Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ko Phi Phi

We checked out of our respective rooms the next day and took a short bus ride to the ferry terminal. The boat was packed full of college-aged backpackers, mostly from Sweden it seemed. After an hour and a half, we pulled into Ton Sai, the small port on Ko Phi Phi. The five of us had already decided that we didn’t want to stay in town because of the loud, constant party atmosphere. Instead we opted to take a longtail boat around the island to Rantee Beach where we had heard there was a beautiful private beach, secluded from all of the noise (and drunken mayhem) of town. We negotiated the taxi fee and in 20 minutes were stepping foot onto the most beautiful private beach I could have asked for.

Over the next 8 days or so (I was on Thai-time… that is how the locals operate… time ceases to really matter and you loose track of it almost entirely. Things cannot be rushed in Thailand, because you are operating on their time schedule. I think this is true mostly on the islands) I spent my days lounging on the beach, trying to decide which of the two restaurants to eat my meals in. I was faced with tough decisions such as, “Should I go snorkeling in the crystal clear waters, have a tropical fruity drunk under that palm tree over there, or read a book in the hammock on my beachfront cabin?” Really, a tough life.

The second day we were there, Andrew and I decided to make the hike into town. An alternative to the longtail boat, there was a trail that went up and over the ridge separating the two sides of the island. I use the word “trail” loosely. Yes, it was a trail that cut through dense jungle, but at times it was more like a vertical wall. Using your hands to hold onto trees was common and at times we had to mark our trail because we weren’t sure which was it went. I saw plenty of reptiles including skinks (like I used to have in college) and we could hear monkeys around us, but could not see them. At the top of the ridge there is a trail that goes to a lookout. It was hard work getting there, but the view from the top was incredible. I’ve never been on an island that you could see all sides of before,… it was spectacular. After resting at the top for a while, I was down the mountain to town.

The town of Ton Sai was awful. Suddenly we were not on a remote, tropical paradise, but in the middle of a giant fraternity party. Yes, I know that may sound strange coming from me… and goodness knows I’ve done my fair share of partying, but I did not come to this tropical paradise to revert back to college and drink my face off. Well, apparently everyone else in the world did. There were bars everywhere, advertising fire dancing, Thai boxing, etc. The shear number of backpackers was daunting, especially when there were only about 10 people on our whole side of the island. Don’t get me wrong…. We decided it would be a blast to come into town for one night, but it certainly wouldn’t have been a nice place to stay. The rhythmic thumping of the disco beats alone would keep you awake all night long. Although, I guess that is the point…

Andrew and I took advantage of the shopping in town and picked up some necessities (sunscreen, etc). When you have the complexion of a pair of Hanes cotton briefs like I do, it is amazing how much sunscreen you go through. I also found a dive shop that could do my PADI Open Water scuba diving course, although it meant that I would have to be in town every morning by 8am. Since the boats weren’t running at that time, it meant a tough hike bright and early every morning. Still, I wanted to learn how to scuba and I figured that one of the best dive locations in the world might be a good place to start, so I signed up and gave them my deposit money.

With the exception of the scuba diving (and one night out which I’ll tell you about later) the rest of my time on Ko Phi Phi was pretty uneventful. Each morning I would wake up, have my banana pancakes at one of the beach restaurants, hike into town, and spend the first half of the day diving. Afterwards, I would check my email somewhere, take a boat back to our private beach and my afternoons were spent relaxing in paradise. I couldn’t imagine a better place to relax than Rantee Beach and I fully intend to go back someday.

In the middle of the week Sarah and Greg moved over to the town because there was some cheaper accommodation there. I never really got to say bye to them. When it finally came time for Andrew and Jenn to leave, I was really sad because I had become quite good friends with them. The three of us spent most of our time together and I really enjoyed their company. They invited me to visit them in Vancouver one day and I am sure I will. So, my last few days on the island were spent by myself.