Monday, July 13, 2009

Paradise Found (Phi Phi Islands, Thailand)

Today, we had a 90% chance of rain, but we got lucky.  Somehow the 10% chance at a dry day worked out.  This is not to say that the weather was without its faults.  The Sun only made a brief cameo today, sort of towards the end and pretty forgettable, kind of like Sean Connery in Robinhood.  

We had been signed up for a speed boat rental, but we needed at least 4 more people to make it economically feasible.  Luckily, the front desk phoned us at 8am to inform us that we had our speed boat waiting.  Everyone met up in the open air lobby and were ready to go right on time, except the Indians.  We had to wait an additional 30 minutes for them to finish their breakfast, and, as it turned out, they could not even swim anyways.  What a waste.  Just prior to departure, the captain walked up and gave us seasickness medicine.  We were informed that the open water waves would be 3 to 4 meters high.  Fun.  After departing from our port, we stopped for a snorkel at Lantee Bay or Runtee Bay, depending on who you ask.  It is kind of strange over here in regards to the naming of geographical things.  I think the phonetic conversion from Thai causes discrepancies, so you get different names.  Another example is Phi Phi Leh, or Lay, or Ley.  Anyways, we had unbelievable snorkeling.  It was seriously almost as good as our dive, and maybe even a little better.  It was difficult to dive without the underwater camera that leaked and faded out the other day.  I was probably looking more forward to capturing creatures underwater then just about anything on this trip.  It is definitely impossible to explain chasing a parrot fish through the corals on one breath, or swimming alongside a poisonous sea snake (both happened today), and that is why I need the underwater camera. I am buying a new one in Phuket tomorrow, finances be damned.  If anyone wants me to dedicate the camera in your honor, then please send me half a grand.  

The snorkeling was so, so great.  Kristin and I just swam around pointing at stuff and diving after cool looking fish.  We followed up our swim at Lantee Bay with a little gawking at some beach monkeys.  This crew of beach monkeys look like a washed up old crew from some lost monkey pirate ship.  Shipwrecked, they have taken to entertaining all comers with their antics.  When we pulled up, one was slamming a beer.  They were throwing fruit at eachother.  It was a pretty motley crew, and a hilarious scene.  

Maya bay is considered by some to be one of the best and most unique beaches in the world.  Located on Phi Phi Leh Island (the uninhabited one), it has a small beach and a crescent shaped bay with water that looks like it came out of a plastic kool aid squeeze bottle.  Like James Bond Island, it enjoyed a stand alone reputation for its beauty for at least a hundred years, but has skyrocketed in popularity due to a movie appearance.  It is the beach featured in the movie “The Beach”  with Leo Decraprio.  It did not disappoint.  Since the water was so choppy, only speed boats could get in the opening to the bay from open water, so it was not crowded at all.  The boat ride to the bay was definitely a rocky sacrifice in comfort that was now being rewarded. We hung out and swam, a handful of late nineties moby songs cycling through my brain's internal playlist (His music was featured prominently in the movie, which came out in the late 90's).  

Our next stop, Loh Samah, is a crystal clear bay at the other end of the island.  I jumped in the clear waters off the stern of the boat, slipping and trying to recover before I landed on my belly.  It thankfully worked, though it was not at all graceful.  It was pretty deep and very clear.  Nearby, we stopped to peak in the Viking Cave.  It is called the viking cave because there are cave drawings of Viking ships inside the cave from a long time ago.  The cave is used by swiftlets to build nests, and the nests are used by eccentric Chinese people for food.  The nests in the cave are harvested and used in Bird's Nest Soup, an extremely popular and expensive Asian dish.  The nests go for thousands per kilo, basically because of the tasty swiftlet saliva that holds the nest together.  Gross dude.

We did some laying out on a random beach, and then headed back to our resort.  The rest of the day was basically filled with just eating, walking on the beach, and doing impersonations of Lou.  We chose to do the dinner buffet instead of ordering off a menu and it was a damned feast.  I made the house band play “my my hey hey” for me while I shredded through a plate of Nasi Goreng with a hot and sour sea bass soup.  I will dream of swimming in that soup tonight, climbing atop floating sheaves of sea bass.     

Ton Sai Bay

Edge of the bay

Drunk monkeys demanding food and drink

Motley Crew

Drink it down bud

He really likes his Pepsi

What a bunch of shipwrecked weirdos

Later oddballs


Maya Bay Beach, "The Beach"

Pretty empty

The infamous Maya Bay entry

Great water - so clear

We had a swim here

Moments before my embarrassing dive


To navigate back to sea

Kristin swimming

Viking cave

Swiftlet Nest Emporium

A humble home?

View of Krabi on the horizon

Fun with cameras


My favorite picture of the day, perfect timing


A bar

We laid out here

An asian man being buried alive

Kristin catching some rays, man, she got burnt

Bye beach

Low tide again back at the resort

About to have a bev

Working it

Trying to blend in with the crabs

Looks like a wasteland - dramatic low tide


Great band, they play like 8 hours EVERY day, like the Beatles in


More dinner

Love you, Hot and Sour Sea Bass Soup with Herbs

More regional delights


  1. What unadulterate beauty. The water looks like a swimming pool. Justin I love your hairy crab legs. Kristin you look like a lobster. Love Gram S

  2. Ohhhh I wish I were a drunk as i could be, stranded on the isle of Phi Phi......

  3. I had no idea there was such beauty where you are. This has been quite an adventure for us!! Miss you both Love, Grandma O

  4. There are several varieties of hard coral including brain, cabbage, plate, leaf and stag horn coral. Plus sea fans, sea whips, anemones, sea stars, sea cucumbers and spiny sea

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