We said goodbye to Kim this morning and got picked up but a taxi to be taken to the pier and our ferry to Koh Phi Phi (pronounced pee pee not fee fee). The boat trip took longer than expected because we initially headed to the beautiful town of Railay Bay which was where we were initially told to stay, only being a dreamlike paradise location, it's a little bit outside of our budget!
As we floated in the perfect waters just off the shore waiting for another boat to arrive with more passengers we could certainly see why it's the place everyone recommends. It truly is a stunning location and would make a perfect, relaxing beach holiday for anyone who's interested.
We hung around for a bit on the top deck with the camera but when we realised the trip was going to take longer than planned we headed down to find some seats for an uncomfortable but much needed doze.
We awoke just before arriving at our destination so clambered back up to the top deck for a good view. Wow, what a beautiful place!
Sarah took our small rucksacks while I retrieved our main backpacks from the huge pile dumped unceremoniously on the top deck and fought my way through the crowds to catch up. It was utter mayhem!
Once reunited we then discovered a bottle neck of people at the end of the pier before the beach and realised this is because there is a charge of 20baht per person for entry. (About 40p each which is supposed to be used for cleaning the island).
We had booked a hostel which wasn't far from the pier so first stop was to get rid of our bags and to change into some fresh clothes as we were feeling a bit hot and sweaty.
We decided to go for a walk and found out the island isn't really all that big. At least, the part that's accessible isn't. There are large areas that you can't get to the but main area is on a completely flat strip of land running between 2 high peaks with a beach on either side and this is where you can find all the accommodation, bars, shops and dive shops. There are only a couple of tiny roads and literally only a handful of vehicles, mainly scooters. The main area itself is completely pedestrian.
We grabbed some food and decided to wonder up to one of the viewpoints armed with a typical Thai map (poor).
Somehow we found a back way up which took us the scenic route but this was great because we later found out the usual route includes a 20baht per person entry fee!
We walked uphill for ages thinking that we must have gone wrong because it was taking so long. We saw one other person, a friendly German guy who passed us on the way up while we were having a breather but he confirmed that he was also looking for the viewpoint. We had already passed a sign saying it was 4km but he said he didn't believe it. Turns out he was wrong!
After the road ended to followed a really bumpy path that went from, big enough for a 4x4, to a tiny single track, and kept on going... It was good and much needed exercise though so we weren't complaining, too much!
There were 3 lookouts in the end although we only actually found 2 of them because the 3rd was an additional 2km walk. Just as we were arriving at the first one the German guy was heading back the other way and said it was definitely worth the walk. It turned out there were a few people there already who were waiting for the sun to set, although it was at least an hour before sunset and you can't take drinks up there for religious reasons so these people were just relaxing on the rocks and taking in the view. We couldn't believe there were so many people around when we had only seen 1 person on the way up.
After catching our breath we headed on to the second viewpoint which was a slightly more disappointing version of the first one so we gave up and headed back to where we were before. When we got back it was even busier and we couldn't find a clear place to stand and take photo's that weren't full of strangers but as we'd gone to the supreme effort of walking up here we hung around anyway.
There were clouds on the horizon that were clearly going to distort and possibly cover the sun when it got really low and although we know this often looks better, we knew these clouds would be too dense so we decided to take the best pictures we could and then head back before the rest of the crowds.
It was quite cool by this time and there was a really nice festival type atmosphere up there with lots of people relaxing and enjoying the view. There were 3 little black kittens noisily disturbing the peace and getting under peoples feet which was quite entertaining.
When we left we noticed that people seemed to be coming up from a different direction, almost straight down, so Sarah headed off in that direction to find out if it was a quicker route. It turns out that it was, much quicker. However, there were literally hundreds of steep steps that we were glad we hadn't walked up, plus the entry fee, so we were glad of our earlier exercise.
