Edit Blog Post
Published: June 25th 2017
Geo: 7.7455, 98.7754
The transportation system here, like most everything you buy, is heavily redundant. Every street will have at least 2 places that will get you a ride to any major destination within 1000km. In the end, they all call the same guy driving a van to come pick you up. I don't particularly like the middleman approach, but when you're dealing with only a few dollars in the first place, it isn't that big of a deal.
Today we traveled by van from the border town of Hat Yai to the west coast town of Krabi. Total cost, about $6 each. The road was a bit more windy as we crossed over to the west coast. Our driver seemed relatively safe compared to some of the other drivers, but he still passed people on semi-blind curves. We only almost got hit once, but I suppose these guys know what they are doing.
He dropped us off at another "go anyplace" shop in Krabi where we promptly bought a ride on a ferry crossing over to Phi Phi Island. Phi Phi is about halfway between Krabi and Phuket. The boat was air conditioned and a great nap after the cramped van. Most
of the way there we saw some really great landscape of the nearby islands and forests. I know the "James Bond" rock island is in this area, but I'm not sure which island is closest to it.
Upon arrival at Phi Phi, the effects of the 2004 Tsunami were evident. Large sections of a concrete barrier were completely leveled. Only one pier had been rebuilt so far so every boat has to dock to it. If there's no space, the boats dock to each other (like ours) and we have to walk across boats. The entire beachfront has been rebuilt from scratch. Every building and hotel is brand new so the facilities are generally acceptable. As soon as you get off the boat you're accosted by dozens of people on the street trying to direct you to a hotel so they get their commission. I wandered around and found a place more or less equivalent to a 2 bed western hotel room for $13, but my companions fell for some $17 a night "bungalow" which is more or less a hotel room but slightly larger and without A/C.
The island's developed area is very small. It's more or less a
couple street blocks crammed full of vendors. It's really everything I hoped it wouldn't be. There are exactly 4 types of vendors:
* Diving Shop
* Massage Shop
* Snack/Drink shop
* Internet Cafe / Travel vendor
The sad thing is, they are all exactly the same. I don't mean to say close to the same, but exactly the same. If it was America, I would know that some parent company owned the entire island. In fact, all of the shops are run by locals and they agree to fix the prices ahead of time. That combined with the fact that they get the same supply lines coming from the mainland equals too much of the same. Every Internet cafe is 2 baht per minute, every gatorade is 30 baht. Even the diving shops run by expats fix their prices.
We had a good Thai dinner (with Lemonade I might add, yay) at some place on the rear beach. I think the waiter had been trained to serve western customers because he sat down at our table to take our order. Not only that but he divided up the checks without even being asked to. As always in Asia, the food is served to you
as it comes, not all at once. I'm sure my dad would cringe every time, but you get used to it.
I hope to add some more photographs tomorrow. It was dark by the time I had any opportunity. Other than a small desk with a lone police officer, I can find nothing on the island that looks official. I did find a guy at a dive shop that told me of a trail up to a viewing point that I could take tomorrow. I look forward to checking it out and hopefully finding out where the local population lives on the island. My companions have diving certificates and plan to try out the waters tomorrow.
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