I love islands because – we both are alone, detached from the world and beautiful.
01 September 2017
Rock Climbing was done, and I was looking forward to Scuba Diving.
A night before, I bought my ferry tickets for Phi Phi islands in 300 THB including hotel transfers. They were going to pick me up from the hotel lobby at 8 o’clock in the morning.
Early morning, I packed my stuff, had a delicious breakfast. By the time I completed my check-out at reception, one minivan came to the resort right on time. It took us straight to the Krabi Pier. I walked inside the building which has a wooden platform extended into the sea.
A huge vessel – Andaman Wave Master – was docked to the port, waiting for the passengers. I stepped aboard this 2 storied air-conditioned ship, kept my luggage inside and went upstairs to the deck. Soon after, the boat started its voyage towards Phi Phi islands. Instead of sitting in the AC, I preferred to stay on the sun deck. Because from there, I can have a 360 degrees view of the blue sky and the infinite ocean.
The distant limestone cliffs, which I was climbing a day before, were visible from the boat. I was trying to locate Railay and Ao Nang beaches on the horizon.
After one and half hour and 38 kilometres long sailing, a group of Phi Phi islands became clearly visible. I saw the black clouds hovering over the Phi Phi Leh, that made me worried about my Scuba Diving plans. Numerous speed boats were rushing over the turquoise blue water and our big ship was headed towards the Tonsai pier slowly.
As I got out of the Tonsai pier, the officials asked to pay 20 THB entry fees. The hotel guy came to the pier with his trolley to pick up the guests of Andaman Beach Resort. He loaded my luggage and walked me to the resort. I completed the check-in formalities with a welcome drink. One guy escorted me to my room number 101.
Hurriedly I dumped my luggage and came out with my camera. But by that time the clouds came over the Phi Phi Don and it started raining heavily. All the boats and people were running here and there. In that chaos, I took shelter at one restaurant and ordered a meal while waiting for the rain to stop.
The sudden thunderstorms made it impossible to go into the sea. So I went back to my hotel and took a rest until late afternoon.
Not everything goes by the itinerary, we need to prepare for the uncertainties.
In the late afternoon, I woke up and walked to the main market. The rainfall had stopped but the clouds were still moving above the head. The damage had already done. I lost a day where I had planned for a Scuba Dive, which was not possible under these circumstances.
I visited many diving centres to inquire about the diving courses, schedule and cost. The rate was same, 3400 THB for Discover Scuba dive which is a half day activity and includes two dives.
That was a time to make a tough decision between Scuba Diving and Maya Bay. In haft day, I can do only one of these things. The next day, I had to leave for the Phuket by 02:30 pm. I thought over again and again and finally decided to go for Maya Bay. I booked a trip to Maya Bay which includes snorkelling and kayaking in just 500 THB.
Sudden rain had ruined my scuba diving plans on the remote islands. I sat on the beach in the evening, doing absolutely nothing but thinking about life. Long tail boats, as well as speed boats, were floating aimlessly over the silent waves. I can see the tiny little island group in a distance where I will be going underwater the next day. The moment was mine, without any distractions. What more I can expect on my Birthday night.
I realized, ‘I can’t explore everything. I have to learn to let it go and enjoy the moment.’
Ko Phi Phi Don, situated at 38 km Southwest of Krabi, is an insanely pretty island I chose to stay for my Birthday. I got some amazing views of the colourful sky from the beach in front of Andaman Beach Resort. I spent my evening on the less crowdy curved beach on the right side of the Ton Sai Bay. Phi Phi Don is practically two islands joined by a narrow isthmus, making it H shaped.
After roaming around the island, I came back to the room, got freshen up. Then went out for dinner at the Hippies bar. They used to have a fire show at night. I ordered sea-food with prawns rice and some drink. The place was romantic but I was alone. I had my dinner and came out to the beach front.
While seating alone on the beach, a little cat came to me, hoping that she will get some food. But I didn’t have anything to offer. Still, she stayed for a while with me.
And the moment had arrived – clock ticks 12 am.
There was no cake, no friends, no phone calls, no wishes. All I had was a sky full of glittering stars and the rhythmic music of incessant waves. That’s how I spent my own moment among nature, in peace. Like a longtail boat floating on the waves. The moon was hidden somewhere in the scattered clouds.
One and half hours later, I started getting birthday wish calls from friends in India.
02 September 2017
Sleep was scarce for me on this trip. I woke up early even though I had slept only for a couple of hours. The only sound I could hear was that of waves. The climate was humid causing so much of fog on the camera lens that I couldn’t clear right away.
It was a clear day, so I thought it will be easier to climb the hill and come back on time. As I left behind my hotel room, I started to walk following the signboards. There are no big roads and vehicles on the island. The narrow road lined by tattoo, artists, diving centres and cloths is the only way to go.
I just asked one guy to cross-check whether I was on right track or not. He said he will show me a shortcut. True to his words, he had shown me another way. But the stairs were steep. Learned from the Tiger Cave mistake, I ascended slowly until viewpoint 1.
There I paid 30 baht as entrance fees. These viewpoints came inside the Muslim village. From here I can see the H shape of Phi Phi Don. There were big letters saying I love Phi Phi. So it was a photo opportunity and I spent some time there.
With no motorised transport, the Phi Phi island has a very less carbon footprint.
I really wanted to see the Phi Phi islands from the hilltop. It was totally worth the efforts of the climbing hill to get stunning views. The exquisite views of Phi Phi’s mountain butterfly will keep you spellbound.
