Standard Bank on 'The Beach'
Trip Start Jul 16, 2012
77Trip End Ongoing
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Don’t get me wrong Phi Phi is not all terrible, Long Beach which is a little way along from the main town is stunning, with white sand and no teenagers making a racket
We knew that there was a viewpoint in Phi Phi which is great to climb to watch the sun set, and when I say climb I mean it. We had read that it was pretty hard, so clad in our trainers and best walking gear we set off with water in one hand and our cameras in the other ready for the ascent. There is no joke when they say this is a bit tough, especially in 40 degree sun. We started on a road, then moved onto a mud track, which just went on, and on and on. There were signs here and there along the way to assure us we were going the right way, but strangely the signs seemed to change their mind between viewpoint 1, 2 and 3 on a regular basis and we are still not entirely sure how many viewpoints there are? We did however make it to a viewpoint, which was impressively packed with other hot looking people, most of whom had not worn sensible walking shoes for the climb and were looking a bit dejected at the prospect of the walk down in flip flops
The main event and the reason that we chose to convene in Koh Phi Phi was that Tim and I had discovered a pretty cool tour. The Maya Bay Sleepaboard. Maya Bay the home of 'The Beach’ is only open to day trippers and this one company has the exclusive right to moor a boat in the bay for the night. The website makes it sound amazing, you get a mattress and duvet and sleep on the roof of the boat under the stars after an afternoon of snorkelling, a BBQ dinner on the beach and a night snorkel with Bioluminescence. What is not to like?! Our biggest fear in booking this tour was that it would be jam packed full of the aforementioned drunk and annoying teenage backpackers, so we kept everything crossed that the price would put them off. So the day came and we headed over to the pier and initially began to panic as the boat was rammed full of people, fortunately we quickly realised that there was another tour on the boat that would be going home after dinner so there were just 22 of us sleeping on the boat. The group seemed to be pretty cool, none of the obvious teenagers in their day glow ‘Same Same’ t-shirts and fisherman pants so it looked like our luck was in, we made a few friends, but on the whole it quickly became apparent that we were the noisy annoying ones on the boat and seemingly we were being given a wide birth
Strangely Lyn and Gary who trained us on Koh Mook told us that they were headed to Phi Phi to look for work as Koh Mook had shut down for the season and unbelievably as we were stood outside the dive shop they walked past and tapped us on the shoulder, sadly they were not up and running soon enough for us to dive with them again but we did go with another company and had an amazing dive. Our first Scuba knowing that we were not going to be tested at the bottom of the sea and we could just enjoy the ocean around us. The islands and reef around Phi Phi are part of a national park and are protected so they are in very good condition, leading to some great diving. Next to Koh Tao Phi Phi is probably the most popular place to dive with a whole host of different sites. We went first to Koh Bida Nok. Here we did have to learn one more scuba skill, the long stride, having only ever dived from a longtail suddenly we were being spoilt on a big boat. Long stride, done. Koh Bida Nok has a phenomenal wall of reef, I have never seen so many big blue starfish, but for me the highlight of this dive was seeing a box fish
Our second dive was at a site called Palong and this is renowned for seeing white tip reef sharks and turtles. The problem was that our dive started at 5pm, so light was fading fast, the sea was stirring and the visibility was reduced to about 5 meters. Which is not really what you want when there is a chance you might come face to face with a shark (albeit a non bity reef shark). I was not really enjoying this dive particularly and was getting through my air at a rate of knots. There were fish to see, huge shoals of little silver fish that darted in every direction if you flicked your fingers towards them, giant puffa fish hiding in rocks, shrimps lurking in the crevaces, even a stunning lion fish just hovering underneath us. Then our dive master Jamie pointed to something and I filled my mask with water by breaking out a huge smile. There was a massive turtle just a few feet from us just happily nibbling on the rocks. Suddenly the lack of visibility was meaningless and this became one of my favourite dives yet, thanks Mr Turtle, you were awesome
Our last couple of days in Phi Phi we chilled around our pool and made the most of our lilos, it is back on the proper backpacker route and touring from here so we recharged our batteries and enjoyed the amazing western food on Phi Phi. I found a shop that sold cheese and pickle baguettes and basically ate nothing else for 4 days, bliss.
One of my favourite things about Phi Phi is the cats, as the locals are nearly all Muslim they have cats rather than dogs and there are cats literally everywhere. Our hotel had some awesome cats, one that must have weighed half a stone, a lovely old black girl who used to hang out with me at the pool and my favourite a porky white and tabby who used to hang out on our balcony and would lie in the doorway like a doormat. I brought him into our room one night and he curled up with me and watched a film, gotta love a hotel that comes with a free cat.
Next stop Bangkok (again) then northwards and onto Laos. Bye Bye Andaman Sea, we will see you soon hopefully!