Craig and Ross in Thailand, 2009

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December 27th 2009
Published: December 27th 2009
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Episode 5: Phi Pii Island to Phuket and homeward bound.
December 27 (Blogged by Craig)
Hello everyone. Hope you all had a good Christmas and all that. We were actually quite happy to be free of it here in Thailand, apart from a few woosy Christmas trees and decorations in hotels and bars.
Our last blog entry talked about Krabi province in the South. We had a great time at West Railay and Phra Nang beaches. Spectacular liestomes cliffs interspersed with white sandy beaches and aqua marine water that was like a lukewarm bath (The limestones karst cliffs here look like giant blocks of honeycomb, with dripping wax sprinkled about). Adjacent to West Railay is Ton Sai, a rock climbing mecca. We watched enthrallled as people clambered like spiders up the sheer rock face. We meet a nice French guy , who offered to come paint our front room. That was very nice of him, but we felt that we had heard that somewhere before, and declined (sorry, Jacky).

From West Railay we caught a ferry to Ko Phi Phi, a world renowned spot of exceptional natural beauty - and human beauty as it turned out. Ko Phi Phi is in fact two islands; Phi Phi Don, which is inhabited and full of hotels, bars, etc, and Phi Phi Lei, uninhabited and breathtaking. Phi Phi Lei was immortalised in the Leonardo De Caprio movie, "The Beach".

Anyway, there must be Beauty police at the pier on arrival at Phi Phi Don, because EVERYONE was young and beautiful. Tanned bare-chested men everywhere (!) and stunning women in bikinis in every direction. The beauty police must have gone for a toilet break when Ross and I arrived, allowing us to slip through undetected. Chistmas eve on Phi Phi Don saw wild parties in bars all up and down the beach, with fireworks, loud music and people jumping naked through large rings of fire ! Most of the tourists here appear to be young Poms and Europeans. (On Chrissy day, exhausted bodies were littered up and down the sand, with incongruous santa hats still on their heads, fast asleep, face down in the beating hot sun.)

We walked up a hill for great views over the island. The island is made of two rocky massess connected by a narrow sandy isthmus - so there are two beautiful bays. It was at this time 5 years ago that the place was destroyed by the tsumani - a 5 metre wall of water washed across one bay, and a 3 metre wave across the other bay, meeting in the middle and demolishing almost everything, including over 2000 people - mostly tourists. But now there is no evidence of the tsumani, it is back to normal.
We spent one great afternoon at a very chilled out bar on the sand called Monkey Bar, which played pop hits that had be turned into reggae beats. The music, the sunset, the cold beer.........ahhhh........

The underwater life on Phi Phi Island is just as exciting as the bar life. We joined a half day snorkelling trip
that went to several spots, by speed boat (this was a nautical version of the minivan ride, hurtling across the waves at break neck speed). It was great though, as it meant we spent more time at the snorkelling spots, compared to getting a slower longtail boat. Anyway, at the eponymous Shark Point, we were thrilled to encounter several black tipped reef sharks ! It was excellent - first time I've ever seen sharks while snorkelling. The colourful fish and corals were also excellent.

Yesterday we joined something that we had been really looking forward to. Camping overnight at Maya Bay, the world famous beach at Phi Phi Lei - a short boat ride from Phi Phi Don. During the day, Maya Bay is ridiculously crowded with heaps of speed boats, longtails, yachts, people. We arrived late arvo - a group of twenty or so - and the place was deserted and fantastic. We all slept on mats directly on the beach under the stars. I finally succumbed and joined everyone else drinking "buckets" (a bucket like a kid uses at the beach, with rum, coke and god knows what else. and several straws). We met a great Aussie couple about our age, from Brisbane. The kids had finally left home and they were travelling. Had done most of Oz, and were now doing Asia. Well, they were spirited drinkers, so to speak, and the four of us had a blast. (I really don't know how Ross is vertical today). We woke to dawn over the beach and it was sublime.

Now we are back on Phi Phi Don , awaiting the ferry to Phuket. We are going to stay briefly in Patong - to see for ourselves whether it is a gross as people say. We plan to have a quick look at the other beaches on Phuket tomorrow - Kata and Karon, which are supposed to be superior to Patong. Either way, I really doubt that anything will compare to West Railay or Phi Phi islands.

We leave Phuket tomorrow night (Monday Dec 28), and arrive back in Sydney 10am next day.
Ross and I have agreed that it has been the best trip we have ever done - better that anything I've done in Europe or North America.
Why ? It has something for everyone. Crazy nightlife/bars in Bangkok, great history and culture (Bangkok, Ayuttahya, Chiang Mai), super wildlife (the monkeys, birds, elephants, deer at the national parks, the amazing tigers in Kanchanaburi, the baby elephants at Elephant Nature Park), great natural beauty (Khao Sok and the lake trip, and the Southern islands), fantastic and cheap food (yum), and of course, the wonderful friendliness of the people. We interacted with many, many locals, and never had anything but great help and hospitality.
The weather was hot and sunny basically the whole time.
I don't know why I waited so long before coming here. Very highly recommended to everyone, including those with kids.
To Thailand, Korp Kun Krup.
Craig and Ross


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