On our way to Phi Phi
I wake up at 7u30 am to have breakfast. Luckily, it is a lot better that the dinner I had last night, and the dining area is almost full this time. I've been looking forward to today for a very long time, as I wrote in my introduction. Phi Phi is what -years ago- made me decide to see the beautiful world that is outside of Belgium, and therefor a trip that I couldn't possibly put off any longer. Normally beaches and islands are not really what I travel the world for, but this is something else. It is almost like a child's dream to fulfill.
While awaiting the tour bus that is going to take me to the harbor, I try calling one of the tour reps of Phuket
to cancel my half board booking.
On our way to Phi Phi
I've been a bit disappointed about the hotel since last night, even if the service and the room is pretty nice. Some things aren't maintained that well and the diner just ruined my mood yesterday. I think it would make me feel better if I could get that of my bill. But no guide is available and soon the minibus arrives. But hey, I'm done with remorse about the wasted money on the food really. And I'm also done about maybe regretting a bit not to have chosen a fancy hotel in Patong
, because honestly, I can't really complain about the resort I'm staying at and things aren't actually bad at all. As you read, I'm in my most positive mood today, and it sure got a reason :)
I'm the first person to be picked up and the only one from Aquamarine Resort, so that leaves me alone with the driver.
On our way to Phi Phi
He's a very friendly guy but just like most other Thai guys I've been chatting with a bit predictable ("You so beautiful, how come you alone? You 22? Nooo! You 18!"). Still, he's nice, and after a while he starts talking at length about how it is to live in beautiful Thailand. I tell him it must be wonderful living in such nice surroundings, but he is doubtful. "I lived in Patong for 10 years" he says "but now I went to live in Kamala. Patong is not a nice place to live. Every night people shouting through microphones: "Boxing show, 9pm, Thai boxing". EVERY NIGHT!" I haven't been to Patong yet but I plan to do it on my last evening. Yet I can imagine that having your home in such a touristy place mustn't be easy. Anyway, as we drive past the coastline I can not help but think that this gorgeous water is just heavenly, with or without the tourists swimming in it.
At Monkey Beach
After picking up somewhat 6 other people in various hotels, all a lot fancier than mine, we arrive at the harbor and get to the speedboat. There we also meet our guide: a German talking Swiss guy who got married to a Thai lady, moved over here, and since got so tanned he looks more like an African than a European. He speaks a full range of languages going from German over French and English, to Thai, Italian and Spanish, and he's a bit of a macho, but ok. Soon we put the motors on and start sailing. At first we go slowly and I can't do anything but sit back and be amazed about the scenery. The color of the water here is like nothing I've ever seen before. You might not know it, but when you go swimming in the Belgian sea, when you put your hand 10 centimeters below the water level, you just can't see it anymore.
At Monkey Beach
The water is green/brown and not at all transparent. Here it is as blue as can be, almost artificial, and filled with "little" rocky islands rising up above the waves, having green trees on top of them, growing in the sun.
Later, when we get further on in open sea and all the motors get turned on, we make more speed and as the sea is a bit stormy today, the boat rocks an awful lot. Soon one of the passengers, a French girl, gets sick and all the rest of us just get soaking wet from the buckets of water splashing in. We literally bumb of the benches each time a wave passes. I shouldn't have bothered wearing clothes over my bikini, as it is no use. I don't usually get sick in boats or cars or whatever, and luckily I don't get sick here either. The ride basically reminds me of a theme park ride: the strange feeling in my belly, the splashing water and the rocking boat surrounded by exotic scenery could have been a Disneyland attraction.
Our boat at Monkey Beach
I enjoy it a lot, and things get even better when after about an hour we slow down and Phi Phi gets in sight. I cannot help myself to sit up, turn round on the bench and watch these rocky islands come closer.
Our first stop is Monkey Beach, a bay with beautiful views over the surrounding rocks. This is IT. I recognize it as soon as I get of the boat and turn round to face the sea and the mountains. It is almost a miracle, but this view is the view I saw years ago on the poster. It is the picture I've remembered for so long! The exact one. For a moment I can do nothing more that stare. The sand under my feet is as white as can be, the water is crystal clear, the sky cloudless and blue. The rocks in the distance curve like a half circle around the beach, and make a perfect background for the picturesque longtailboats floating around.
At Monkey Beach
There are other tourists here, but not as much as I expected. I thought Phi Phi was spoiled with people on the beaches and speedboats in the bays, but here it is actually quite peaceful. I sit down on the sand to just watch this beauty, while most other people go looking for monkeys. They waste their time. There are no monkeys to be seen. It is Saturday so they are probably all just enjoying the weekend. And man I do to! Some weight falls of my hart now I'm here. I finally made it! This beach, this place,... and from here on, the rest of the world. Y'all be aware, 'cause here I come :) Yet not right now, as for the moment I'm speechless.
After a while we sail on to Maya Bay. This is the place were the film "The Beach" was shot. I have seen the first half of the movie and I hated it so turned of the video.