You have to climb 186 metres up the hill of Phi Phi Don to get this amazing view. From here, you can see Phi Phi Leh in the left corner, Tonsai Bay and Loh Dalum Bay. The view Dumbbell shape of Phi Phi Don island is just magnificent among the turquoise blue waters. Still, the thick green vegetation is dominating these islands but increasing concrete jungle can be a major concern in the near future.
The second viewpoint was the best one. I spent a good amount of time there. I need to get back to the hotel, take a shower, do the packing, have breakfast and check out. So while coming down, I came to know that there is another viewpoint and that was going to cost me my breakfast. I glanced at my watch and I decided to go up. On the way, I met a German guy walking around. He also came with me up there. We took each other’s photos and then I left.
Now it took me 30 minutes to get to the resort. Quick shower and packing took a little time. Then I checked out. While going I just had guava juice.
View Point 3 is the highest point on the island with magnificent views of Loh Dalum Bay.
Going Under Water
Exactly at 9 am, I walked to the shop where I made my booking a day before. I kept my luggage there and got my snorkelling gear, cameras with me. Soon we got into the green boat with a group of tourists among them 4 were Indians.
The beautiful Phi Phi Leh islands were growing as the boat was getting closer. After roughly 30 minutes sailing, the boat stopped in front of the giant cave under a tall limestone cliff, known as Vikings cave. They said the paintings found on the inner walls of the cave possibly realised by the sailors. Unfortunately, there was no entry inside the cave.
Then we came to Pileh bay, where the boat was stopped for the Snorkelling. For the first time, I was going to take my GoPro Hero 5 Black underwater. One girl on my boat also has the same camera, and she had never used it underwater before.
Anyway, I jumped into the water with Snorkelling gear and GoPro. I felt relieved to see that the camera was working as expected. Due to snorkel equipment, I was facing difficulty while going deep underwater. The crystal clear water offered some amazing view of marine life. The colourful fishes were all over. I spotted one bluefish hovering over the beautiful corals under water.
After a few more jumps, the snorkelling session got over. Even though I wanted to go for scuba dive, I enjoyed the snorkelling a lot.
For a time bieng, I was transported into the mysterious but beautiful Marine World.
Love at First Sight
Loh Samah Bay is on the other side of Maya Bay where my cruise boat was halted. The crystal clear water surrounded by limestone hills created a unique view. I loved the sight of that little green island jutted out of the crystal clear turquoise blue water. Probably the best place for Snorkelling/Swimming but I did Kayaking there across the bay. These magnificent limestone islands don’t have sandy beaches but have beautiful rock bottoms.
Suddenly the boatman told us to jump into the water and go the ridge where the rope is weaved to climb up into the Lagoon. I was worried because I wanted to take my camera with me. They had a Kayak to take me to the rope. Also, they helped me to get a big plastic bag to wrap my camera bag just in case.
Carefully I stepped onto the yellow Kayak holding a big plastic bag. We rowed to the ridge. I hold the rope tightly by one hand and grabbed my plastic bag in another. Then I climbed the rope to get into the marine park overcrowded with hundreds of tourists.
A little walk through the lagoon and I was on the Maya Bay. The area is not so big and can be easily covered by walking.
The small green limestone islet surrounded by the crystal clear water of Loh Samah Bay was a sight to behold.
1999 Hollywood movie – The Beach – featuring Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed here. After that, this place came onto the radar of International tourists.
The stunningly beautiful Maya Bay is sheltered by 100 metre high cliffs from 3 sides. The 200-metre beach has silky soft white sand and exceptionally crystal clear water. No doubt the beach is beautiful, but it’s always overcrowded with too many tourists and boats. You will need to pay National Park Fees of 400 THB for entering into the Maya Bay.
Among the international crowd, Indians are easy to spot. I met 3 guys from Delhi there. They came from Phuket & were having a party that night on Paradise beach. He gave his number to call him after reaching Phuket.
Soon there was nothing to do on Maya Bay. It was extremely hot & I was roaming around topless. But I was not able to see anyone from my boat. I waited for a moment and then headed back to the Loh Samah Bay. There I found out that all those people were waiting for me in a boat.
Again I kept cameras in plastic. The boy came with Kayak to take me to the boat. By the time I reached, others had finished their lunch. I just got some watermelon slices and water.
It is impossible to imagine Maya Bay without tourists, yet it is so clean and serene.
On my return journey, I saw the Bida Nok & Bida Nai, scuba diving sites, in a distance. The huge rock face of Phi Phi Leh was marvellous. I had wait to get the whole island group in a single frame. I was wondering whether someone has ever climbed these limestone cliffs?
Phi Phi Leh is an uninhabited island lies 1.5 km off the southernmost tip of Phi Phi Don. The stunning vertical cliffs capped with green foliage holds some of the best beaches and bays. I fell in love with this place and would come back in the future.
On Return to the Ton Sai pier, I went back to the store where I kept my bag. I took a quick shower in a small bathroom & changed into dry clothes. Then for food, I went to The Pirates. First time in Thailand, I couldn’t resist ordering Indian Food, Chicken Biryani and Lassi. The ambience was good, same with the food. I never had Chicken Biryani with dry fruits in India.
I rushed to the Ton Sai Pier again to catch a boat to Phuket.
Phi Phi islands had left a beautiful impression on my heart and proved a thrilling beginning of another year of my life.