Here we was on Koh Phi Phi, the island with lots of sad history. They had a dreadful tsunami here on Boxing Day of 2004 that wiped out the whole island. Not sure if you remember the news that day but it felt so real being here. I had to get off the boat as quickly as possible, we had just docked and all I knew was I needed to get to a bathroom. The illness was still with me, I paid my 20baht island entry fee and ran on, dumping my bags and finding a toilet, the guys waited with my bag and formed a plan to get to the hostel we had booked. Turns out it was a mission away, we walked or should I say trekked to the (not so) 'golden bungalows', which turned out to be 20 minute walk from the port and up some serious amount of steep steps. When walking with 13kg on your bag in the 2pm sun, it makes you want to sit in the gutter. So painful and uncomfortable, not to mention pulling the tan from your shoulders. We finally made it to the double bed dorms, I shared with the comical Bryony, while Kate and Liv shared another room. Sadly I wasn't much company to Bry at this point because I was truly flaked out and my travel bug had properly set in. We all showered and tried to spruce up for the afternoon ahead but I just couldn't fathom the energy, I sat back and let them go into town in search of lunch and accommodation for tomorrow and the rest of our time on the island. I felt bad about it and felt lazy but I just really couldn't manage it. They came back 5 hours later but I had slept the whole time, I was sweating hot in a fanned out room and had drank lots of water with a wet towel on me. The guys headed out for dinner and I asked Liv to get me a 'meals on wheels' falafel on her way back, I woke up ate and went straight back into my coma.
I slept the whole night and felt a million times better in the morning. Figured I deserved a big breakfast to get my energy back up, had toast and fruit, muesli and yogurt. Andy, Bryony, Charlotte, Tash and I went to check out the beach. It was a strip of sand inclosed either side by the island so there was only a little gap where you could see out to sea. It made it feel quite secluded. We all went out for a little dip in the water, it wasn't the nicest water, it had a bit of moss floating in it, sort like a lake does but it was salt water (obviously) - bit odd. Liv joined us for a little sun bathe, although it wasn't the sunniest of days, grey clouds soon approached and the rain started, all running to the nearby sun umbrellas. We were soon kicked off by the angry Thai man because we hadn't paid. Stroppy little man. Left with no option but to go to a restaurant, we choose a bar that plays Friends, so got a fruit shake and watched a couple of episodes - got my fix again. Then headed back to the hostel, picked up our cameras and headed to the Phi Phi Island viewpoint, Bryony had already done it before and did warn us that it was a bit of a trek but we challenged it anyway. Around 300 very steep steps up to the first viewpoint where we had to pay the 20baht entrance fee then another long steep winding slop - not easy in the heat and wearing flip flops. It was truly worth it once we got to the top, views of the whole island showing it in all its glory. There was also photos of what the island looked like before the tsunami. Horrible to think of what happened here only 9 years ago, and amazing how quickly they have rebuilt the communities and tourism. That night first night out on the island, I didn't drink but still had a good night, went to a few bars and ended up on the beach, at a place called Ibiza bar, bought some shisha and waited for Slinkys to get busy, Slinkys was like the 'Cheeky Monkeys' (Byron Bay) of Koh Phi Phi. Big party on the beach, few bits of entertainment. There was a 3 metre+ tree trunk secured in the sand with a small square piece of wood on the top, the idea was that people had to monkey climb to the top but it seemed pointless to me, I would be to terrified to do it. Thailand is definitely not big on health and safety.
The next day we went to book onto an afternoon trip to Phi Phi Don which is the neighbouring Island to Koh Phi Phi and home to Maya Bay where the film 'The Beach' was filmed many moons ago. The trip included, snorkelling, a visit to Maya bay, Monkey Island and Viking cave, ending with a bbq party on a secluded beach and swimming with plankton. Some of us had also paid extra to do a cliff jump, very exciting. We left at around 2pm, all piled onto a Long tail Boat (a big canoe in my eyes), half way out and the waves started, I am holding Liv's hand in terror at this point. She tries to comfort me by saying they do this journey everyday but I couldn't contain my fear. We arrived into Maya bay, it was a gorgeous coved beach although the bad thing is it has been taken over by tourists, long tails and speed boats. It was expected but still a shame. When they filmed 'The Beach' here they super imposed an extra rock where the entrance was so that it was more private and in keeping with the story line. We anchored up and had a snorkel around, it took me a while to get in as per and didn't really see much when I did but it was good to do. Then onto the Maya Bay beach, we had an hour or so here to play. Not much sunbathing took place, we had another cheerleader (Andy) and gymnast (Bryony) in the group, as well as our very own cheer girl, a Ms Vidal. We tried to do various cheer stunts, preps and pyramids, got some good photos, then we went to on a little wonder around to explore, there wasn't really anywhere you could go but we did a loop round and chilled out waiting for the boat to call us back on. Another treacherous boat journey, I was physically hiding under my towel holding onto the seat and bar. Waves were smashing into the side of the boat constantly, so close to tipping, the driver had to keep turning off the engine and restarting it depending on the height of the waves. Finally we had arrived back on land where we was having the BBQ. it was a mini cove, the boat had to squeeze through a little crack in the rocks and we all jumped out and waded through the