On wednesday (26.10.2016), we arrived at our most favourite place in Thailand so far: the Phi Phi Islands. The Phi Phi Islands are a set of 2 separate Islands, Koh Phi Phi Don, which has all the accommodation and Koh Phi Phi Leh, which is smaller and uninhabited.
Our hotel for the nights to come was set right in the center of the small town and right in front of a small food market. We’d read that the best Pad Thai in the world could be eaten here and we decided to put it to the test! I got to say, it’s the best Pad Thai I’ve eaten so far (you never know, there might be a better one out there) and if you ever make your way to Phi Phi, go to Pa Noi and try it.
After we arrived on the island, we checked in and had a wander about in the small town. We soon realised, how much we liked it and decided to extend our three nights stay to a five nights stay.
The next two days were spent on the beach. We couldn’t believe that we were actually lucky enough to have some sunny days and we were determined to soak as much of it in as we could. The best part about it is, that we managed to not get a sunburn! (Still can’t believe how that worked out for us!)
For the next day we had booked a day tour on a boat around Koh Phi Phi Leh, but as we arrived in the morning to check-in, we were told, that only 6 people were booked in for the day and if it would be okay to push us to the following day to get a bigger group of people and to make it more fun and therefore a better experience for us. So another day on the beach for us! Sadly the sky was covered in clouds rather than the clear blue sky of the two previous days. Still a good enough day to spend reading with the sound of the waves in the background though.
The next day we finally went on our boat trip with about 20 – 25 others. Great amount of people and definitely worth waiting.
Our tour guide for the day was Whitney, a very loud, happy and not at all shy Canadian, born in Ireland. Whitney was definitely a good leader for the so far very quiet group.
Our first stop was Monkey Beach, where we were separated into two groups and were being taken to the monkeys on a tiny boat. The monkeys (macaques) were already sitting in the branches (Äste), waiting for us to arrive with the fruit that Whitney had handed out to us. Whitney told us to watch out for Big Papa, the boss-monkey. He would be very easy to identify, she said, as Big Papa has very big balls. They were pretty big indeed. Crammed in a tiny boat with about 10 others we tried to feed the monkeys by throwing the fruit at them. And I got to say, they’re not very good at catching! Especially Big Papa! As a result most of it fell in the clear blue water. The second we left though, the monkeys started diving (tauchen) and fighting for what was waiting for them in the water. The second group was taken to the actual beach (there’s 4 monkey beaches next to each other), where they were able to get out of the tiny boat and to actually go onto the beach and feed the monkeys face to face. We should have gone with group two!;) Still, a very nice experience to come that close to wild macaques!
On our way to the next stop, we drove past the Viking Cave, which has a very interesting story to tell. There are people living in the cave (currently 24) for four years at a time, only leaving to pick up food from the mainland. Their job is to, after breeding season, climb the cliffs to retrieve eagle nests, which are then sold to China, where they can be purchased for the very cheap price of $8-10,000 each. The Chinese believe the nests bring good luck and beauty when turned into a soup and eaten. Now, all of you probably know what these nests are made of and I’m sure you would just as much as me consider them as a delicacy! Whitney informed us the record price was $88,000 for a nest that contained larger than usual amounts of bird spit and shit! For the mens dangerous work they are paid 1000 baht per day (25€), which is quite good money by Thai standards.
The following stop was Phi Phi Leh Lagoon, where Whitney showed us her very sexy way of putting a lifejacket on. First, you step into the wholes normally meant for the arms, the back part needs to be in the back, then you pull it up and buckle it up. Looks a bit like a diaper when you’re done. At first I thought she was joking and might start laughing at all of us for being dumb enough to actually believe her, but she really meant it. Again, we were separated into two groups and transferred to the Lagoon via our tiny boat. Arrived at the Lagoon we finally found out, why the hell we all put those lifejackets on in this somewhat unusual way. Wearing a lifejacket-diaper enabled us to float in the water whilst enjoying a cold beer. What a life we’re living! This was the stop for our group to finally open up a bit. And it was time for me to meet Felipe! The easiest way to describe him might be: he’s my portuguese Josh. And for all of my friends, that should explain everything. Felipe is a 27 year-old portuguese vet. I’d describe him as very loud, funny, passionate and easy to get along with. We soon established a small group floating along with our beers. There was Whitney, Felipe, Simon and Nina (Germans! We’re absolutely everywhere!), Billy and his girlfriend, who’s name we sadly forgot (from near Manchester, the english are absolutely everywhere as well!). Once everyone had arrived at the Lagoon, Whitney made us introduce ourselves, by giving our name, country and a fun fact. We were a huge group of all different nationalities (English, German, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Chilean, Chinese, Canadian).
After an hour of drinking, laughing and exchanging stories of all sorts we had to head back on our big boat, again, via the tiny boat. Easier said than done. It seemed like we’ve had spend just a few minutes too much in the Lagoon, as the tide had gone out, leaving shallow water that made our journey back nearly impossible. We got stuck on the rocks quite a few times, which forced some of the guys to hop out and help Whitney to steer. Doesn’t sound too bad and quite like an adventure, thing is though, that the water was filled with sea urchins (Seeigel), which cause a tremendous pain if you step on one. Without any injuries we bravely (some more than others) managed to get back on the big boat.
Our next and last stop was the famous Maya Bay, which was featured in the movie The Beach, starring Leonardo Di Caprio. Whitney informed us, that we were lucky enough to be the first group after three months to go into the bay with our boat. (The last three months the waves were too high, due to the rainy season). We got a beautiful panoramic view over the whole bay and beach, which was not too crowded (this can change VERY quickly over the high season). Here we had the chance to either go onto the beach (and pay 400 baht to just stand on the stand) or to swim in the bay and try out some activities. Tom and I quickly decided that we didn’t want to pay 10€ to go onto a beach and decided to give standup paddle boarding a go. Guys, watching Tom trying to stand up is the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen! Trying to just kneel (knien) on the bard, he fell over millions of times, but he did not give up. 15 minutes later and lots and lots of salt water being swallowed, he finally managed to get on his feet for 3 seconds, before he, again, fell into the water very dramatically. I on the other hand could absolutely not understand what his problem was at all. It really is not that hard! Only the steering (lenken) was a bit of a challenge for me at first, but I got the hang of it very quickly. Yay me. After about an hour of paddling, snorkelling and some more beer-floating the sun had set and we headed back to Koh Phi Phi Don.
As we didn’t want the night to end already, we asked Whitney for the place to go on the island, which she very quickly pointed out to be BananaBar. After having a shower and dinner, we headed to the said establishment. We’ve met up with Felipe and his friend Magarida and some of the french guys who were on the boat trip as well (Alex, Clement, Thomas and Alex again). We drank a few beers, went to the beach for a few more and after a lot of laughs and interesting travel stories told, we ended up getting home at about 3am. Thank god our ferry to Koh Lanta the following day didn’t leave until 3pm.