Koh Phi Phi Don

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Our visit to Koh Phi Phi Don, off the western coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea, can be described in two parts:

Tuesday, July 3
Part 1: Bad
Tuesday morning we boarded a ferry boat from Rai Leh beach. We chatted with a Louisiana-born California girl for most of the ride, which was very nice. She was on her way to Bali, Indonesia for 6 weeks, in which she plans to spend at least one week in silent meditation. We talked about California, Portland, books, traveling and Tobasco sauce. She was the first girl I had spoken to in over a week, so this small bit of conversation was refreshing.

Now for the bad part…We did not have room reservations, so we ventured out through the city with all of our bags to search for a room. The first two were too expensive. The third was too depressing. The fourth and fifth didn’t have hot showers. The sixth was too expensive. The seventh was a bit more than we wanted to pay, but it had wireless internet. And the eighth was too loud. To add to this fun and excitement, it was about 90ËšF outside, raining and we hadn’t eaten all day…needless to say, we were in bad moods. We decided to splurge and go to the first room. They didn’t have the room available any more. We skipped the second, and settled on the third one that was depressing but cheap.

Our depressing guest house

Our depressing guest house

Exhausted and hungry, we left our bags and set out for lunch. We found a nice little thai place in the midst of Panama City Beach-like tourist shops (Panama City Beach, Florida that is. If you’ve ever been there you know what I mean). Afterwards we went back to the depressing room for a nap on the bed that felt as if we were going to be stabbed with springs every time we moved.

For dinner we decided to have pizza. Dinner was miserable. The food was okay, but the restaurant was packed with sex-hungry Australian college kids on holiday wearing mini skirts and too much makeup. Everyone was checking everyone out, and it was not a pleasurable situation. Nik and I left as quickly as we could and headed out for a walk on the beach where we both let the frustrations of the day out. During our walk, we decided that we would leave this terrible place tomorrow. It wasn’t beautiful enough to stay and endure the bad lodging and over-sexed-gawking.

Even the beach was depressed.

Even the beach was depressed.

Wednesday July 4 – Friday July 6
Part 2: Good
Determined to make Wednesday a good day, we woke up early and took a hike up to the Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint. We were rewarded with this:

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

Then we purchased our ferry tickets back to Krabi, packed up and headed to the same Thai restaurant from yesterday for lunch. It was still only 12pm, so we found a bench by the pier to people watch until the ferry left at 2pm.

Tourists and commercial deliveries fight for space on the deteriorating pier.

Tourists and commercial deliveries fight for space on the deteriorating pier.

As we sat near the pier, the weather was nicer, the water was bluer, and Nik and Jamie were happier. In fact, we were so much happier that we decided to give the island a second chance, but we were going to get the heck out of the tourist hell. We confirmed that our ferry tickets could be used the following day, and we took a short longboat ride to Hat Yao (Long Beach).

Our beachside bungalow.

Our beachside bungalow.

Hat Yao was beautiful and just what we needed. Calm water, nice people, quaint bungalows, beachside hammocks, oceanside restaurants. Pure bliss.

Seaside view from our bungalow

Nik’s Blog: Koh Phi Phi Don

Rai Leh Beach

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

Last Tuesday, we left Krabi to visit Rai Leh Beach. This area is a peninsula that juts out into the Andaman Sea, but can only be accessed by boat because of the high mountain range to its east. Therefore, we hired a long-tail boat from the Krabi pier to Rai Leh (1000baht).

We stayed at Rapala Bungalows our first night (350baht). It was a small bamboo bungalow with a hammock on the front porch. This may sound amazing…but it wasn’t. The mattress was sitting on the floor, which means that it was damp with moisture…meaning that it was probably covered with mildew and mold underneath the sketchy sheets. The bathrooms here also were nothing exciting, and the walls weren’t completely sealed so we were bitten by mosquitoes throughout the night. Needless to say, we looked for other accommodations.

Rapala Bungalows

Rapala Bungalows photo courtesy of Nik

The second and third nights we stayed at the Highland Resort (350baht). These bungalows were much nicer for the same price. The bed was raised off the floor with clean linens. The walls were still not completely sealed, so we still had mosquito bites the next morning, but the shower was clean and refreshing.

