Published: August 27th 2012May 28th 2012
Phi Phi view point
stunning bays on each side of a town
Sometimes when we travel we just simply cannot avoid touristy places. They are touristy for a reason, because they are amazingly beautiful or very distinctive. You can both accept that and wish there would be very few people around or you can skip the place at all. Phi Phi Islands
are one of those places, I guess. On one hand we did not want to see crowds of tourists and on the other we really wanted to see Maya Bay and Phi Phi Leh. We came in a low season so we thought the place would be a little bit deserted but we could not have been more wrong.
We knew we could not expect Ko Phi Phi Don
to be quiet and small but we did not anticipate such a development of western bars and restaurants. We had to wander for some time before we could even find a room with acceptable price for us (400Baht) and that was in a low season. It was full of young and very polished people who were vacationing and enjoying themselves to the max. It did not look like a backpackers place at all, not that it was supposed to. However when
we looked closer we got to like this place (did not expect that at all). The scenery was stunning with some nice beaches around, especially the Long Beach, and we were in the tropics. There was nothing really to complain about.
The only thing we did not like was the weather. It was almost end of May and monsoon season was coming earlier this year (unexpected thing number two). Every day we were hit with 3-4 massive storms, some of the force that broke trees in half. One day we were enjoying sunny weather at the Long Beach
when we saw massive storm and black clouds getting closer and closer to us. I really felt sorry for anybody trapped at the sea at that time. It suddenly got really dark, very windy and rain came so rapidly that we only had time to hide in some nearby shop. We shared very little space of a dry surface with 3 stray cats that were trying to escape being wet too. At that very moment we could not stop thinking about tsunami in 2004 that hit the island as so many pictures and signs remind you of it at the island
all the time. We also wondered how we are going to see Maya Bay with this weather patterns as we couldn’t and didn’t want to stay at the island for many days.
One day we woke up and it was nice and sunny so we went quickly to the tour agency we located before and signed up for Maya Bay
tour (cheapest we found was 200Baht/7$ per person). We felt so happy that we could see this stunning scenery in such a nice light and sunny weather as this was one sole reason why we arrived at the island. We were also pleased that only a few boats left for the tour that day which meant no crowds. People did not want to risk going out in the sea with this rapidly changing weather I guess. We had an amazing morning, snorkeling around hidden bays, admiring limestone karsts and could not wait for Maya Bay which was left at the end.
We were told that because of the wind and strong waves we could not just sail into the bay and we have to take the ‘back entrance
’. We did not think of it much at the time
still sunny at Long Beach
but storm will arrive soon
as it does not really matter how you get there, right? It was then that we saw the back entrance, which was basically a flight of stairs on the rock and a latter made of rope to support you so that big waves would not crash you on the rock. No problem, right? Expect that we had to swim to that rock and climb on the stairs at the exact moment when waves were retracting and they were really big and scary. Some people (Japanese and Chinese mostly) did not even try as they were too terrified which we thought was unfair on them as they paid to see Maya Bay. For someone who is not a good swimmer it was a task impossible to do. It was an adventure for sure and it was one of a few occasions when Tomek said to me: “Baby, I am really proud of that you were not scared to do that”
. Who would have thought we would be doing this on that day (unexpected thing number 3)? Well, maybe I wanted to see this bay really badly ;-)
We had amazing 45 minutes on THE BEACH although we could not see
few more would follow each day
its full beauty with flat turquoise water and long boats around. On the other hand there were only 10 of us so it was a nice experience. We had a swim, took some photos and we were just starting to relax when we saw a storm cloud approaching and everything went dark around us. Everybody started to pack their bags and going back towards the boat. Now we had to do this bloody swim again but in opposite direction. Fortunately waves became a little bit smaller so it was easier but still exhausting to swim to the boat against strong current. We all questioned why the boatman wanted to go to Phi Phi Don as we could easily waited it out in this small and secure bay. I find a combination of a small boat and big waves quite scary so I was not amused. Boys on our boat had a great time though, including Tomek, taking photos of big waves etc. It was ok for the time when we were surrounded by Phi Phi Leh but once at the open sea waves became horribly big – around 3m I would say as they were higher than our boat –
Us and Maya
maybe water was not picture-perfect-flat but we could enjoy almost empty beach
and it was really horrible. We have to give a credit to the boatman as he was excellent at gliding along those big waves but one he missed and our boat just dropped few meters down which was just appalling. We were so close to the shore (maybe 2km) but still in the middle of a rain storm so you can imagine it was a nightmare trip (unexpected thing number 4).
We made it safe of course and suddenly felt so tired. Probably the adrenaline was wearing off. I just hoped that our trip back to the mainland would be less dramatic. It was ok and we were happy to reach Railey Beach
in one piece ;-) We had to stop there for 3 days just to have one morning of a good weather to really see the place. Tham Phra Nang was our favorite place. We really liked Railey and its backpackers’ feel, bars and live music every night. We stayed in Rapala Cabana, the cheapest dig in the village and spent a lot of time at the Last Bar, which is literally last on the beach hahah They had great and cheap food, live music, TV, free
Wi-Fi and fire shows every night – great place. Because of the early arrival of monsoon this year we made a decision (sadly) to skip Ko Lipe and head to Malaysia instead. Useful Travel Tips: - be careful when you book your ticket when getting to Phi Phi from the Gulf of Thailand (Ko Samui etc). We got it from Coral Bungalows on Ko Pha-Ngan (boat-bus-boat combo for 750Baht each) and it was fine but we met people who paid for a combo but only got a ride to Krabi as their agent scammed them on tickets;-( - when climbing to the Phi Phi view point from the town you are asked to pay an entrance fee as this land is private but if you go from the other side of town there is no ticket office;-) Additional Note – Summary of Thailand:
• 33 days, 6 towns/cities and 5 islands
• our favorite place: must be Ko Nang Yuan Island
• our favorite food: Masaman Curry for Tomek and Panang Curry for me
• our favorite landscape: view from the top of the Ko Nang Yuan Island
• our favorite activities: cooking course in Chang Mai
• our favorite hotel/guest-house: Coral Bungalows on Ko Pha Ngan
• our favorite thing about Thailand: great food, great vibe and easy travels
• least favorite thing about Thailand: it is the only country in SE Asia that charges you 5$ per every ATM withdrawal – can be avoided by getting a cash advance in any Bank for free (just pretend that your card does not work in ATM)
• our cost per day incl. visa and transport: 30£/47$ per day for both of us
There are more photos below