Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wetting the bed, happy endings, swimming monkeys and health and safety on 'The Beach'.

When we finally left Georgetown we grabbed a bit of breakfast at a really nice little café at the bus station that we found on our tour around town yesterday and then we jumped aboard the 401E bus that takes you to the airport. On the bus we met some fellow travellers who told us to beware of our luggage in Thailand and other good tips.

The airport is having a major facelift and so when we arrived and followed the sign to 'Departures', we found ourselves looking at a walkway leading to a big hole in the ground. We eventually found the right place though and after checking in and getting some food with the last of our Malaysian money, we were aboard our tiny little prop plane and ready for take off by 1.30pm. Suddenly, we headed back to the gate the plane had left a few minutes earlier -we didn’t know why until the pilot spoke on the loudspeaker and informed us that there was an issue with the 'legality' of our flight!? Whatever that meant, it didn’t stop us for long as we were soon airborne and less than 90 minutes later we landed in Phuket, Thailand.

First impressions were good as we got our visas quite easily and booked a taxi to the hotel – We were a bit too quick to be settled though, as once our taxi driver saw our taxi ticket, we stomped back to the booking desk and brought out one of the bosses who informed us that the taxi was in fact 650baht, not the 500baht that we had originally paid. It was the difference between £10 and £13, between the 4 of us, so we paid the extra and started our ride to the hotel. On the way we stopped at a random travel office, where our driver got out and a 'Lady boy', got in!!! We didn’t know quite what to do, until he asked us questions about where we were going and 'Did we have tickets?', we replied that we had tickets for everything and he eventually left. Short skirt, big hands and gruff voice, to be replaced once again by our definite male driver.

At the hotel, I was feeling a bit rough again, so while I rested, the rest of the gang went out to book tickets (we didn’t have them yet, we lied to the ladyboy) for the ferry tomorrow to Koh Phi Phi. On their return they gave me some more tablets, for my sinus headache and then they went out to dinner in a cool funky restaurant, where there were fish in a tv fishtank, while I stayed wrapped up in bed. I didn’t sleep much that night as I had cold sweats and at one point had to move to the other end of the bed, because I had sweated so much. I felt a little better in the morning though as we were up at 7am and by 7.30 were heading into town, via 2 hotels to pick up other passengers, on a minibus and then onto the Phi Phi ferry. Its a really busy ferry and we sat for a good while, until it actually left dock about 20 minutes late. It made it to Koh Phi Phi easily though, apart from a few people who had started to puke and other people around them had seen and began to puke themselves. It was a rush to get off the boat at the end, with everyone trying to get away from the smell. On the island, we grabbed a map and walked the half mile or so down the little streets. There are not many cars here and everything is moved in wheelbarrow type trolleys or on push-bikes. The funny thing is that most people with bikes don’t have bells, so ride around saying 'bang', 'ring', or just imitating the sound of a bell. It is quite funny!!

Some funny signs we noticed!!

The boat to Phi Phi


The hotel was actually quite a lot better than we could have hoped. We had booked last minute and were expecting a dump. But with chunky wooden furniture, good air con and hot water we were pleasantly surprised – once we found someone to actually let us in. During a quick wander around the island, we were caught in a downpour, which happens quite frequently this time of year, so I got my head down – I was still feeling quite unwell, while the other 3 mellowed out in a café for the afternoon. Joel had et strangest afternoon, as he went for a legitimate Thai massage and ended up being shown a whiteboard, with all sorts of 'added extras', which the 'masseuse', tried to coax him into getting. Lets just say that he wont be visiting that particular Thai massage parlour again!
The evening consisted of a good meal in town, with a few drinkies for Joel and Nicki in particular. Joel is a funny drunk ,so it was good to watch with a straight head as he made his quips the more and more he had. It really is cheap here too – a 1.5litre bucket of Margaritas for about 50p!

After a poor nights sleep – I sweated my arse off again – having to turn the quilt over to get some dry parts. We were up and out on a boat trip by 10am. It took us to some good snorkelling sites and 'The Beach'. I say 'The Beach', because it was 'The Beach', that was featured in the Leonardo Dicaprio movie 'The Beach'. In real life its called Maya Bay and is reached by the most ludicrous type of non health and safety you could imagine – Basically all the boats park up in a bay the other side of the island and all the tourists have to swim through pretty strong seas to a rope hanging down from some rocks. This rope leads to a framework of more ropes that you are supposed to climb up, to access a stairway and then you walk half a mile of so to reach Maya Bay. The problem is that the sea is about 4-5 feet deep and the bottom is covered by really sharp and knobbly rocks, which when you get caught in the waves, can do a lot of damage to feet and knees. A few people seemed to give up before trying the rope climb, but we all made it, with a couple of bruises and cuts and enjoyed our walk to 'The Beach', where the wind was about 50mph and et sand stung us as it blew (I bet it wasn’t like that for Leonardo!! It was well worth the effort though ans when you add in Monkey beach (Monkeys CAN swim!!) and the snorkelling we did on the way out, all in all the 4 hour boat trip was well worth the £5 or so it cost us.

Later on me and Nick took a 4 mile walk up to the viewpoint, from where you get spectacular views over the town and the two beautiful bays of Koh Phi Phi. This is really a stunning place, slightly spoilt by the mass of teenage backpackers, who come mainly for the boozing at night and a one day trip to 'The Beach'. It is well worth a visit though of you are ever around the area of south Thailand.

The boat captain - an old car engine and a steering wheel - all connected and worked by ropes!

Feeding the fish

On the boat

At 'The Beach'

Mental way to reach land!

Swimming monkey

Really!? At Monkey Beach?

Phi Phi viewpoint

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