A short flight later from Kuala Lumpur, we landed in Phuket, Thailand. We knew we didn't want to stay in Phuket so arranged to go straight to the Phi Phi islands, which are meant to be beautiful, one of which was the location for the film "The Beach" with Leonardo DiCaprio. So we got to the ferry terminal, tickets in hand and found that we would have a bit of a wait, in total about four hours until our ferry came along. There isn't much to do at Thai ferry terminals, we had hoped there would be bit of beach we could make use of, but of course there wasn't so we read our books and indulged in a bit of people watching.
It was a very sweaty boat journey lasting two hours, no air-con and being very hot on a boat surrounded by the sea making you want to dive right in to try to cool down. We didn't, but we were very tempted. In true Thai fashion there was ordered chaos when it came to disembarking but we got off at the correct place and walked along the pontoon to run the gauntlet of people trying to convince you to go to their hotel.
We had already booked our accommodation on the island and had a sketchy map so kind of knew where we were going. We knew we had to walk nearly to the other side of the island and then back on ourselves and through the narrow and windy lanes to find the hostel. Hot, sweaty and tired we found it without much stress and were shown to our room where we were very relieved to be able to switch on the air con and have a shower!
We met up with our friends we had meet on the Gilli Islands, Patrick and Kelly, a few nights into our stay and also saw our friend Micky (of Micky and Ricky from Halong Bay). We went out for a few meals and drinks with Patrick and Kelly whilst we were on Phi Phi and had plenty to talk about and danced our socks off at the beach side parties, our favourite being Slinky - not that you need socks in Thailand of course - and I (Louise) even lost my flip flops on the beach! All good fun! They have amazing fire shows all along the beach at night on Phi Phi, with each bar competing for the best!
During our time on the island we booked a day trip which took us around both the islands which make up Phi Phi, as well as Bamboo Island and Maya Beach which is where the Leonardo DiCaprio film was filmed! The trip didn't disappoint. At Bamboo Island, we literally jumped off the back of the boat into the sea and snorkelled our way to shore to an absolutely picturesque island where we sat on the beach and took in the surroundings! There were lots of stops for snorkelling with some amazingly beautiful fish as well as the spectacular scenery, topped off with a gorgeous sunset. Just what you imagine when you think of Thai beaches, large limestone rocks covered in green, with crystal blue waters! Magic!
After a few days on Phi Phi, another boat trip took us to our second island on the Andaman Sea, Koh Lanta. We had scheduled a two day stop in Lanta, which literally would be for some much needed rest and relaxation. Again we had to run the gauntlet to find accommodation but we found somewhere in our price range on the beach. For the next two days we didn't move much from the sun loungers or the actual resort, only to walk 10 yards up the beach for a spot of lunch in another beach resort - tough life eh!?
Our third boat trip took us to an island could Railay (pronounced Riley). A couple we had met on our jungle trek in Chang Mai, Mel and Tom had recommended going to this particular island, saying it was beautiful and the landscape was amazing. There was no pontoon on this island, so we got off the ferry, then into a long tail boat and then waded to the shore.
On the ferry on the way over we spoke to a welsh couple, and the chap very kindly helped us with our bags. We then stopped to get a drink with them before deciding to stick together so we would have more bargaining power to get better room rates. We knew we had to head to the east coast of the island which was the cheaper side, but as the boat dropped us off on the west coast, we saw all the amazing hotels where all the rich non backpackers were staying, just like getting onto a plane when they make you walk through 1st and business class to get to the economy seats "look at what you could have won!". After a beverage, we put on our backpacks and trudged through the jungle even stopping to look at some monkeys (which Hannah and I were a very blasé about due to the number of monkeys we had seen in Cambodia!). It's only a 5-10 minute walk from west to east side and we soon found a hotel where the four of us negotiated reasonable rates and went to our separate "chalets". Hannah and I then went out for some dinner and went over to the west side to see all the lovely hotels which we couldn't afford, but could afford to eat in! We saw the most amazing sunset, which seemed to last for ages whilst eating our dinner - very romantic!
Our second day on the island brought a sunny day and so we went south to explore another beach. Again very beautiful with sea water the temperature of bath water and much needed after a few hours of basking in the sun. We swam/waded over to another island avoiding the long tail boats which are like taxis, restaurants and entertainment centres. The boats were moored on the edge of the beaches selling everything from drinks, fruit, ice creams to hot corn on the cob and even pad Thai!
The rest of our time on Railay was met with rain, and when it rains in Asia it RAINS big time. This also coincided with Hannah suffering with a fever, so we spent time in the room, reading and resting. And I took myself out and found a bar which was showing English movies - and watched the classic Robin Hood Prince of Thieves!
The island is beautiful and again it is exactly what you expect to see in Thailand. You can see why it is so popular with rock climbers with the huge touring rock formations jutting out over the sea. We would both recommend it and go back there for a restful holiday and maybe even to try the rock climbing that is available on the island.