openings to lagoons within the high walls of the island. It really is a cool place.
It started to pour down with rain however, and instead of calling it a day, we headed into "the lagoon" which is a bit of a fjord that is mostly hidden if you don't know where to find it. We winded our way to the back and went for a swim in the rain. The visibility of the water was still incredible and the calm water had a great turquoise to it. At the same time, the top of the water bubbled with the rain pouring down. It was a great time to be there.
We rushed back to Phi Phi in order to hop on a ferry headed for Krabi. We would end up staying there another night before getting a bus to the east coast. We had decided it was time to do our scuba course, and Ko Tao was meant to be one of the cheapest in South East Asia.
In case you missed that, we were heading from one island paradise to another. Damn this is fun.