Koh Phi Phi Island
Trip Start Unknown
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Where I stayed
Phi Phi Island Cabana Hotel Ko Phi Phi Don
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Read my review - 5/5 stars
What I did
Loh Samah Bay
So, Koh Phi Phi was the highlight of our trip, aside from vow renewals in Krabi. Koh Phi Phi is the jewel of Thailand. It is located in the Adaman Sea off the coast of Thailand easily accessible by ferry from either Phuket or Krabi/Ao Nang. Phi Phi's infrastructure was devastated by the Tsunami of 2004, and while on the island you can't help but think of what it must of been like given the paths to higher ground are limited and crowded (not to put anyone in a somber mood, but if you have the time, check out the series on Youtube that follows the events of that day, starting with Part 1.
The ferry ride to Koh Phi Phi is a mere 1.5 or 2 hours depending on which ferry you take
Upon arrival, you are greeted by a community tax of 20 baht (less than a $1) for maintaining the environment and infrastructure of the island. As you walk down the pier to the mainland, local men line the pier with hotel signs so they can assist you get to your hotel (there are no cars on Phi Phi) or some trying to sell you a room (more for the backpackers who decide day-to-day on what to do next). Others try to sell you boat tour packages, either on their own personal long-tail boats or via an official tour company. We find the young man with the Koh Phi Phi Cabana Hotel sign, give him the signal and he places our bags into this three-wheeled cardbeautiful view of the bay.
We soaked in the beauty of the view, but given we only had 3 nights in Koh Phi Phi, we wanted to maximize our time in paradise. We headed into town only to be accosted for "taxi boat", most averaging between 1,000 to 1,500 Baht (between $30-$50) to take us some of the key islands around Phi Phi. Se settled on what appeared to be a reputable tour company and with the focus of booking a boat tour of the islands that included cliff jumping; had done it last year and was looking forward to doing it again. Settled on what were were told was a 3 for 1 package that included Monkey Beach, Cliff Jumping, Snorkeling in Phi Phi Ley Bay and relaxing on Maya Beach (site of the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Beach); not sure if you counted, but that's more than 3
At 1pm, we met with the rest of the folks joining this tour. We met up with Jack and Daniel from California, they just loved to play on the Jack Daniel bit. Two young men who chose to go backpacking in a country that spoke a foreign language, and offered a combination of adventure and fun. They discovered adventure trekking in Chiang Mai and were now in southern Thailand for some fun. Given the four of us were given red stickers to put on our tops, denoting us as "cliff jumpers", we thought, great, we have our own boat....only to find out that the other 12 to 15 folks in the tour shop were joining our boat and boarded before we did. Let's just say that getting 8-10 folks on one of these boats is comfortable.
Our first stop was Monkey Beach. That should say it all. Michele opted to stay on the boat while everyone else decided to get a closer look at the family of monkeys waiting for hand-outs, be it fruit or water bottles. That lasted an entire 10-15 minutes.
Next stop was the cliff jumping (See the videos here). The first challenge is getting to the top of the cliff. These limerock formations are adorned with very sharp edges and can only be climbed with proper footwear
The group is mainly made up of young whipper snappers in their very early 20s. The fear of height doesn't discern between women or men; in this case, your machismo could get you hurt (Geraldine/Auntie Ruthie, remember skydiving and our friend pulling his chute at 10,000 feet....yeah, sort of like that). As I take place at the jump site, prepare my GoPro to record the action, I'm told to hold off as I must let one of the individuals from one of the other boats jump off so they can go on their way to their next waypoint. This doesn't help any. Standing there forced to overthink and study what I'm about to do, doesn't make it any easier....no matter how many times I've done this before. You're told over and over again by the guides to jump like a pencil, arms crossed in front of you. What you must realize is that there is a lot of air time in the process of this jump and your body is so inclined to just to want to flay/wave your ams and legs (is 'flay' really a verb?); that is the last thing you want to do as you will offset your balance and not get a straight entry into the water
I take my place at the jump spot, think about the jump, but quickly try to clear the mind as I push off.....a bit too much. The rush of it all only gives you seconds to ensure your legs are together, your arms are crossed and that you are properly bracing for the impact....and what an impact it was. Instead of entering the water at a perpendicular 90 degree entry, I'm sure I entered around an 85 to 87 degrees entry, enough to make me feel it on my left arse cheek (that's how the Britons and Aussies say it....oh yeah, and the Irish; sorry Ger). My first focus is on finding my GoPro camera; I attached a floating mechanism to it, so it's only a matter a time till it surfaces. Next is all about getting out of the way and climbing back up for another jump.
