Erin, Danielle, and I had booked a boat tour of Phi Phi Leh the night before (somehow) and woke up early (somehow) to meet up for it. VJ separated from us for the morning and took a scuba excursion in and around the two islands. Our boat tour started like pretty much every other tour we had been on in Thailand, that is not knowing if we were on the right boat or when we were leaving or where we were going. Luckily this one turned out okay. After waiting at the dock for what seemed like 15 minutes longer than we should have (we are so impatient!) we kicked off the south beach of Phi Phi Don and headed across the water to its little sister.
The first stop was Pilah bay on the eastern coast. It was a still water bay with extremely clear green water surrounded by giant tree covered cliffs. The water was a good 15′ deep with a sandy bottom that you had no trouble seeing straight down into. I’ve swam in some pretty cool places, but I think this takes it. I think I posted a video on Facebook of the area, but if I didn’t I will after I post this thing…absolutely stunning. After a few minutes (not nearly long enough) we moved out to the entrance of the bay, back toward the open ocean and did some snorkeling…meh, there were no glowing planktons.
The tour guide had told us that we would be going to Maya bay as well on the tour, which is where The Beach was filmed. Being a fan of that movie this was kind of a cool prospect. She told us that the ocean on the west side of the island was too rough to take the long boats out to, so we would have to pull into a smaller bay, swim a bit, then climb some ropes over some rocks to get there. Perfect. I bought some fake white Havaianas for $2 that I wouldn’t mind losing so I could swim and still have shoes when we got out of the water. So we circled around Phi Phi Leh, and about the time where you might expect to be getting out (because we were pretty much on the west side of the island) our driver just kept on going. He straight up charged into the rough sea.
Oh and by the way thanks a bunch to the jerk store driving the speed boat 50 MPH past us in the 8′ chop. That was real special of you.
Anyway, a few bruised ass cheeks later (1 bruised ass cheek is roughly equal to 5 minutes) we pulled into another green water bay, drifter just off shore, dropped anchor, and swam up. There were probably 100 people (and 1000 pieces of trash) on the beach so we were keen to go inland, find the ropes, and get to Maya bay. We walked into the interior of the island and quickly came to a small pool of water with a metal landing on it, and on the other side were….ropes?….going down?
After figuring out that we had skipped the rope climbing adventure altogether and had walked the opposite way that we were expecting, we also put together that the crowded, trashed beach that we had landed on WAS Maya bay. We turned around and walked back and took in the site of what over tourism does. If you can look past the hordes of people, floating trash piles, and unmaintained facilities, you can almost make out a scene or two from the movie, but do yourself a favor, stick to The Movie.
Our final stop on the tour was at a tiny little beach on the inside of the southern bay of Phi Phi Don, called Monkey Beach. Here lives 40-50 monkeys (more likely they were planted here by locals so add value to their boat tours) that you can “play” with. We tossed them food and they caught it, scurrying away excitedly. You can tell the ones who are good catchers because they are freaking orca-fat monkeys. I definitely posted a video on Facebook of our tour guide feeding the monkeys so go check that out I guess if you want.
After the boat tour, Erin and I split up with VJ and Danielle and caught the 2:30 ferry to Phuket, an island province of Thailand on the western side of the country, about half way down it’s length. We were both pretty exhausted and slept most of the way there, but also they were playing Terminator 4 (or whatever) which was rad so I watched a bit #guiltypleasure. We caught a bus ride form the ferry station in Phuket Town across the peninsula to Hata Kata, a small crescent beach resort area almost on the southern tip. We checked into a boutique hotel called Sawasdee Village. The place was pretty gorgeous and we had a pool side room…a perfect place to recover from the go-go-go pace we had been on for the past 3 days. The rooms themselves were equally BA because they were wooden and made you feel like the captain of a ship which is, you guessed it, BA.
After a bit of R&R, the two of us set out to see the beach and acquired some deep fried shrimp along the way. It was still probably 10 minutes to the beach (and before we ate said shrimp) so we began taking bets on which parts of the fried shrimp remained on the shrimp when it was deep fried. Do you have a guess? Well if you answered everything then you are correct! The legs, the shell, the face, the everything were still pretty much in tact on these little guys….so we ate them anyway.
While we polished our snack, a wild(ish) dog came over and laid down on the beach next to us and we both instantly missed our little hell hound.
Kata beach itself was pretty gorgeous at this time of night with the sun just going down and it reminded me of a Hawaiian beach. Actual sand flanked on either side by rocky outcrops, with a few rocky island out in the water, hotels opposed the crashing water at the end of the sand…oh, and the waves!
We got cleaned up and had half a mind for a dinner that did not include fish, so we found an Italian restaurant started by an ex-pat that actually delivered the goods. We had to go through some lengths to pin point it because Google Maps was pretty worthless and there were no less than 5 different places with the same name…there really is no IP protection in Asia. The place was called Capannina and had some seriously good pizza and gnochi. Oh and also wine…oh man its been a while since we had wine and I don’t know if there is a more expensive liquid in all of SE Asia and I couldn’t tell you what kind of wine it was, but we drank it and were happy.
VJ and Danielle will meet back up with us tomorrow morning and we’ll hit Kata beach and maybe get into some shenanigans…
Pictures! Now in a smooth gallery format…