Sunday, May 5, 2013

An Island Getaway

After the hustle and bustle of being in cities during our first week in Thailand, we decided that we needed a break and headed down south to soak up the sun, do some diving and absolutely nothing. Like I've mentioned before, hubs and I are extremely a.d.d. when it comes to vacationing and while the plan was to spend our days on the beach, that didn't happen for very long. My pale skin is proof of that.

After hopping on a plane from Chiang Mai to Phuket, we caught a ferry boat that would take us to Phi Phi Island. We heard very mixed reviews of the small island, but mostly that it had gorgeous beaches and a very lively (aka loud) party scene. We weren't too worried because the hotel that we had found were small bungalows located on a hillside up from the water and about a ten minute boat ride (there were free shuttles through the hotel) or 20 minute walk from town. We figured that we would be far enough away from the bar scene that we wouldn't be able to hear it. Wrong. Oh so wrong. While it didn't stop us from getting a good night sleep, loud bumping music could still be heard on the other side of the cove. 
View from our room
We decided that with Phi Phi, we would go low maintenance and focus on the experience instead. So with no air conditioner and no hot water we 'roughed it' on this little island getaway. It actually worked out a lot better than I expected. We weren't there during the day so we had little need for the air conditioner since the sea breeze at night cooled us down plenty. And we were so hot in the morning before we left that the 'only cold' water option felt great! The only problem were the bugs that seemed to love our room. 
There were also monkeys in the forest that we were in which we could see on the dirt path that led to town. One night, after we were all settled inside our mosquito net, with all the doors open and fast asleep, we both woke with a startle. In a matter of minutes, while I scanned unsuccessfully around the pitch black room, I was convinced that there was a monkey inside the room. Just a side note, I'm not a huge fan of monkeys. While they're cute to look at, I've seen too many of them try to attack people to think that they're harmless. Thank goodness for brave husbands that go and check for vicious monkeys in the dark. Even though he found nothing, I still wasn't convinced and had a hard time sleeping as I imagined what our torn apart room would look like in the morning...that ocean breeze can sure do wonders with plastic bags and creaky doors. 
Our bungalow getaway on a hill.
View from the hotel shore.
One of our first nights on the island (we spent a total of two nights, three days there) we ventured into town to grab a drink and sit on the beach. They have awesome beach front bars there with bean bags to sit on in the sand while you watch the sunset and sip away on a bucket. Yup, a bucket. They have these sand castle bucket stands on the streets and also in bars. They have a variety of options and often include liquor, energy drinks or soda. When you choose which one you want, they simply pour everything inside and add a straw. Dangerous...but delicious. 
Every bar also had fire shows at night. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the nightlife because I have never seen anything like it. These guys went crazy walking up and down the beaches doing tricks with their fire staffs and almost throwing sparks into the crowd. I guess that's why they want you to buy a bucket first, so you won't care so much if sparks of fire come hurling towards you...
Before we left on the last day we took a hike up the tallest point of the island. From here you could see the entirety of the island. To get here, there were steep stairs all the way up the mountainside with hotels on either side. I'm so glad that we didn't have to do the stair master to get to and from our hotel every day. Even though it may have not been a bad idea with the amount of pad thai and roti pancakes that we were having on a daily basis. 
This area is also the evacuation route in case of a tsunami. They had before and after pictures at the top from the last tsunami and it really hit home just how much of this island was washed away. If you haven't seen the movie The Impossible or the documentary, Tsunami Caught on Tape I would highly recommend it. It will leave you in tears but it does such a great job at portraying not only the horror of Mother Nature but also the compassion of people as they risk their lives to save perfect strangers. 

Overall we're really glad that we went because it's a beautiful island but we probably wouldn't go back again. As great of a place that it is for scuba diving, relaxing on the beach and also doing a bit of hiking, the town itself is overly crowded with tourists there for a drinking holiday. Fun for some, but just not our style as we're attracted to more of a laid back, not as touristy sort of feel. 
Have you ever taken a trip to a place that while it's great, you would never go back?

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