Lena is back with a new post detailing her trip to Thailand. She has a unique and charming way of describing her experiences, and you will be able to read about them here each month as she continues on her 6-month solo journey through Asia.
Before ever setting foot on Phi Phi, I had seen hundreds of images and heard dozens of stories. The islands' trademark limestone cliffs emerging from the turquoise sea are among the most recognizable landscapes on the planet. Naturally, my first trip to the islands comes with built-in expectations.
I'm expecting unparalleled tropical paradise and touristic hell in equal proportions. Phi Phi doesn't fail to deliver: it's easy on the eyes, yet crawling with sun-burned Westerners. The bigger island, Don, is so small that there are no roads and no land transportation. But there are an abundance of guest houses, bars and clothing shops with surprisingly stylish outfits. Wi-fi is free in most of the restaurants and drinks are sold in the streets from buckets, island style. Every night the main beach turns into a big yet cozy dance floor. It's a party scene if I've ever seen one.
Yet Phi Phi by day is far more intoxicating – if, that is, you know where to go and didn't forget to rent snorkeling gear. All the cool spots, though closely located, are only reachable by water, so coming by one or the other form of sea-borne transport is essential for the success of your Phi Phi journey. My choice is by kayak and my first destination is Monkey Beach, 10 minutes south of the main bay.
It isn't all that unexpected that Monkey Beach is full of monkeys, but it is somewhat shocking how fearless and downright rude they are. Ok, maybe hanging a day’s supply of fruit on a tree branch wasn't the smartest of my ideas, but instead of quietly disappearing with the loot, the beast kept throwing peels and pits at me for a good half hour. The corn-on-the-cob that I bought to compensate for the loss was almost taken from me by force – I had to finish it waist-deep in the water. Hell, even my mobile phone got attacked as I was trying to take pictures. But save for dozens of annoying animals, Monkey Beach is absolutely enchanting. The rock formations at the southern edge are spectacular, the water is clear and the fish are many and colorful.
The next day I paddle to gorgeous, secluded Nui Bay, 30 minutes north. Safe to say, it's the most beautiful beach I have seen so far. Less than ten meters away from the beach is a fabulous snorkeling spot. With some fruit and lots of water, an interesting book and a snorkeling mask, it's the ultimate beach experience of my trip! By 1:00 p.m. longtail boats with day trippers and divers start to arrive, but the morning is idyllic in its serenity.
On the last day on Phi Phi I give in to the pressure of organized tourism and buy a group day trip around the islands. Though having no liberty to change route or stay longer at spots that are especially lovely is a little frustrating, the trip gives me a chance to see both Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Lay, as well as tiny Bamboo and Mosquito islands, from all sides – for cheap. In fact, I regret not doing this sooner: as our longtail boat speeds along the coast, I discover several little nooks that I would have loved to explore, if I had more time on my hands.