Wednesday, December 31, 2014

12/21/14 Day 339 Searching for the Nature at Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

Stepping off of the ferry onto the hectic dock was overwhelming to say the least, with a horde of backpackers piling off of three different ferries at once, being hounded by touts persistently attempting to book their guest houses, and on top of all this chaos a 20 baht mandatory "keep Ko Phi Phi clean" fee for admittance from the dock. We searched high and low for a cheap place to sleep for two nights as the holiday season approaches on the most touristy island in Thailand, the best we can do is a cheap guesthouse near city center for 1,050 baht for two nights. For 16$ a night we could do a lot worse. Everything on this island has exorbitant costs, diving is more than double the price at Ko Tao, day trips to nearby Maya Bay where the movie The Beach was filmed have additional landing fees and food is marked way up on the whole island. Street food options were not as bountiful as we were hoping, since they bulldozed the once thriving street market to make room for another hotel. Papaya is known for having really cheap and delicious food and definitely lived up to its reputation, but the winner for us was this hole in the wall restaurant nested between a pizza place and "fast food" just steps from Loh Dalum Bay. The walls are covered in glowing testimonies from previous devotees inscribed in sharpie and only seats about a dozen patrons at a time. The rice soup is unparalleled, with robust seasoning, dropped egg and delectable mushrooms; a filling meal for two for the small price of 70 baht! Everything on the island is horribly built up, after being flattened less than 10 years ago by a tsunami, it is like it never happened though, a bigger, better human constructed secondary succession with new high rise hotels budding up all over the place. We spent the whole next day hiking up to the viewpoint (20 baht) and up and over to the North side of the island. It took us around 2.5 hours to arrive on the northeastern shore, and as soon as we were comfortably situated on our beach towels the clouds started to roll in. Really dark, heavy clouds, creeping closer we began to wonder if we should take action, group decision a yes. Just as we packed our last things into the waterproof backpack the torrential downpour dumped along the expanse of the bay. We booked it to the nearby resort where we took cover for the next 30 drenching minutes. When the flow finally began to drizzle we started our way back to town through the saturated jungle. Our favorite beach on the whole island turned out to be Long Beach, just a twenty minute hike South of the main dock with an uninterrupted stretch of white sand and minimal people. We prepared for an all night epic rager for which Ko Phi Phi is famed for. The expected overpriced buckets, predictable fire spinning and terrible pop music were all present, but what did shock us was the LED limbo. No reckless and dangerous fire limbo and jump rope?! Apparently safety is at least vaguely acknowledged on this island. We left the next morning, back onto the dock crawling with people where we handed off our three "keep Ko Phi Phi clean" tickets, along with our paid admission slips to the viewpoint to save some lucky travelers 120 baht, two whole large Changs.

Touts at the dock begging for a guest
On an island with no real roads and minimal scooters, bicycles rule the streets

The first viewpoint
Gaining altitude at the second viewpoint

Up the hill
Big beautiful butterflies

Loh Bagao Bay, just before the rain
After the downpour

The mist descended upon us in the jungle after the rain

A whole new kind of poi spinning, it looks like a spinning firework igniting the sky. Steel Wool is used to create a quick combustion of sparks for a few minutes; but it is clearly hot and dangerous because the performers spin really fast, stay stationed in calf deep water (unlike most shows on the sand), the show is relatively short and they will throw the poi into the water and run for it without hesitation. 

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