Koh Phi Phi

    It’s a one hour ferry ride to Koh Phi Phi. Not near as bad as the four plus hour ride from Phuket to Koh Lanta. I get to the Tonsai Pier around 2:30pm. There are no tuk tuks or red trucks on Koh Phi Phi, but the island is so small you can pretty much walk everywhere - which I prefer. I find my hostel, check in and decide to make the most of the day. I want to hike up to the viewpoint for sunset. As I’m about to leave I meet one of my room-mates, Asmaa. She is originally from Casablanca but is now living in Cannes. It’s her second day here, but she hasn’t done the viewpoint yet so she joins me.

    Thirty minutes and a steep hike later, we are at the viewpoint. It’s pretty amazing to look down on the island, which consists of two large chunks, mostly uninhabited because of rough mountainous terrain, that are joined by a small spit of beachy land. This spit is where Tonsai Village is located and most of the life of the island.

    That night, along with a guy from Ireland - Ollie, we hit the famous Reggae Pub, where they have a Muay Thai Boxing ring right in the middle of the bar. Periodically they ask for volunteers from the crowd to go up and fight. Asmaa decides she wants to do it. At first there are no other females volunteering, but after the ref parades her around the ring requesting an opponent, a girl finally steps forward. Asmaa does really well, considering she has never fought before in her life, but after three rounds, the ref declares the other woman the victor.

    That night we find a travel agent and Asmaa signs up for a boat tour for the next day. Realizing I have no idea what to do tomorrow, I sign up as well. The tour will run from 11am to 6:30pm, take us to numerous islands, including the famous Maya bay, which gained popularity after being used for the 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio film “The Beach”. The tour also includes some snorkeling.

    The next morning we set out. We board a Long-Tail, a long wooden boat with what appears to be a car engine attached to the back that projects out a long shaft at the end of which is the propeller. It’s quite impressive to watch these guys drive these things.

    The ride out to Bamboo Island, our first stop, is a wet one. When we get into open water, we are bombarded by wave after wave. Everyone is completely soaked. I don’t mind so much but my back-pack is drenched and I’m hoping my camera, which is inside nestled in a towel, is safe. It turns out ok. A little wet but nothing major.

    We spend an hour at Bamboo beach before moving on to cruise by some other islands and find a snorkeling spot. Snorkeling is nice, there are a ton of fish, but they’re all the same kind. Not much variety. I get bored after a bit so I head back to the boat.

    Next stop is Monkey Beach. Not much beach to it, but the draw here is the monkeys that come out of the jungle to steal people's stuff and scavenge food from Tourists. It’s interesting enough, but the scene is kind of sad. These monkeys are just trying to live, find food, and there are tons and tons of tourists trying to coax them with bananas and snapping endless photos. I snap one myself, but he was already hanging out, I don’t tempt him with anything. Still, I feel kind of bad. I know it’s just a monkey, but I don’t know, it bothers me for some reason.

    After that we head to Maya bay. We spend a good while there before heading back to the sea to catch the sunset. The ride back is rougher than the one coming out. The boat is pounded by waves and, if it is possible get more soaked than we had the first time, we do.

    That night we find a great little restaurant (one that I will end up eating at three times before I leave Phi Phi) called Papaya. Not much in the way of decor, there are just plastic tables and chairs, but the food is stellar. I had fried fish with garlic and pepper. 

    Later we go to a bar called Rolling Stoned, where a Thai band is playing a ton of American rock covers. Strangely I don’t mind it and, I have to admit, the guitarist is really good. At one point the band asks for volunteers to come up and sing. Asmaa does, of course - twice actually. One time singing Nothing Else Matters and the other time Zombie. Once the band is done, we end up in a game of pool with a couple from France. I’m not that great, and we’re playing by the “French” rules… which I didn’t even know was a thing. 

    Thursday is my last night in Koh Phi Phi and I figure I need to check out what the island is really famous for. The parties on the beach on the northern side of the spit. Asmaa, Ollie, a girl from the Netherlands, Marieke, and I hit Papaya again for dinner then head to the beach to brave the insane, bombastic music and get a few drinks. The dance floors don’t appeal to me of course, but I am enthralled by the fire shows. All along the beach, guys are twirling sticks of fire, throwing them in the air, catching them behind their backs, all kinds of crazy shit. It’s actually pretty cool. Why am I mesmerized by fire so much?

     The next day I say goodbye to everyone and I’m on another ferry. This time to Ao Nang.