At Monkey Beach
That is probably because I read the book first, which is truly superb. The film, however, is just a cheap Hollywood version that flattens out all the depths in the story, changes the personalities, twists the storyline to remove the philosophy behind it and replace it with sex and exaggeration. I would recommend everyone to read this great novel (written by Alex Garland) and skip this horrid movie. But whatever, this isn't really the point. The point is Maya Bay got famous after Leonardo and his film crew messed up the corrals here and shot their blockbuster. So it is supposed to be full of tourists, right? As we sail closer there are indeed lots of boats. But while we get nearer they all sail of and pass by us into the open sea. By the time I put feet on the sand, more than half of the visitors has gone and again, a calm comes over me.
At Monkey Beach
The island strikes me with its beauty. I am such a novice to exotic destinations, I know, but still. I hope I'll never forget how to appreciate a miracle as this. Because it is a miracle. Heaven on earth exists, and it is found in Thailand.
After dreaming away at The Beach, we get to a quite place beside the high cliffs of the island, to do some snorkeling. I have done so in Italy and Spain but hallelujah, this is something else. In no time, I feel like I'm swimming in an aquarium, surrounded by colorful fish. Some of them sting a bit when they touch my skin, but they don't leave bumps so I suppose it's no harm. There are long silver ones with reflecting blue stripes, nemo-like fish, just a bit bigger (I didn't get to see any small nemo's though), yellow striped ones with a pointy face, large groups of tiny guppies, and many more.
At Monkey Beach
They don't seem to be afraid at all, 'cause when I swim among them they don't scatter but just let me follow their course. I am ones again amazed. The see below me is cold and in the dept it gets darker, but here, at the water level, I can feel the sun at my back and the fish swimming next to me. As far as I can see, there are silhouettes of fished that get more and more colored in when I move closer. Life is so great. Did I say I don't like beaches and islands that much? I've been lying!
I stayed in the water until it was time to move on. Then we sail through numerous lagoons and bays, and past viking cave as well. After cruising this amazing island, we set of to the larger of the two islands: Phi Phi Don. Here we have a buffet, which is actually really nice.
I didn't expected this much choice of food when I booked a "lunch included tour". But this restaurant good and has a magnificent view over the sea and the beach. I leave early to stroll the coastline a bit, but soon place myself under a palm tree to just sit and enjoy. After that, we get back to Phuket but stop first at Koh Kai, were it is much more touristy than at the places we've been earlier, but equally nice. We first snorkel for about an hour in the open see in front of the island, than get of the boat to sunbath a bit before returning to Phuket. I haven't seen our guide during that whole time. When reaching Koh Kai he pointed out one of the cocktail bars as "his office" and disappeared. I think we've been lucky he isn't navigating the boat, or else our route back might have been even rockier than the first one.
By 6pm I reach the hotel, shower, discover that my back is pretty much burned, and get dressed for dinner. I'm not really looking forward to it but as I've payed for it, and I'm too tired to go to town after all the swimming and the strolling around, I'll just have it. I can choose from exact the same dishes as yesterday, so again pick the fish, and the musicians play exactly the same songs. But well, I can't say I don't enjoy it a little. Because of the lack of costumers I even have my own "private waiter", that just hangs around my table in case I'd want something. Normally that would piss me of tremendously, but after such a great they, I cannot but find it charming. As not many people use the restaurant at night, and I am alone, people recognize me easily I guess.
So ever since yesterday, whenever I pass a counter or a waitress, they ask me where I've been and how my day was. Next to me sits an Australian couple having the same course as I do, and as they notice I sit alone they start a conversation. Yet as they've just arrived an my plate is about empty, we don't chat long. I do regret it though, as they seem really nice. But I'm tired and don't stay in the restaurant long after finishing my desert. So we say goodbye and I return to my room, to have a good rest.
When returning to my corridor though, on one of the walls sits one of the sweeties that played orchestra in the trees last night. A huge beetle like thing, somewhat between a large thick fly and a grasshopper. It gives me chills, no kidding. And it takes me some 10 seconds to motivate myself to walk past it (more like run past it).
As I stand at my room door I turn round to watch the "monster" ones more. There is a little gecko sitting next to it, facing the beetle. But the gecko is not much bigger that the insect, and though it looks like thinking "mmmm, tasty big meal" there is no way it could catch such a large creature. To bad... If geckos lived in herds they could have surrounded the beetle and then kill it, but unfortunately they don't. I've been telling it: "catch the monster, catch it!" but it was no use. Luckily my room was free of horrors.
I've been using half the bottle of after sun I got on my burned skin. In fact, it is only my back that got burned from the snorkeling, but it got burned pretty bad. The after sun too has a story attached to it, of which I haven't written yet, but in fact it is not that interesting.
I didn't find good after sun in Belgium as it was still winter when I left, so I planned on buying it at the airport. But I had to rush to the gate in Brussels and there weren't many shops at Phuket, so I wasn't able to. Then I've been buying cocos creme, and three other products at shops in Thailand, but non of them worked. At one point I got skin irritation from the first product, but non of the others were able to cure the dryness. It's been a mess. It was just at our last evening in Chiang Mai
that I got my hands on some good old Nivea Aloe Vera, and that has done the trick. It's funny but most products sold at seven eleven are lotions that have bleachers in it, to whiten the skin.
Got to be careful with what to buy here!
Anyway. The bed feels lovely and I am incredibly tired. As soon as I close my eyes I drift away into dreams of pure white stands and fish in the see.
Pure Shores - All Saints