sea, holding up our bags. We had a grumble with the staff though because we hadn't done our cliff jump or gone to Viking cave or monkey island. Their excuse was the weather and that the monkeys were sleeping - ridiculous! We waited around for the BBQ, 90 minutes was a little excessive, especially when they had put the bar prices up because they knew you couldn't get drink anywhere else. Finally the waiting game was over and dinner was served, potato and extra salad for me, the vegetarian. They put on a fire show and painted everyone in uv paint, we all opted out because of how hard it is to get off your skin. The first boat was here to take the first group back to Koh Phi Phi, everyone was scrambling on, pushing and shoving, our group managed to all get but with a few scraps and bruises, we had to get on this one because it was our original boat and we had left our flip flops and some clothes on there. The sky was pitch black, all you could see was the faint outline of coastline lights in the distance, we set off sailing against the waves, it was the most frightening experience of my life, 20 times worse then earlier in the day. The boat was hugely overcrowded and was creaking every time we hit a wave. To top it off the driver couldn't control the boat because he was so drunk, Tal had to steer the boat as the driver controlled the propellor. We couldn't head straight to Phi Phi because of the direction of the waves so we were zig zagging our way back, which obviously took alot longer. Finally we were close, only 100m or so from the pier. Suddenly there was a ripple of screams coming from the front of the boat, we were heading towards a cluster of yachts, the driver didn't have time to turn the boat so we crashed into 4 anchored yachts. The Thai owners all came out shouting at our driver, a few of the guys on our boat helped to push our boat away from theirs (we were sure we were going to be pirated off at this point). Our propellor was caught on their anchor ropes so we had to untangle it before we could head off again. All completely shaken to death we just wanted to get off, Tal helped direct the boat to shore. We all got off with Kelly legs and marched straight back to the place we booked it and demanded money back from us not doing our jump and from the horrendous journey back we had. After giving them an ear full and arguing with a little Thai women for what felt like forever. They gave Tal 1200 baht back for the group to share but they also gave me 1200 baht back, obviously not realising we were part of the same group. The money didn't fully compensate what we'd been through but it helped. Once we had all got our breath back and the shakes had stopped we headed for another night at the beach party. The night nearly ended badly for me as the night guard at our hostel had a real bee in his bonnet about our group making noise and always seemed to pick on me, he threatened to kick me out several times but finally he piped down and let me go to bed. What kind of hostel has a lights out and silence only rule after 10pm!!
The next day was a really sad day for us, our big Koh Phangan group was splitting up!!! My dear Andy, Bryony, Charlotte and Tash were leaving us to head to Cambodia. We had a big goodbye lunch and waved them off to the pier. We made darling friends with them and we miss them so much already, yes there was tears shed at their departure. Many of the quotes will live on; 'no jab no jab'. That evening Kelly, Sean, CJ, the girls and I went to a rooftop bar to have a chilled night and watch a film - Argo? I'd never heard of it but was quite good in the end, quite intense but it was nice to just relax. The others went out but we couldn't hack it, we wanted an early nighter.
Waking up properly refreshed the next day we had a nice healthy breakfast; fruit and muesli then we headed to the beach for a full day of sun bathing! First time in a while that I felt comfortable just laying and reading. Kate and I had an early Thai Green curry for dinner because our fatty bellies couldn't hold out any longer. A little bit later Liv and everyone else went to an Indian restaurant for tea. Kate and I wasn't hungry so we decided to go on a wonder around the island to see what we could discover. The other side was the resort side so lots of big restaurants and sea food places (double the price of the backpacker side of the island), lots of shops, placing selling art and the usual hundreds of tattoo parlours. We went back to meet the guys at dinner then headed back to their hostel for some Changs on the balcony. Ending up in going out to Slinkys on the beach. Kelly suggested that Sean and I go on one of those revolving mechanical bull machines, clearly thinking it was a great idea at the time we each took our time to have a go. I lasted the longest time of 75 seconds but managed to burn my knees when I came off it so I now have a lovely red scabbed knee from the friction burn. I'm thinking of knighting myself the most injured traveller. The lovely Kelly took me back to her hostel and played nurses to clean it up, even got three plasters in the shape on an A - Aww that's Kels.
The next morning we had to move out of our dorm and into a little bungalow, wasn't very nice. The normal 3 'wood hard' mattresses on the floor. We headed to the main street, bumped into the gang and all went for brekkie, they decided to leave for Phuket today so we ate our grub and said we'll see them tomorrow in Phuket. We spent the day mooching around town, going to the beach and packing up the room ready to depart tomorrow. That evening we treated ourselves to the Indian restaurant that Liv gave a great review to the night before, fattened ourselves up and headed back to our bungalow to read our lonely planet books to plan the next part of our trip. Oh and plus I wanted to carrying on downloading series 3 of The Wire.
The next morning we packed up and waved goodbye to Koh Phi Phi. Our ferry to Phuket was alot better then expected, we managed to bag some seats on the top deck and sunbathed the whole way. What a good way to make the most of the 2 hour ferry!