Phi Phi Don ("The Land of Backpackers and Day Trippers")
Boarded the ferry for the (1 1/2) hour trip. From the get go it seemed as though we were never going to make it to Phi Phi, as long tails from Noppharat beach kept coming and coming and coming and the people kept boarding and boarding onto the ferry. By the time we were ready to go, there was barely enough room for people to sit as the mountain of backpacks took the majority of the upper deck. The worst part was we still had to go to Railey Beach to pick up another 5-6 long tails full of people.
We stayed (3) nights at the Phi Phi Banyan Villas (great location, but got very loud in the wee hours of the morning). Having made it to the pier of Phi Phi Don, the island is everything it is advertised to be - absolutely beautiful. The only problem is you are definitely sharing the beach with 1,000's of other tourists, although by 4:00pm the day trippers from the surrounding islands have headed back making more room on the beach. A word of advice, don't do a day trip from
Phuket, Koh Lanta or Ao Nang - it really isn't worth it, especially if you do the ferry option. There is so much you don't see when you do a day trip and there are 1,000's of other day trippers that visit at the same time, which takes away from the beauty of this island and the island of Phi Phi Ley. If you stay on Phi Phi Don, you can get your own long tail and schedule around the day tours, allowing you to really enjoy the peace and scenery.
While on Phi Phi Don, we caught our own long tail at 7:30am to Ao Maya, allowing us to see the bay without the 1,000's of other tourists that arrive non-stop from 10:00am - 3:00pm. For those of you that aren't familiar with Ao Maya, it is where the movie "The Beach" was filmed. It is peaceful place when you don't have to share it. Back on Phi Phi Don, we headed up to the view points that provide fantastic views of Ao Loh Dalam and Ao Ton Sai. Ao Loh Dalam is absolutely beautiful, the clarity of the water is unbelievable and the water is as calm
as ice! The island has a very young feel and it definitely felt as though the island was bursting with energy from the youngsters - the vibe is much more of a party atomsphere than that of Krabi. Here on Phi Phi Don there is no presence of the lady boys and girly bars that you see in Phuket and Koh Samui. The island is a must along with Koh Lanta on anyone's Adaman Sea, Thailand itinerary.
Our trip has now headed into some of the areas affected by the 2004 Tsunami. On Phi Phi Don, the tsunamis struck from both bays at the same time leaving people no place to go. The waves were much stronger on Loh Dalam, Nui and Loh Lana bays, all on the west side where the tsunamis came. After the tsunami, approximately 70% of the buildings on the island had been destroyed. By the end of July 2005, an estimated 850 bodies had been recovered, and an estimated 1,200 people were still missing. The total number of fatalities is unlikely to be known. Of Phi Phi Don residents, 104 surviving children had lost one or both parents. It really hits home when you
Kata Noi, Kata & Karon Beaches
Phuket - a couple of the many beaches that line the coastline of Phuket
choose to eat at the make shift food stalls as we did for all our meals. We choose the "Smile Sky Sby" food stall (beside the Ice Cooler Guy, and opposite Samee) - awesome food, however it is a harsh reminder that the owner/chef of this one woman show once had her own restaurant up the road before everything was taken from here in a split second. The island is definitely booming with construction, and it is not difficult to see and feel the effect of the past. On the positive side, people are getting on with their lives and progressing forward - if the Cheap Ass backpackers would just stop bargaining the already ridiculous cheap prices of long tail boats and clothes, no doubt the locals would get back on their feet a wee bit quicker. We are backpackers ourselves, but to hackle over the equivalent of a pint in Dublin, Berlin, Sydney or MSG does no one any good - Especially those Cheap asses that take home the Euro or Pound on a daily basis - check yourself at the pier before you scourge the person trying to pay for their roof. Constructive tourism is not only to
visit the beautiful places of the world and take in the culture, but to help the locals that rely so heavily on tourism to live their daily lives.
Phuket ("Great Beaches & Lots of Tricks & Treats")
We stayed (5) nights in Karon Beach at the Pacific Club Resort & Spa (excellent value for the rooms and meals, friendly staff and quiet location, 10min ride to Patong and 1 min to Karon). The highlight of our stay was a (1) day snorkeling trip to the Similan Islands. It was a long day that started at 6:15am and did not end until 7:00pm, but the snorkeling was worth every minute. The water was crystal clear, allowing us to see turtles and all kinds of fish and coral. The beaches were also very nice, powder like sand. However, we did leave the trip a wee bit scared due to the fact that for both the (1 1/2) hr boat trips we had to sit across from a lady boy. When we weren't snorkeling the curious side got the better of us and the rest of the boat - no adams apple - ok!, but what is that thing
she/he is wearing underneath the bikni bottoms and what's with the lack of hips! Oh, but what sealed the deal was on the way back she/he insisted on (or not being able to feel due to the plastic makeup of it) showing us her left breast for a good 30 minutes. Oh - the nibble was tiny- manlike, and Isabel's keen eye noticed that the nibble after surgery hadn't been centered. Wow - these are the things we do to amuse ourselves - I guess it beats month end and audits!
What can we add that so many people have already said in other blogs and literature. Phuket literally and figuretively has more tricks and treats than a good night on Hallowen. It is lined with an incredible coastline full of good beaches and emerald green water. If you stay away from Patong Beach the prositutes and lady boys are less in your face. However, Patong is bursting with energy and is without a doubt the trashiest place we have visited, actually twice, we were here in 2001. We were curious to see the changes resulting from Dec 2004. Phuket has everything for the tourist; beaches, starbucks, malls and
rent-a-women/girl by the minute, hour, day, or month. Of course this is also a big European hang out - how do we know this? Where else in the world do 300Lb hairy men wear 24" waist speedos, and families by the dozen flock to restaurants to order bad Italian and other European food - Yuk. For God Sake, your in Thailand, home of one of the best cusinies in the world and your ordering shite European food - absolutely appauling. Unfortunately for those that want good Thai food, the only places are the food stalls and still you have to beg to get "Thai-Spicy". They have become so used to the European demand of taste that any Thai dish might as well be a plate of chicken or noodles drowned in water - how tasteless.
We are half way through our Thailand beaches tour, tomorrow we now head to the east coast to see the number (2) trashy destination of Koh Samui located in the Gulf of Thailand....... So for now we sign off by saluting you all with a large Singha & Chang!
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