For the next jump, I actually decide to check my manhood at the door and opt for the 8 footer. Just as thrilling with less impact on the body. This time I think the judges scored me with 9s and 10s for a perfect entry; I opted to just jump off vs. jumping out and "away from the rocks".
We all get back on the boat, and soon we all start sharing stories of our experiences, and this is where we begin to meet our fellow passengers.
Our next stop is Phi Phi Ley Bay. It is a serene site that can only be described as paradise. The ocean floor is no more than 12-15 feet deep with beautiful sand, coral and fishlink). We spend about 20-30 minutes here enjoying the sites and snorkeling.
Our next stop is Maya Beach, the must see when coming to Koh Phi Phi. It is a breathtaking site to see. I'll let these pictures speak for themselves. We settle here for a bit enjoying the sights and warm water. We soak in as much as we can as we know our respective realities will hit us soon. We board the boat and head back to Koh Phi Phi Don. On the way back Jack asks about the "BBQ"; of course I laugh and tell him that the best he's going to see is cut up pineapple and watermelon, but he's adamant that there is a BBQ tied to this tour. Having booked with the same company last year and having the exact same guides (unplanned by the way, by haphazard chance), I too am adamant that this is over with.
Well, as we head back into the the Phi Phi Don bay, the boat starts to veer towards the rocks and into a very narrow opening. The closer we get, a faint "boom boom boom" of some Black Eyed Peas tune can be heard....I guess I was wrong (my therapists says it's good to admit it). Michele and I are the first to get off the boat. From a distance I can see that a few, very few number of straw beach mats have been laid out
We feast on the chicken and various accompaniments as the guides prepare to give us a "fireshow". The fireshows are amazing as each guide takes turn showing us their majorette skill sets. Of course, I don't think that any of these folks are licensed or bonded, so anything can happen with no recourse from any of us. But the Chang beer tells us to relax and enjoy the show. We do, for the next 40 minutes, it seems. Then we're told to run to the water to see the glowing plankton. Everyone, mind you, well spirited dashes for the water without regards for their belongings; I swear it's a ruse to get us away from our backpacks, but again, i relax a bit and tell myself to ease up and take it for what it is....an opportunity to see nature at work
Back on the beach, we're told that there will be two departures; one now and another 30 minutes from now. Looks like everyone had a long day and 85% of us rush to the boat. I manage to secure my family on board (in the words of Chris Rock in "I take care of my kids" routine.....I take care of my wife !!!!!! ). WARNING, HAS SOME VULGAR LANGUAGE.
The boat is now beyond the fire marshall code for capacity. So here we are sitting in darkness as we await for the engine to start, but all we hear is the sound of metal against metal....hmmmm, I've heard that sound before in a mechanic's garage...never a good sound, means someone is working on something. At this hour, we're not interested in mechanic work, we just want to go back to our hotel so we can shower up. In the process of this repair routine, the long tail boat begins to drift, and not to the ocean mind you, but towards the rocks. The closer we get to the rock and time when impact will be, we know it will be like some Bruce Willis movie where the engine will start seconds before we make impact
Back to land we head. What we thought was going to be a 4 hour tour, turned out to be more like 7-8 hours.....for $18 a piece. Gotta love Thailand and its low prices.
The next two days on the island is spent enjoying the locals, the shops, the food, the beer and some Muay Thai boxing. This particular bar offers visitors the opportunity to spar with one another. On our next trip we will try to see the real deal in Bangkok Stadium. Oh yeah, one one of those days, I decided to take it easy in the ocean, and though I was careful to avoid the various rocks every couple of feet, one breast stroke kick landed me a nice gash right along the length of my big toe. I'm recovering.
Oh yeah, forgot to mention that Michele got an Ohm tattoo on the inside of her writst....Bamboo Style; she's going green and looking to conserve Koh Phi Phi energy
My last blog will be posted later to close out our trip and some of the things we've learned and some of the funny things we've seen along the way.
All vids of Koh Phi Phi are posted here.
Jean-Pierre / Michele