. It was really exciting because it felt like the beach part of the trip was about to start properly. Don't get me wrong, Patong had a nice beach but not quite what we had imagined when thinking of going to Thailand.
As soon as we landed we were swamped by people trying to get you to choose accommodation with them. Koh Phi Phi is relatively expensive because so many people who go there have a fair amount of money and can afford to stay in the incredible resorts. There are however a few bungalows at the back of the island which are a bit more affordable and we booked into a fan double room at a place called the garden inn. It sounds quaint and pretty but in reality it was a bit of a dump and the cottage wasn't particularly inspiring either. If you imagine a sauna, add a handful of mosquito's, and a couple of gecko's, knock a few holes and dents into the wall and a replace the smell of eucalyptus with a faint smell of mud and you'll have a good picture of this place..... but to be fair for the price we couldn't complain and we didn't plan on spending much time there anyway as we wanted to see the paradise island.
We spent the afternoon exploring the island and went to see the beach hut stalls as well as long beach which is where all the backpackers go to sun themselves
. It's such a cool island with beach bars and restaurants dotted all over the place, long sandy beaches and such friendly and helpful people. The average age of the tourists on the island whilst we were there must have been about 25 and there were hundreds of teenage backpackers looking ridiculously tanned and toned.... I therefore hated them all instantly (not that I was jealous or anything). However the island is kind of split in two because on the side where the pier sits there are a lot of the resorts with families and couples whereas the other side is crammed full of students.
After an afternoon on the beach in the blazing sun we had dinner at one of the restaurants overlooking the sea which was incredible - amazing food, beautiful scenery and a really nice restaurant. We then walked along the beach a bit further to have some drinks at a Jamaican themed beach bar where they had cushions setup facing the sea, a DJ who spoke a bit of English (always entertaining) and cocktails for about £2 each... pretty awesome. Then at about 10pm they started their fire show which seemed to be run by the staff who worked there as they would do their set and then come over and ask if you would like any more drinks. They were really good but clearly amateurs as whenever they tried a really difficult trick they usually sent their stick (covered with paraffin and on fire) flying in a completely random direction
. This added an extra edge to the performance because you literally felt a flaming stick could come flying at you at any point, fortunately the one time it did go completely astray it landed on the performers table rather than in our laps.It was a lot of fun though and we sat on the beach until midnight listening to music, watching the sea and trying to make our cocktails last.... it was brilliant!
The next day we got up early as we had booked onto a longtail boat island tour which takes you to the smaller islands surrounding Koh Phi Phi including monkey island, Maya bay (which is where "The beach" was filmed), Bamboo island, shark point and a few other spots. Again we had a guide who had no interest in telling us anything regarding where we were, what we were looking at or what we were doing next. There were 3 longtail boats doing the same tour, and we were the last to leave because our engine wouldn't start. All 15 of us had to sit on the boat bobbing on the waves right next to the beach for about half an hour while they replaced the battery and bashed seemingly random pieces of metal with a spanner all the while not telling us anything. You couldn't help wandering whether this was something they could have done an hour before we all left.
Eventually we did set off and the journey was good fun
. The boat would stop, we would all look around at each other and then the guide might say something like "Snorking, thirty minutes.... snorking, snorking, snorking!
" which is fine but we had no idea where we were or what we were looking at. Fortunately the tour didn't really need a guide because the scenery alone made it an incredible tour. The islands are exactly as you would picture a paradise island. Long white sandy beaches with clear turquoise, warm water and hardly anyone around. However our tour (probably because it was cheap) had a rustic element to it. For example, one of the stops was to Maya bay where "The Beach" with Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed so it's always full of tourists. We drove past from a distance and a few people recognised the area, "I think that's Maya bay
", the guide didn't say anything. We then continued along and went around the island heads stopping in a bay around the back of the island where there is no beach. Our boat anchored by tying up to another bigger boat and our guide said "One hour, then we go
". Basically in order to see the beach we would have to swim over the jagged rocks, climb a rope ladder up onto the island and then hike over to the other side which was a shame because it meant we couldn't take a camera. The swim looked easy but getting out of the sea was treacherous because you were balanced on slimy rocks and being knocked over by waves as you tried to clamber over the same bit of ground and hang onto the same piece of rope as all the other people. As you get your balance someone else will fall over pulling the rope and sending everyone over in the same direction onto the rocks
. Everyone left with bruised legs, small cuts and some people said they thought they had been bitten by some sort of fish on the swim over. To be fair the beach was well worth it!!! I think the reason for this plan may have been that there is a landing charge to stop the boat on the actual Maya bay beach, so this is the cheapest way to see the island.
A particular highlight of the day was going to a beach on Bamboo island. We stopped and the guide said "One and half hour then you back
." It was the last stop of the day and it was very hot so quite a few of the people just sat by the boat in the sun, some swam and we went to explore the island. Because hardly anybody else went exploring it meant we had a whole section of the island all to ourselves which was brilliant! I can definitely understand why people say Thailand has some of the best beaches and islands in the world. Photos can't really do justice to the place, but we did get some good ones none-the-less.
When we got back from our tour we had already decided that the next day we would head for Krabi and the one thing we hadn't done was go to the view-points of the island which were supposed to be the best places for photos and the sun was just setting as we got back. So we thought we would quickly pop up the hill, take a few photos and then head to the cottage to get showered and changed before dinner
. Oh, the naivety! The short walk up the hill was anything but SHORT! We climbed up a series of endless steps, we would get up another level and think "We must be nearly there", and there would be yet another towering flight of steps. Then when we got to the top of the steps, we continued to ascend the hill up a sloped path (in wet flip flops). It was ridiculous and by the time we got to the top the sun was just about gone so we only had time to take about 3 photos before rushing back down to avoid being stuck on the hill in the dark surrounded by bats. I tell this story so that we all really appreciate the photo of this great event! haha!
Anyway, Koh Phi Phi is amazing, really can't imagine that anywhere could live up to it's beaches but Krabi is next which I'm sure will be brilliant too!
We booked our ferry crossing to Phi Phi and the shuttle service from Phuket to get to the ferry port. We were told to be ready for pick up between 7 and 7.15 am, once 7.15 had gone we sat outside our hotel watching every minibus thinking "maybe this one", then... "no"..."this one?"..."no" but the shuttle didn't arrive until 7.55 so by the time we arrived at the ferry we were two of the last to get on meaning we had to sit on the bottom floor. It's a bit like sitting in the hull because you are below water level and can only see out if you stand up and peer through the small cabin windows which are near the ceiling. Not having any view for the 1 and a half hour crossing through the incredible scenery to Koh Phi Phi wasn't at all what we had in mind so we tried to get a spot standing outside on deck so we could see the scenery on the way to what is supposed to be one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Well, the scenery didn't disappoint and as we approached Koh Phi Phi the water turned more and more turquoise and you could see through to the sand-bed it was so clear