Pretty. Freakin. Ridiculous. That about sums up this past weekend to Thailand and my little adventure to the Ko Phi Phi Islands and Patong beach in Phuket
. Words can hardly describe how awesome it was; in the span of less than two days in the country, we were able to squeeze in a luxury resort vacation and a some crazy nights on the town. I'll try my best to do it justice.
After waking for a very early morning cab ride to the airport Friday morning, the flight over to Phuket was very pleasant (mostly since I slept through it. And then the fun started immediately. We (a group of six - me, Tribble, Chris, David, Thomas, and Adrienne) walked out of the terminal and there was our guy, holding a sign which read "Mr.
at the port
Andrew & party"; this was for our group getting the family bungalow on Phi Phi. I knew we were going to be well taken care of this weekend. I felt like such a baller. The van took us to the southeastern tip of Phuket, where we had to wait at the ferry port for a few hours. The wait wasn't so bad, considering we were able to eat some good Thai food and a couple of drinks, discovering the wonderful similarities of "Chang" beer to Natty Light. Six others of our group joined us, as they were getting a family bungalow as well. Georgia Tech was about to show Phi Phi what was up. The ferry to Phi Phi Don, the main island where all the people are, was pretty cool. It was full of people, but we chilled up on the bow and got some sun and great pics. I finally figured out how to take video on my camera, and posted it here to give a little flavor of what we were seeing.
at the bow, Thai flag included
The Holiday Inn resort was the last stop on the ferry, so it did take a while. Apparently we were on a more remote area that mostly older, richer people were going to . Most of the people aged 20-30 got off on the other side of the island where I guess there was cheaper accomodations, as well as a little "town" where the nightlife was. We would definitely check that out later. We disembarked from the ferry onto small longboats, which took us to the shore. Checking in was pretty cool; there was no desk, we just sat down at a table in the bar area, they brought us a free fruity drink, and took care of our every need. We were able to book our excursion for the next day as well as our ride back right there! We arrived at about 4pm, so we immediately dropped our stuff off in the rooms (which were pretty nice by the way) and ran off to the beach.
longboat approaching the hotel
Incredible! the water was warm and crystal clear, and the view of islands in the distance (large formations of limestome jutting straight out of the water with huge cliffs) was amazing. And it just kept getting better from there.
Dinner was off the chain. No lie. It was just an assortment of gourmet food set out buffet style; succulent meats, great seafood, fresh fruit, tasty appetizers, rich desserts, and even ice cream. All for about the equivalent of less than $25 (with drinks). It was at this moment I realized we were about to live like kings for the next couple of days. Thailand, and Phi Phi in particular, is one of the most beautiful places on earth, but it is probably the one place where you can get the best bang for your buck. If you're willing to drop a couple hundred dollars, you are pretty much treated like royalty.
We were having a freking awesome time. A few of us then rented a longboat for 4 hours (for like $12 bucks a pop - ridiculous!). We left our side of the island at about 11pm, headed to the other side of the island (about a 30 minute ride), and partied it up while our boat just waited for us to come back. Riding the boat at night was an amazing experience; it was very dark and a million stars in the sky.
Hanging out on the "hip" side of the island was a blast. This is where I realized a recurring theme for the weekend. There are a ton of Australians on Phi Phi! We noticed this later as well; I guess Thailand is a hot tourism spot for the Aussies. Shoot, I'd come too if it was so close and cheap! They are mostly cool, but kind of annoying too. Anyway, we headed to Reggae Bar, and it was very cool.
me on the beach
The center of the downstairs area was a boxing ring, set up for Muai Thai fights. We got a couple of rum "buckets" and went to watch the action. They were giving away free buckets to anyone who went up in the ring. So of course, Zach Tribble (under our peer pressure of course) decided to give it a crack. We all thought it would be a fun drunk guy fight, but we were a little mistaken, haha. Zach and his opponent got all their gear on and began the fight; I was in my guy's corner with the water bottle at the ready. It may have lasted two minutes. These people were actually trained! After getting a bloody nose and knocked around a couple of times they decided to call it a match. The other fighter was really cool about it, and made sure not to hurt Zach once he landed that first punch and realized it was a gangle amateaur.
