What I knew about Koh Phi Phi before going:
1. Party island
2. No cars
3. Maya Bay (where ‘The Beach’ was filmed)
What I know now:
1. Partying on the beach with buckets of alcohol and fire throwers as entertainment
2. No cars except the Policeman’s scooter and a mini pickup truck to transport bricks
3. Maya Bay’s gorgeous tropical water and soft sand
4. Locals cycle everywhere dodging each other and you by the hair on your leg with grace
5. Your rucksack can be transported from one side to the other via large trolley
6. Small pedestrian lanes lined with shops and filled with people are the main streets
7. Gorgeous viewpoint to watch sunset from
8. Great place to bump into friends from home
9. Nice Thai food, and cheese, ham and tomato pancakes
10. Apparently great place to dive even though it’s more expensive than Koh Tao
11. Knowing the tides is quite important so that you don’t get to the beach when the tide is fully out and rocks are all you can see
Koh Phi Phi was a pleasant surprise. We had been told about the islands being party-party but found that you can find what you’re looking for almost everywhere. The thing that struck me the most was that the narrow pedestrian streets with shops, restaurants, and hostels just never ended. That was Tonsai village and nothing else. So when we paid our twenty baht (tourists pay this to help keep the island clean), avoided the local hagglers and the girls followed my stubborn ass beyond the first hostel offers, we found ourself in a private room on the other side of the town close to the beach and the viewpoint.
On our first night we partied like everyone does with some buckets of alcohol, shisa, fire throwers, and dancing like it was nobodies business on the beach.
Maya Bay is an absolutely gorgeous beach. We hired a private long tail boat to bring us there for a few hours and at first the crowds I saw on the tiny beach were a bit off putting but we got a nice bit of sunbathing space and the water was like a tropical swimming pool — crystal clear and just the right shade of turquoise. My favourite beach. We had haggled with our driver to stay longer but soon realised the tide going out and rocks showing so we headed off and gave him a nice tip for staying longer.
They say that sickness reaches all backpackers at some point and this is where it found the two girls. Aisling was up one night with illness and Orna didn’t feel right the next morning. Nonetheless they both set off for a day of diving (with me tagging along as a snorkler). Aisling’s first attempt didn’t get her hooked just yet but Orna finally ignited her passion for it after learning in Ireland. Somehow she managed to feel fine under water but projectile vomited off the side of the boat in between dives.
A night of nausea, sleeping and sipping water through straws ensued for them. After making sure they were well looked after I headed off to meet my Irish friend Ailise, her boyfriend Mij and their friend Richie, who, luckily for me were on the island at the same time. A gorgeous Thai dinner was followed by catch up chats and more beach partying.
The walk up to the viewpoint is not for the faint hearted. The steps are never ending but it was well worth it. The sun set behind part of the island and both sides of Tonsai village could be seen from the height. One guy posed in a handstand over a steep edge to get a photo. As Orna said ‘Some people will do anything for a good photo.’
Fire throwers on Koh Phi Phi, Thailand: http://youtu.be/U35QzVLVhxM