Monday, 7 November 2011

Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, Thailand

I left Koh Tao on the night boat to Sura Thani. When I reached the boat I wasn't entirely sure what to expect; I'd been told there would be beds but it was pretty basic. I walked on board and dumped my bag then I was directed up some small stairs to the sleeping area. This consisted of a narrow passage with mattresses on the floor either side. It slowly started to fill up and by the time we left we were crammed in like sardines. One of the girls I'd met on the island was on the same boat so we managed to get space together. The boat took about 7 hours and I managed to get some sleep but it wasn't the best I'd ever had! We arrived in Surat Thani two hours early which is rare in Thailand. A van took took us to where we were to be picked up by the bus but we had a long wait non the less. I got a bus from Surat Thani to Krabi which took about 2 hours then the boat from Krabi to Koh Phi Phi. I met a couple of people I'd met on the night boat on the second boat so when we arrived on the island we decided to look for somewhere to stay together.

As the boat was arriving I was struck by how picturesque the island was; white beaches, clear water, and stunning cliffs. However after getting off the boat and walking through the town my opinion completely changed. It was overcrowded with westerners and had an unpleasant European holiday resort feel to it. I wasn't sure I'd stay very long after that. We headed for the Rock backpackers – cheap hostel accommodation that had been recommended to me. It was 200 baht/night very basic dorm rooms with fans and cold showers. There was a really friendly atmosphere and we knew it would probably be the cheapest we'd get so we decided to stay. In the dorm I was in there was 17 people and every day the beds were full. After dumping our bags we got some food and headed to the beach. The beach was very nice however it was full of people and deck chairs to rent so it still felt very touristy. Phi Phi is obviously a popular holiday destination as opposed to a backpackers destination. The water was scorching. At a guess I'd say we had to walk about 100m to get to above waist deep water and the whole time it wasn't refreshing as it was so warm! Eventually we reached patches of cooler water which was very much appreciated as it was so hot on the island, much warmer than Koh Tao and less rain as the monsoon season on the west coast had finished. That evening we went out for a few drinks but I was so tired from the trip over I didn't really enjoy myself so I didn't stay out very long. 

Viewpoint 3
After very little sleep from people coming back at all hours of the morning, I woke up early and decided I needed to go for a walk to clear my head. I knew there that there were some viewpoints on the island so I decided to find them. The first was about 4km from the hostel; first you walk up a long road and then turn off onto a dirt track through the jungle. Even just walking up the road you could see so much of the island and I began to like it. It felt like forever since I'd actually just been on my own so I really enjoyed having some time to myself. I saw a sign post to Viewpoint 3 and headed there. The view here was spectacular. You could see for miles and see the cliffs and beach either side of the joining land on the island. It was difficult to get a photo to do it justice. Whilst there I met two guys who had just come from view point 4; as I hadn't seen any signs they directed me and I decided to go whilst I was there. This was a further 20 minutes down the dirt track headed towards another beach. The view here wasn't anything in comparison to the first however it was still nice to look at. I walked back to the first viewpoint I'd visited in order to find 1 and 2. When I eventually found view point 2 it was evident that it was by far the
Viewpoint 4
most popular for tourists. There was even a small shop at the top and there was at least 20 people there. It was similar to the first one I'd visited although closer to the central point. (Photo at top of page)By this time it was getting towards mid afternoon and very hot. As I'd no more water and not actually eaten I decided to head back instead of looking for viewpoint 1 as I'd seen no signs what-so-ever. I descended down the more well used route of hundreds of steps down to Ton Sai village where I was staying. When I eventually found my way back to the hostel most people were awake and heading to the beach. After grabbing a bite to eat I joined them and chilled out for a while. That evening we decided to walk to the viewpoint to watch the sunset. Imy, Alec and I walked the same way I had done to Viewpoint 2. We were stood on the eastern part of the island and sadly the full sunset was blocked by the hills on the western but it was still nice to watch. Despite it being about 6pm it was still unbelievably warm so we got ice creams at the shop - Magnums have never tasted as soon in my life. 

I had a much better night that night so I decided I'd stay on the island a little longer. There are many limestone cliffs around the coastline so rock climbing is a popular activity. Rai Leh is meant to be a lot nicer but as I'd been in Thailand so long already and I'd heard it was very expensive to stay there I decided I wasn't going to make it there so did some climbing on Phi Phi instead. I went in the afternoon and was with 3 Lithuanian guys who'd never climbed before. It cost a lot more to do lead climbing so the instructor put the ropes up but he allowed me to lead belay and second him before showing the guys what to do. This was good because it meant I got to do a lot more than the others. We were out for 4 hours and I got about 5 routes done. I think they were about 30-40 metres but I'm not sure on the grades. They weren't overly difficult though. The views from the top were amazing - the cliffs I was climbing were the west side so it was a slightly different view than the viewpoints which was nice. I was pretty tired out by the end because it was so hot and I hadn't done any climbing in at least 7 weeks. 

The next day I had another lazy day on the beach with one of the guys from the dorm. The previous two days exercise and lack of sleep in the dorm left me ready to do very little. I decided that I would only spend one more night on the island before starting my trip to Malaysia. It was a little cooler that day so we just chilled out in the sea and slept on the beach for a while - a nice way to say goodbye to the islands. About half the people currently in the dorm were leaving the next day so we all went out for food and then drinks. Whilst I'd got used to night scene on Phi Phi it didn't mean I liked it. If you looked at the beach bars it looked and sounded tacky and cheap: multi coloured flashing lights and really bad music came from pretty much everywhere in sight. Later on there was lightening which was really cool as you could see the bolts so clearly and it lit up the whole sky. 

The next morning I booked my boat to Krabi where I decided I'd spend one night to split the trip to Penang, Malaysia.One of the guys I'd met is doing essentially the same trip as me so we decided to go to Krabi together and then decide from there. After booking the boat most of the day was spent chilling out at the Rock and saying bye to people. We eventually went to the pier at about 3pm and got on our boat to Krabi. When we arrived we got a taxi to the centre. I'd been recommended two places to stay; the first was full but we found the second by chance and stayed there. For the same price as the rock we had hot showers, wifi, aircon, clean rooms, duvet and proper security. I was so excited by the luxury of a hot shower and a comfy bed I almost wanted to stay an extra night. 

We went and got food a the outdoor food court. I just got fried rice with vegetable but it was so cheap and really good. There was several patio table and chair set out and various food stalls around. After spending so much time on the islands it was great to finally feel like I was in a different country again. There were so many locals sat around us and the waitresses barely spoke any English - a great way to spend my last night in Thailand. After eating we went to check out the night market: it seem to go on for about a mile! Stalls of all varieties and even some fairground type stalls - locals were throwing darts to pop balloons to win cuddly toys, it was so surreal. It turned out it was a Muslim festival on that particular night so there was a live band playing too. Thai music has never been something I've particularly been into but it was a novelty in itself. After walking the length of the market we headed back to the dorm, but not before booking our bus to Penang for the following morning. Last night spent in Thailand completed, next stop Malaysia.

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