Phi Phi is #1

Koh Phi Phi Travel Blog

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work as usual, with matilda and lena
Phi Phi, I should clarify, is pronounced "Pee Pee." (Yes, it's true. Go ahead and giggle like a schoolboy.) Which has lead me to new ideas for a proposed campaign slogan. I'm thinking, "Phi Phi: A wee little island." Or perhaps, "Phi Phi is #1." I enjoy them both equally, but am still waiting to hear back from the council.

I found my niche on that wee little island in the form of a job. It was also handy in allowing me the chance to eat. After a few days and help from a local connection, I became part of Phi Phi's flyer world. Every night, on every corner, there stands a backpacker thrusting a little piece of paper in your face and rattling off the night's drink specials to anyone who will listen. After the world's shortest interview-- considering the boss didn't speak english and I speak no thai--I could be found roaming Phi Phi's streets, enticing new tourists with promises of free drink buckets and fire shows at Apache.
coworker BooBoo (aka, jack sparrow)

For the first few hours of every shift, I picked a spot on one of the main pedestrian paths, put on a smile, and tried not to feel like an idiot when passersby avoided my outstretched hand like a plate of plague-ridden spiders. Sometimes my spot of choice was in the busy crossroads of the 7-11, with Reggae flyer girls Matilda and Lena as my company. We worked out a system to direct potential customers to their bar for the free shots at the beginning of the night and my bar for buckets and dancing at the end of it. Sometimes I planted directly in front of the bar that showed the movie "The Beach" every other night without fail. After a few days of work, I had successfully seen the movie in its entirety. Sometimes I'd take a brief intermission from all the stress of the flyering business to accept a drink offer from Ben and my buddies at Banana Sombrero.
fire shows of apache
And sometimes, in the midst of all the island networking, I passed out lots of little papers and got people to go to my bar.

On the days that my promotional enthusiasm inevitably waned, I could always count on a bored bystander to show me how its done: Scottish Chris, with an accent I simultaneously loved and struggled to understand; Turkish Aaron and his sick brother's girlfriend (who suspiciously walked a little closer every time I saw them); Marcus from Manchester, who worked the passing ladies while I chatted up the lads. And then there was the three-year-old Thai boy who requested a stack of flyers from me, turned around, and hit up the next people to pass by. He enjoyed it so much and, truth be told, was the best damn flyerer on the island (only a blind, heartless, puppy-kicking monster could turn down a sight as adorable as that big brown-eyed tyke wandering up with an outstretched hand), I had no choice but to relinquish the full load of flyers, sit back, and learn a thing or two from the little man.
Some might call this child labor. I call it technique trading with an enthusiastic volunteer.

My night ended back at the bar, taking drink orders. Once patrons realized I actually worked there and wasn't just asking if they'd like another drink out of the goodness of my heart, it was also a great way to meet people. I guess I can understand their confusion, considering I was the sole foreigner working among a gang of local Thai boys. There was Bon, A, Boo-Boo, Bau-Bau, YoYo, a few names I can't remember but I'm sure I had to say them twice. And P-Gee, the only other female, who sat behind the bar and took our order money. She loved to talk about me in Thai whenever I was around, knowing I couldn't understand. But I knew it was all good-natured and in fun, so I played along and ate up my role as the smiling farang.

Apache Bar was the place where everyone ended their night. With it's prime beach location and nightly display of fire shows and a full dance floor, it was obvious why. I quickly found my regulars. They kept my spirits up when the newcomers would stare at me in confusion, pondering why this crazy, lonely tourist would be clearing away their empty bottles. The regulars came in without fail, every night they were on the island. It was usually a clump of guys, from England or Israel or Sweden, on a short holiday to a warm island paradise. They would sit in the same spot, order the same drinks and occasionally find a clump of girls, from Ireland or Australia or Sweden, to chat and dance the night away with. If they were nice enough to me (and after multiple days and multiple drinks, they usually were) I rewarded their conversation and tips by personally sending that clump of girls their way.

At the end of every night like this, P-Gee would merrily hand over my 500 Baht of rightfully-earned cash. It sounds impressive, until you realize the exchange rate means that 500 Baht is actually just a little over $15. Little tip for potential employees: Thailand is not the place to work if you're hoping to save for your first house. It did, however, allow me to save every penny I came to Phi Phi with, eat 2-3 large meals a day and even save a little cash for my days after the island. So that, along with the chance to be a part of the island instead of just visit it, made every hour and every cent worth it.

So, in summary: I make $15 a night, I sleep on a mat on the floor, cockroaches smaller than housecats no longer even get a bat of the eye, and I couldn't be happier. I love my life.

*I would have more pictures of the bar and my coworkers, but my camera was lost and stolen on my last night on the island. Boo!
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work as usual, with matilda and le…
work as usual, with matilda and l…
coworker BooBoo (aka, jack sparrow)
coworker BooBoo (aka, jack sparrow)
fire shows of apache
fire shows of apache