Ko Phi Phi – “The Beach”

RTW: 2007-2008, Southeast Asia, Thailand — By on July 6, 2008 12:33 AM

Tourism has increased dramatically on Phi Phi island since Ko Phi Phi Leh was the backdrop for the 2000 movie “The Beach”, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Today no one inhabits the island of Ko Phi Phi Leh but residents and tourists reside on the very close island of Ko Phi Phi Dom.

Ko Phi Phi was hit particularly hard by the tsunami which struck twelve countries on December 26, 2004. Virtually every standing structure was destroyed, although must has now been rebuilt. As I gazed out to the sea, I tried to imagine what it would have been like to see an enourmous wall of water headed toward you, and I just can’t imagine it…it seems so surreal to me. I cannot even begin to understand how terrifying that day must have been for everyone affected.

Ko Phi Phi Leh

Nicole and I took a boat from Phuket to Phi Phi Dom island. As we approached the island, we were struck by the large limestone rocks jutting out of the sea. The island is absolutely gorgeous and much more laid back than Phuket. We knew immediately that we would enjoy our time here and we did!

We checked into our bungalow at Phi Phi Casita and headed straight for the beach. We ran into our new Dutch friends who invited us out to dinner with a bunch of other Dutch boys and a Canadian couple. We had a huge feast at a hole in the wall place that one of the guys had found. We filled our bowls with raw meat and fish and they grilled everything on a small cart on the side of the road. The food was really really good and we ate a ton for next to nothing. After dinner, we headed to the beach and chilled on mats overlooking the ocean and a fire show.

The following morning we headed out on a long tail boat for an all day tour of the surrounding islands and snorkeling. As I climbed into the wooden long tail boat, I kicked a plank of wood loose from the bottom of the boat. Nicole and I began to wonder what we had gotten ourselves into. The day turned out to be quite the “authentic” experience. The weather was rainy and the ocean was rough. Our boat driver began to race with the long tail boat beside us. We watched in shock as the front end of the other boat sprung up out of the water sending 2 elderly people air born and they crashed into the side of the boat. Their boat stopped immediately to keep from tipping over and to check on the clearly injured passengers! Our boat held on tight and most people wore their goggles as we were getting pounded by water! We stopped at Monkey Beach, where I saw the cutest mama monkey carrying her tiny baby! There were about twenty monkeys swinging from the trees, so close you could feed them.

We went snorkeling off the side of the boat and I saw a fishes that I have never seen before. Next our boat took us to Bamboo Island where we stopped for lunch. We spent the afternoon on the island of Ko Phi Phi Leh. Phi Phi Leh houses the ‘Viking Cave’, from which there is a thriving bird’s nest soup industry. The most visited area of the island is Maya Beach, made famous by the movie “The Beach”. The tide was low so we were told that the only way to see get to Maya beach was to swim and climb over a bunch of rocks, climb through a tunnel, and then walk a short distance to the other side. It was very cool to walk through the jungle and emerge onto “The Beach”.

When heading back to the boat, I was having a hard time climbing over the rocks. I sat down on a rock and immediately felt a stinging pain in my back left thigh feeling like hundreds of needles pricking me! I turned around to see what had stung me and I saw a purple flower like plant attached to the rock. I believe it was a sea anemone that stung me. My leg was burning and stinging and began to turn bright red and swell up with many little bumps. Everyone on the boat were concerned about me and the no one had any idea how to help me except to suggest that someone pee on me. We figured a guy should do it since they have better aim, but no one stepped up to the plate! Instead, the boat driver gave me tiger balm which didn’t seem to help much. I went to a pharmacy and was given a cream, but my leg hurt for the next 24 hours.

We went to dinner at Papaya, which turned out to be one of the best Thai restaurants I have been to so far! Several people had recommended the restaurant to us and warned us to share a plate because the portions were so large, and they were right! The restaurant is also known for the large cat that sleeps inside the drink refrigerator! The cat recently had kittens which everyone in the restaurant played with. My mom would have HATED this place! I grew up in a house where animals were not allowed indoors, much less in the fridge or on the dinner table! We met several more cool people at dinner and also ran into people we have met recently. The island is very small and everyone seems to be on the same route, so we often see familiar faces!

The weather was perfect the next day, so Nicole and I decided to go out on a boat again in hopes of better snorkeling and photos. We opted for a large boat this time instead of another long tail boat and the ride was much more comfortable! We were taken to many of the same areas including the place where I was stung! I found myself having to climb over the same rocks but this time our guide warned us not to touch or sit on the rocks! I made it to the beach without getting stung again!

We had dinner on the boat as we watched the sunset over the islands and the water. It was so so pretty!

To see more photos of Ko Phi Phi CLICK HERE!

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