The ride to Ko Phi Phi took slightly over two hours, but was wonderful once the boat began to move. On top of the passengers cabin was a sun deck that quickly filled with many sunbathing Europeans. Mike and I were able to withstand the sun for about an hour, after which we were momentarily forced inside. The boat was absolutely packed with people! Since we had gone up top right as we entered the boat, we had not noticed that almost every seat downstairs was taken, as well as the sundecks being full. Clearly we had come to the island during high season. Clouds began to blow in from the South. The wind also caused the water to become quite rough, so we went out to the front deck for some air. In the distance was Ko Phi Phi. The rocks from the island jut out of the water unlike anything I have seen before. If anyone has seen "The Beach" with Leonardo Di Caprio you can imagine what I mean... in fact, the movie was filmed right here!
As we neared the island a huge problem loomed... the boat was supposed to dock at two different ports and the captain wanted us to separate our luggage. The bags, however, were in a huge pile on one side of the back of the boat. Since we had been the first people on that meant that our belongings were at the very bottom. Thus began our mad dash to find our things, with the captain constantly telling us to "HURRY HURRY". Talk about stressful. It took almost thirty minutes to locate our belongings. Once we had everything Mike and I disembarked, only be bombarded with Thais yelling "You need accomodation? You need accomodation? You must stay here, everywhere is full. People sleep on beach and restaurant last night." The entire island seemed to be booked. What had once been a 500 baht room was now being auctioned off at 1500 baht... and fast. After going from stand to stand Mike finally decided on a room with air conditioning for 1800 baht... about 1000 more than we budgeted for. After such crazy stress we did not mind.
The room at JJ bungalow is very interesting.
Our bed is harder than most floors, which Mike loves ( I would prefer my double pillow top mattress).
We also have a small refrigerator and TV which has one English channel. The bathroom, however, is the main exhibit. Upon first look I thought that we didn't have a shower or tub, but then I realized that a faucet is positioned to the right of the sink so that when the water is on it falls just in front of the vanity. There is also a shower curtain that sections off this part of the restroom and the toilet. I literally can shower, do my makeup, and brush my teeth without moving more than six inches. We are planning on getting up tomorrow and trying the find a cheaper place.
The island is beautiful and the people here are very friendly. Construction is still being done to re-build what the tsunami washed away. The island is shaped much like a figure eight, so when the wave hit it was channeled to the center point and was over 100 feet high when it touched land. About 75% of the palm trees where wiped out, and many of the remaining had their tops ripped off. The once pristine white sand beach is now littered with sharp coral. It is still beautiful though. You can walk out in the ocean for about five hundred meters and still have the water only reach your waist. And the water is so warm it's like taking a bath. [PHOTO_ID_R=img_0424.jpgThere are no vehicles here, so foot traffic is the only thing that you have to worry about. Cobblestone roads dotted with restaurants and little shops connect both sides of the island. The majority of people here are very friendly, and unlike Singapore everyone seems to have a smile on their face. I've seen more centipedes here than I ever have before. There are also miniature frogs everywhere so you have to watch where you step. When Mike visited in May he described this place as the Disney Land for adults and I would have to agree.
We spent most of the day walking around the island and laying on the beach. Clouds moved in during the afternoon so we decided to scout out a cheeper room only to find that the owners here never know when people are leaving, so we could not book in advance. We plan to get up early tomorrow to try again. We went to a little beach side restaurant for dinner and watched the sky slowly turn to an inky black.
In the evening we met with a couple, Debbie and Martin from the UK, that we had met while booking the room. After a couple beers at home we decided to go to the Reggae bar to watch some Thai fighters. Although it looked intense, both Martin and Mike said that the fight was staged. Since we were planning on finding another room in the morning, Mike and I left at about midnight and began walking home. On the way we ran into a group of young Thai men who were clapping, dancing, and singing while one played guitar. They raised their beers to us as we passed, so we stopped and clapped along. After a couple of songs they offered the guitar to Mike and he proceeded to play "When I was younger." Although the guitar was extremely out of tune our friend still smiled and clapped along. What a wonderful way to end the day.
Traveling to Ko Phi Phi was not as relaxing as we expected. On the plane from Singapore to Phuket we met several interesting people: Wade from New Zealand, Cheryl from Dallas, Texas (although she repeatedly claimed to be Singaporean since she hadn't become an official citizen in the thirty years she has lived in the States) and her silent cousin Gene. Out of the bunch Cheryl was the most entertaining... not only was she loud, but she had refused to grow old. Her tales were of how much Singapore had changed, catching her son stealing her pot, the fact that her husband was a marathon runner, the trip she had to Bali, how she didn't trust the water in India, how she didn't trust ATM machines, how she had eight sisters that live all over the world, how she always tried to be the first to get on or off any vessel... let's just say she spoke of EVERYTHING besides dinosaurs (although I am sure she had an opinion on that too). Once we were on the ground the five of us split a taxi to the Phuket docks, only to find that we had missed the morning taxi by 30 minutes. Since the docks were quite a way from town, we spent the next five hours sitting in the empty station awaiting the next ferry. A few stands were still open, so Mike and I snacked on fresh pineapple and coconut juice. When the boat finally docked we were the first on board.