Phi Phi Leh
But man, it was funny! Zach was so proud of his battle scars and that free bucket. We then watched some other matches; when the two pro Thai guys went up against each other, it was incredible. They would drop to the floor so hard after a hit. But at midnight, they offered free buckets upstairs in the more "club" area, and we partied and danced until it was time to take our boat back. It was off the hook.
The next morning was probably one of the most memorable ones in my life. We had booked a speedboat for a 4 hour excursion to Phi Phi Leh, the famous, gorgeous uninhabited island close by. The breakfast buffet almost rivalled the dinner one too. We started by going to the only real "beach" on the island; there wasn't many sandy beachers there since the while island is enormous masses of limestone jutting out of the water.
The beach, where of course the famous movie "The Beach" was filmed, was located in a secluded bay on the far side of the island. The view was amazing, as we were surrouned by huge vertical cliffs. The water was just as blue as the sky. After chilling there for about an hour, we decided to to to another area to go snorkeling. I had never really been snorkeling before, and this probably became the most amazing thing I have done in my life. We pulled up to an area with crystal clear turqoise water, and it was full of fish! We put our fins and masks on and just went to town. The water was about 20 feet deep, and there were many exotic fish to look at. Surprisingly, they didn't seem to mind our presence, and were just chilling out all around us. They would move if you triied to touch them though; fast little buggers.
beach at PP Leh
Words just can't explain how beautiful this was. We visited a few more areas around the island and then headed back. I can't believe how little money I paid to see and do all of that.
We checked out of our rooms at about noon, and had a couple of hours to chill on the beach until our speedboat came to pick us and take us back to the mainland (a quicker option than the ferry). I took a nap under a Mangrove tree on the beach and then it was time to head off. The speedboat ride was a little bumpy on the ocean waves, but we were flying and it was a blast. The taxi waiting for us at the port was hilarious. A huge, pimpin winnebego-looking thing which could fit all 12 of us. It really stood out againnst the many scooters on the roads of Phuket! Once we got to Patong Beach
late Saturday afternoon, we checked into the hostel that many others of the GT group had been staying in (some people stayed on Patong the whole time).
we snorkeled here!
Being in the city (even though it was a beach which probably catered to Westerners) made us realize that Phi Phi was not your usual Thailand. The paradise on Earth we had just experienced was a long cry away from the cramped dirty streets in the city, but we were ready to have some fun anyway.
Many of us went immediately to go get a traditional Thai massage. About 7 bucks for an hour. Pretty crazy deal! five of us fit into the room at once and were on little mattresses on the floor with some crazy incense smells going on. The massage was interesting to say the least...it was kind of painful but also really good. Just picture a little Thai lady pretty much beating up on you, bending and stretching your limbs to the point where you can just take the pain.
departing Phi Phi Leh
It was defintely a full body massage: some of it tickled (feet), some of it kind of hurt (pressure points on the calves and thighs), some of it felt really good (back, neck and shoulders), and some of it was just awesome (face and scalp). I'd do it again, the pain was worth it. We then had an authentic Thai dinner on some little side street with a bunch of local restaurant stalls. They know how to make some spicy food! I decided to liberally apply some sauce with fresh chilis to my fried crab noodle. I was definitely sweating at the brow, but man that heat was good.
After returning to the room, me, Tribble, and Demby (who we met up with on Patong) showered and got ready to go out. We took little scooter cabs to the Banana Disco club; these things were hilarious.
Thomas, me, & David
Demby and I fit on the back of one and Tribble on the other. Zooming though the streets on the back of a scooter wiht the wind on your face is quite an experience! We ended up going to a couple of clubs that night, and it was a ton of fun. Definitely turning the tables around on that Georgia Tech ratio! Having to get up for a 6am cab to the airport kind of stunk, but it was well worth it. I almost feel like I had two trips in one this weekend: a resort vacation mixed with the Southeast Asian city experience. This trip definitely blew anything else I have ever done out of the water. And that includes Europe. I almost wish we would have saved this until later because we just got spoiled! I've got to come back when I'm older; like I said, a few hundred bucks and you live like a baller.
Melissa & I
Unfortunately, I never really had time to get pictures in Phuket, but the ones from Phi Phi should definitely tell the story. Look out for my next crazy adventure.