Okay so to say my expectations for Koh Phi Phi were low was a serious understatement. I really couldn't bare to leave Koh Lanta and to say goodbye to all my friends. Everything I had heard about Phi Phi put me straight off the island. I know, I know, all those who have been will say it is beautiful and picturesque, some even dare say it is the prettiest of the Thai islands. I couldn't agree less. Those who have been to Koh Lanta will understand my shock horror at seeing how dirty, chock-full of tourists and how commercialised Phi Phi is in comparison, and from the moment I arrived on the island I was already counting down to the day I could leave.
Just to give you a taste of what my expectations were based on, a friend who I had met in Koh Lanta had just arrived from the island and she had told me about when she was swimming in the sea, felt something on her foot and picked it up thinking it was a stick - it crumbled in her hand, it was a giant lump of shit. This was definitely one of the worst stories I had heard about the island, but the others certainly didn't paint it in a good light. So you can understand why I was instantly put off, but for the Phi Phi lovers, give me the benefit of the doubt because despite this I still went to the island to form my own opinion.
I was staying at Rock Backpacking, which was great value for money at 300 baht a night for a dorm with fans. The toilets and showers were so clean and the guys who ran it were so helpful - all wifi on the island was abysmal though due to the sheer number of people there using it. I would recommend the hostel, although I was a little disappointed after being told it was the party hostel and finding everyone already asleep when I returned each night abut 3/4am. Wusses. There were nice people staying there, but a lot of people on holiday who were just there to get drunk and not to meet people. I prefer more backpacker central places where people actually want to get to know each other.
My first night there was spent watching the sunset from the viewpoint - so beautiful. I actually went back another night with a new friend and a guy proposed to his girlfriend while we were up there. So cute. I found the best little place for Pad Thai - seriously a godsend after finding nothing but kebab shops elsewhere! Went back loads for authentic Thai food, which was seriously lacking in other restaurants. Had a massage, manicure and pedicure, all for £10 - bargain! Then spent the rest of the night watching boxing, fire shows and exploring. My second day was spent trying to find a clean stretch of beach where the water wasn't covered in a layer of scum - finally found somewhere and sunbathed all day. Bumped into a couple I met on the ferry to Koh Lanta - they barely recognised me as I'm so black now. We spent the rest of the night eating food, going to the boxing - my friend actually competed for a bucket and ended up knocking the other guy out cold! Then we headed to the beach and made some other friends while watching the fire shows.
The next day, I had booked on to a boat trip around several beaches and islands, with plenty of opportunities for snorkelling for just 600 baht (£12) Met a guy called Tibby on the boat, he was also travelling solo from his home in Belgium before starting a new job in Melbourne. Bonding over the terrible food, we snorkelled and marvelled at all the amazing fish beneath the boat - such beautiful colours! The next stop was Bamboo Island which was so perfect and untouched - the sand was pure white and the waters so clear with reef right next to the beach so perfect for more snorkelling. We got a bit carried away spotting fish and ended up being the last ones back to the boat. After a couple more stops, we ended up at Monkey Beach, where monkeys just run wild on the beach and grab food from your hands - so cheeky! I brought along some bananas and fed them, the babies were so cute! They were all so tame, usually monkeys can be a little scary.
After this, it was the highlight of the trip, we'd been waiting all day for Maya Beach (where The Beach was filmed) and it didn't disappoint. As we pulled up in the long tail boat, it looked exactly like it does in the film, minus all those damn tourists! Such a beautiful place, you can see how it would inspire any director, set between these huge cliffs with pure white sand. I managed to find a nice empty stretch of beach to sit and chill out, then Tibby came and joined me and we took lots of photos before our time was up and we headed back to the boat. On the way back to Phi Phi, we stopped at sunset point to watch the bright orange sun burn it's way down into the waves, dead silence on the boat, everyone was speechless at the beauty of it all.
I have so many pictures and so much to tell you guys about Phi Phi that I've split this into two posts for you... The next one will have the pics from Maya Bay and everything else I got up to! I will also try and share the video of the boxing on my Facebook page as it takes ages to do it on here, so give the page a like and check it out!
For those who have been to Koh Phi Phi, what did you think? I'd love to know if anyone shared my experiences or if actually you loved the the island just as it is...