Koh Phi Phi Don
I sat leaning up against a railing on the deck of the ferry with my bare feet hanging over the side of the boat – a slight breeze really doing nothing to offset the 30° humid air. As we started getting closer to Koh Phi Phi Don, I realized that once I got to the island, I didn’t know where I was meeting up with my friends – possibly the first hurdle for me on this trip. I vaguely remembered getting a Facebook message from them when I was in Hong Kong, telling me about where were staying Koh Phi Phi, but I was in such a drug-haze (ambien, nothing bad) that I couldn’t even remember the details.
Pulling into Phi Phi, it’s quickly apparent that everything we read about it was dead-on – this was one of the hearts of the Southeast Asia tourist trail. Resorts and restaurants lined the entire banana-shaped bay scattered with hundreds of loosely docked longboats while backpack wearing Westerners paraded around as each local tried to sell them on some sort of tour or resort to stay at. It was the relative chaos that I was kind of expecting from reading about the casual, yet pushy commercialism. There are no cars on the island so the actual town seems more like just cramped alleyways stuffed with as many bars, restaurants, tour operators, and shops that the locals could fit into the area. And I just stayed on the top deck of the ferry watching everything unfold. I was in no rush – getting off these boats is a mess – they toss everyone’s bags into one big pile behind the seats on the main deck for “luggage storage” and then when the boat docks, all 50+ people try to crowd around this pile to grab their bag first. I just hung up top soaking it all in as everyone else elbowed for their place in the bag-ruck down below.
As I slowly made my way off the ferry, I figured I needed WiFi to find out to where I need to go and coffee as soon as possible so I didn’t pass out. As I walked down the concrete pier politely declining tour operators attempts for sales, my buddy Rob was just leaning up against a rock wall chillin’ with some chicken on a stick and a big Singha… Well that was easier than expected. He introduced me to our boat driver that would take us to Tokho Beach Resort (the name didn’t even ring a bell from the Hong Kong Facebook message…) on the quieter East side of the Island and after a coffee and a beer in town, we were on the longboat heading to the other side of the island.
And my experience on Koh Phi Phi Don was entirely different than a lot of others, many of which apparently just come to party. As soon as I got to Tokho, part of my group just hopped the ferry to go drinking in town, but coming off such a long day of travel, I decided to just hang at the resort for the night – some good food, nice sunset (and a Harvest Moon-rise), a lot of big Singha’s, and I passed out in the hammock of our bungalow. Phi Phi has the reputation as a party spot, but I definitely did not partake. And I’m glad – I awoke the next morning to see the slight orange glow of the sunrise on the horizon. Rolling over, I actually fell out of the hammock onto the deck, quietly grabbed my camera and tripod, and strolled down to the beach. As I sat there, the peaceful private beach slowly began to be dowsed in the warm rays of the rising sun.
And I only spent that one night on Phi Phi – we were heading North to Tonsai Bay between Krabi and Ao Nang.