Published: January 10th 2007December 24th 2006
For the last few days, or weeks to be exact, everyone around me has been frantically shopping, baking and generally preparing for Christmas. What have I been doing? Sitting back and dreaming of far distant places, blue seas and sun kissed white sand beaches.
Yes, at last, our long awaited dream was about to be fulfilled and just to make it even more perfect Sharon and Scott were going to join us on 'their island' of Ko Phi Phi, Thailand.
We arrived at Krabi Airport after nearly 22 hours of travelling and marched outside expecting to be bombarded with taxi touts. Not one in sight! where were they when you needed one? It turned out the only option was to go back inside and queue up at the official desk and be prepared to pay the non negotiable price. We jumped into the allocated limousine and sped of towards Ao Nang, our first port of call before getting the ferry over to the island of Phi Phi the following day.
After a picturesque drive through the dramatic scenery of Krabi Province we reached a street bustling with shoppers and street traders. The driver stopped at the bottom of a
dusty steep path and announced that Ya Ya Bungalows (one of our choices from the trusty Lonely Planet Guide) were up there somewhere, but he couldn't take us as it was too steep! We spotted some scrawlled white writing on the side of the wall saying 'Ya Ya Bungalows' so set off in search. Now we really were backpacking, and, on our own without the help and guidance of Sharon and Scott who weren't joining us until the next day.We were soon informed by a friendly looking guy that Ya Ya Bungalows no longer existed, now what? Of course, he had a bungalow of his own for rent but it was 3 times the price we'd been expecting. We began to walk away saying we'd think about it, that's when he informed us that it was the last vacant one and every where else would be far more expensive and probably booked out due to it being nearly Christmas. What to do? We agreed to look inside and I immediatly warmed to it, we knocked him down by 200 baht to 1,000 and to my great relief the deal was done. At last I could rest my travel weary bones.
Ao Nang Beach
Is it possible just yesterday we were muffled up in thick coats and scarves?
Before taking a rest though we wanted to go and explore before darkness fell. We started off on the beach, it seemed weird, yesterday we were wrapped up in thick coats and scarves and now a few hours later we were itching to jump in the sea to cool down. After a short while we walked along the beach and were amazed to find monkeys playing on the sand and jumping around in the jungle like vegetation at the back of the beach. Then, after trying to work out how we could get to Phi Phi the following morning we gave up and dropped onto the bed in our cute bungalow and fell asleep. Sometime after I awoke to darkness and a strange irritating noise, thinking it was the fan I turned it off. As the blades stopped rotating the noise continued, I stepped outside thinking I might see some kind of machinery working away, nothing.It was then that the guy in the next bungalow explained that it was insects in the trees. I've heard crickets and cicadas before but this was nothing like I'd heard before but somehow didn't find it so annoying when I knew what it
was. I asked him if it stopped later at night. He replied that he didn't know as by the time he got in around 2am he was past hearing or caring. Ask a stupid question!
Our friendly bungalow owner arranged for a 'taxi' to pick us up next day and take us to the ferry for Phi Phi. He showed us a picture of a lovely 2 story,air-conditioned ferry.
Next morning bright and early we stood waiting on the busy Ao Nang street waiting for our taxi. A small mini van (sawngthaew) pulled up with an open back, this was our taxi it was crammed to capacity with people in the back and bags on the roof. We somehow managed to squeeze in after putting our bags on top and hoping they would still be there when we arrived at our destination. Clinging on for dear life we set off stopping twice to cram yet more people in!
When we arrived at the port there was the beautiful ferry, but, however, we were ushered onto a small Longtail boat, squeezing four people to a plank (oops, sorry I meant seat) the bags were all placed precariously on the bow
Tsunami Escape Route
Chilling reminder of 2 years ago
and we set sail. Now by this time I was silently cursing our 'friendly' bungalow owner, this was not going to be a pleasant journey. 2 hours on the open ocean watching as my bag looked very likely to go overboard, that's if the whole boat managed not to sink!
Fear not! after a few minutes we pulled up along side a ferry out at sea and transfered onto it. Me, feeling mean and guilty, for ever doubting our friendly bungalow owner!
The journey was pleasant and the scenery spectacular, beautiful limestone forms jutted out of the sea all around us, surrounded by a blue ocean and even bluer sky.
We arrived on Phi Phi and dragged our bags from the huge pile, as we walked along the pier porters were stood holding up large name tags with hotel names on. One had P.P. Casita on, we approached him and he told us to put our bags in his cart and follow with the rest of the people staying in our hotel.There are no roads on Phi Phi at all and I had wondered how we were going to find our hotel, problem solved. We trailed along for
Our Cute Bungalow.
Set in jungle like gardens
10 minutes or so while the poor guy pushed a huge pile of bags along a rough pathway, negotiating throngs of people and even trees growing in the middle of the path. The hotel exceded our expectations and turned out to be quite nice even though it was built next to the water treatment plant. We'd booked the rooms for 2 nights only so tried to extend the booking but were told they were completly full. All we had to do now was go and find rooms for in 2 days time. We began to quickly realise this was not going to be easy, most places told us they were either full 'till January or would not know until 11am on any given morning when people checked out. I began to think we would be sleeping on the beach.
At 4pm we made our way to the pier and sat sipping beer while waiting for Sharon and Scott's ferry to arrive. As we saw one sail into view, my stomach gave a churn, half excitement at seeing them again and half anxious in case they hadn't made it for some reason. As the seeming hundreds of backpackers poured off,
no Sharon and Scott. The mass turned into a trickle and I strained my eyes to see the last few bodies clamber off. Then I saw them! Yes, we were finally going to be together again. It turned out their bags had been at the bottom of a huge pile so they'd had to wait 'till last. ( I also tend to think she likes to tease me a bit!)
We dumped their bags in the room, declining the use of the cart this time as we knew our way to the hotel now, and walked to the nearest beach, Ao Lo Dalam, it wasn't possible to swim as the tide was out, so instead we sat in a bar and caught up on all the news.
Later that evening we dined together before Sharon and Scott crashed into bed, exausted after 2 days solid travelling. Stan and I watched a fire show at Carpe Diem before crashing out ourselves. Despite being a muslim country, it had felt very christmassy, Christmas trees and decorations were every where and many of the waiters ect. wore Santa Clause hats. Some plants were even sprayed with fake snow!
There are more photos below