Ko Phi Phi
We had one night to spend in Ko Phi Phi so we took the early boat. We were picked up from our hotel in Ao Nang beach by an air conditioned van and taken to the ferry in Krabi town (300Bht each) you can go from Ao Nang beach but that costs 400Bht each. When we arrived in Krabi we discovered that what we thought was the ferry terminal was not. The actual terminal for most of the boats is not in the central area of town. Our on-going destination was Ko Lanta and they tried to sell us tickets for that at the terminal insisting that it was only 300Bht here and it would be at least 470Bht on Ko Phi Phi. We had been in the country long enough at this point not to believe it and sure enough the tickets were still 300Bht on Ko Phi Phi.
Ko Phi Phi is a drop dead gorgeous tropical island. White sand, clear blue seas and white cliffs. The main Island is actually Ko Phi Phi Don which has an eastern section and a western section connected by a narrow strip of land with bays on each side. Almost all of the development on the Island is on this narrow strip in Ton Sai Village. The 2004 tsunami hit from both sides leaving 2000 people dead and the village gone. Before the tsunami Ko Phi Phi was becoming a victim of her own natural wonders as backpackers poured in from around the world and the area was developed with no infrastructure and no plan. Ton Sai was been largely rebuilt with a bit more of a plan but you still get the sense that the island at danger of being overdeveloped.
When you land in Ko Phi Phi you have to pay a 20Bht environmental fee. I really hope that is where the money actually goes. There is only one ferry dock on the Island and everything comes and goes from there. There are lines of guys with signs for each of the hotels. It appears that they meet every boat just in case and it’s a good thing they do.
Ton Sai is a pedestrian only village and it is a maze of tiny streets filled with bars, restaurants, gift shops, tattoo places, massage parlors and travel agents. Including the very famous Papaya where they have a refrigerator for the cats to sit in in the heat. Once you get past the core of the village cars and trucks are allowed. We never would have found our hotel without help! Our guy grabbed our bags and a hand cart. He lead us through the streets yelling “beep, beep” as he pushed the cart. We were met at the edge of the pedestrian zone by a pick-up truck which took us and the bags up the steep hill to the hotel. We stayed at Ingphu Viewpoint which had a small pool and restaurant area. The actual rooms were cabin style high up on the hill. There was a little cog conveyer for getting your bags up and down to the rooms. The hotel is on the edge of the town reservoir and our cabin was way up in the trees. There were signs warning not to leave anything out on the balcony because the moneys would take it but we did not get to see any moneys. There was something falling out of the trees onto the roof all night and we had a very large praying mantis in the room.
Ko Phi Phi has a smaller sister island Ho Phi Phi Leh which is protected as a national park. We took an afternoon longboat tour for 400Bht each plus 400Bht to get into the park. The trip started with a stop at a monkey beach where we watched stupid tourists put monkeys on their heads. It really makes you wonder, monkeys are wild animals that bite and carry rabies. Do they put racoons on their heads at home?
We swam in the bay where The Beach was filmed (we watched the movie when we were got home the swim was better) and snorkelled. We stopped to the see the large caves where the sea swifts nest. Their nests are very valuable and are harvested and sold to Chinese restaurants all over the world to make birds nest soup. We also stopped at Ao Maya beach which has crystal clear water and a white sand beach. We had to walk in from the boat over coral and we had no shoes. Harold’s feet were pretty cut up. We were left on the beach for a couple of hours so we explored and found a very small snack bar selling beer for 100Bht.
On our return we took a quick shower and checked out Ao Loh Dalium which is the beach on the opposite side of town from the ferry dock. It’s also party central. There is a whole row of bars with loud electronic music, big fire shows and lots of drinking. As you enter the beach area there is a sign saying no outside drinks right beside the 7/11 which was selling beer and opening them for you. Ko Phi Phi is also full of buckets. You buy a bucket which comes with a bottle of hard liquor which you drink out of the bucket. We did not buy any and we heard a couple of stories indicating that what was in the bottles was not always the real thing some of it was local moonshine. The party runs every night until 2am when the music stops. We left our ugly beach towel out overnight but to our dismay it was not stolen by any monkeys.
In the morning we walked to Ao Loh Moodi by walking over the middle of the island and past the town dump. It is easy to see why keeping the island clean is a challenge with so many people and so little island. Ao Loh Moodi is a beautiful and very quiet beach. We walked back to Hat Yao (Long beach) which has a number of higher end hotels on it. The snorkeling from shore at the south end was great and we are told you can see sharks there in the mornings.
We were spending the night in Ko Lanta so we took the 3:30 ferry. There was some confusion when they wanted us to board at 2:30 and the boat did not actually leave until 4:30 by which time we were literally stuck to the seats. I can see why the cats like the refrigerator.