Whilst we were walking we had been discussing what to do and decided that we wanted to have another go at some more snorkelling so once back in the main village we headed off to find a good trip. It didn't take long and after a bit of haggling we booked a full day tour for the next morning. Off to bed now as it looks like we have an early start ahead!
The snorkelling tour was great. There were about 20 people on the boat and once we had all been collected from our various hostels we were taken to a beachside resort for a buffet breakfast. Sarah and I had already eaten as we weren't expecting the food to be all that good for the money but it was fine so I found room for a bit more.
Like our earlier tour on Koh Tao this one did a tour of the island stopping of at several destinations. We had purchased a special dry bad for our camera so we could hopefully take some underwater pictures, Sarah was snapping away!
One of the stops was at a beach known locally as Monkey Island where you could feed the local monkeys. No that they needed feeding they were so fat! One of the monkeys sneaked up behind a guy and nicked his bag of fruit which we found hilarious. He squealed like a girl! You have to be careful though because these monkeys are so greedy they can get quite aggressive. We didn't feed them!
Our final stop was Maya Bay which is famous for being a film location for The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio. Maya Bay is actually on the smaller neighbouring island of Koh Phi Phi Ley which is uninhabited although there is a semi permanent campsite that you can stay at for some ludicrous amount of money if you want to.
The island is very beautiful but unfortunately we arrived at the bay when the tide was out meaning the main view was a little disappointing. Both islands were severely damaged by the Boxing Day tsunami in 2006 and all the coral reef in this little bay was destroyed leaving it all exposed and dead when the tide goes out. Where there was water, the bay was filled with boats meaning the iconic photograph you normally see is no longer possible even at high tide.
That night we grabbed some food in a nearby bar but it seemed like all the travellers here were very cliquey and stuck to their own groups so there was no chance to make new friends and we headed back to do a bit of blogging.
The next day we moved hostels to one called The White. It certainly was all white, the floors, doors, walls, bed, everything! It was much nicer for the same money so we booked for 2 more nights and headed to the beach.
There were ghost crabs everywhere. If you stayed still you would see them all come out of their holes in the sand and scuttling off sideways doing whatever it is they do (not eating apparently). The second you so much as flinched they would all scuttle back into their holes and wait for you to sit still again. Cheap entertainment!
Later that night we headed to a bar on the beach as it was full moon and we expected a big party but this never really happened. However, we watched a fire show on the beach which was good fun and very impressive.
Our final day and we both woke up late, but it was nice, we much have needed the sleep. It's such a hard life being a traveller!
We relaxed on the beach again for a few hours and then booked our trip back to Bangkok. We are skipping Phuket as everyone we have spoken to say's it's just a party town unless you can afford to go 5 star and it's not recommended for anyone over the age of 18! We also need to get to Cambodia in the next few days as our 30 day visa's are due to run out and it's Songkran, the Thai New Year festival which we need to avoid if we don't want hold up's leaving the country in time.
Our trip back to Bangkok is over night and involves an afternoon ferry back to the mainland and an overnight bus back to Khao San Road. We tried to get a train but they are all fully booked about 10 days in advance.
We had another lay in on our last morning and packed our bags before leaving them in reception and checking out. We spent our final few hours in this island paradise on the beach.
At 4pm we hopped on the ferry and it was time to say goodbye to island life and head back to the hustle and bustle of the city.
At around 11pm the bus decided to break down and we were stuck on the side of a highway for well over an hour. Well, in truth the bus was still running, it was the air con that no longer worked and we were melting as the temperature gage on board was reading nearly 30 degrees. When the driver finally admitted it wasn't going to work he found a local garage so he could wake up the owner and we all climbed off as it was cooler in the night air. It was a fun experience though and by around 12.30am it was all fixed and we climbed back on and finally managed to get some sleep.
We didn't have to worry about the delay either as our bus still managed to arrive at Khao San Road for 6am the following morning. We managed to get an early check in at our next hotel and went to get some sleep!