Highland Bungalows

Highland Bungalows photo courtesy of Nik

The view from the Highland Bungalows.

The view from the lawn in front of Highland Bungalows.

Also, the bungalows are set in a mountain valley with tall mountains on three sides with the fourth side opening up to the sea. The setting was beautiful….paradise!!

Rai Leh has the best sand you’ve ever set foot on.  It is super fine, almost like mud but not gross.  We spent most of our days here lounging and reading with an occasional walk to the rocky area to see crabs and sea cucumbers.  The at sunset, the locals congregated at the beach to play a full pitch game of futbol with a side game volleyball.  They were quite impressive, and I was very tempted to join…but it was all Thai men, so I didn’t think I’d fit in.

We camped out near that far rock for most of the day to stay out of the direct sun.

We camped out near that far rock for most of the day to stay out of the direct sun. photo courtesy of Nik

Soccer at Sunset. photo courtesy of Nik

Soccer at Sunset photo courtesy of Nik

The food at Rai Leh leaves a lot to be desired.  Most of the accommodations here are big resorts, so most of the restaurants are big resort restaurants.  This means ridiculously high prices for mediocre food (of course, we don’t know what the food tasted like because we weren’t willing to pay!).  We ended up having expensive museli and yogurt for breakfast (90baht), snacks for lunch and soup for dinner(50baht).  It was not the best, but we made it.

Nik’s Blog: Rai Leh Beach

Krabi: Bus Ride & Wat Tham Seua

Monday, June 30th, 2008

June 29, 2008 7:30am – 7:30pm 2nd Class Bus from Bangkok to Krabi

Our transportation.

Our transportation

Instead of flying from Bangkok to Krabi, which would have cost 1,800baht/person ($56), we decided to take the 12 hour bus ride which was only 550baht/person ($17). The cost was one advantage, but for me the big payback was watching the landscape of Thailand pass by. We saw hundreds of cows roaming freely, karsk mountains to the west, karsk mountains to the east, the Andaman Sea to the west, the Gulf of Thailand to the east, simple two room concrete block houses dotted the roadside, occasional lavish mansions by Thai standards, motorbikes zoomed passed, cities where bananas and durian fruit dominated the markets, rubber tree farms, thatch roofs protected from wind by bicycle tires and kids playing and dancing at the bus stops for the entertainment of the passengers. This my friends is the advantage of a road trip. We never could have seen any of this if we had taken a plane. AND it is more environmentally friendly. At this point in our lives, Nik and I have all the time in the world, so we are making the most of it by enjoying this place rather than rushing from one appointment to the next.


The rest stop consisted of a large metal roof structure covering tables with snack foods, a couple hot food vendors and a restroom with squat toilets. Nothing fancy, but it was a good place to stretch our legs.


This is a photo of our first casualty of the trip....Travel Scrabble. This Scrabble board has been part of Nik and I's relationship from day 1, literally. We played on our very first date back on April 6, 2006, and have been playing ever since. This board has gone with us on most of our trips for the past 2 years, and has made it to several of Nik's blog posts. You may even recall his largest victory ever where he scored 318 points in one game. I am very sad to say that Travel Scrabble was left on the bus. We loved you very much, and I hope that someone in Thailand is enjoying this little bundle of joy that Alex donated to us when she left us for NYC.

Upon arrival in Krabi, we had our first of many dinners at their Night Market. About 10 dinner carts dot a vacant concrete patch next to the river along with several metal folding tables. All of the menus are in Thai and English, so most of the farangs make it here eventually!

Nik eating Penang Curry with 5-baht water and a bottle of Coca Cola.

Nik eating Penang Curry with 5-baht water and a bottle of Coca Cola.

Our next adventure in Krabi was visiting Wat Tham Seua and climbing to the top of the adjacent mountain which is the home to one a large golden seated Buddha and a couple small alters. The climb was pretty rigorous with over 1200 steps…and these were not the typical 7″ steps. Several of them had to be over 15″ tall with only a 4″ tread. It was more like climbing a 1200 rung ladder!

The ascent.

The ascent


All around Thailand, they repurpose used automobile tires into trash bins. There were several along the hike up as well as near the beaches in Phi Phi.

Seated Buddha

Seated Buddha


View from the top


Another view from the top

After we came back down the mountain, we went back to the guest house to change out of our sweaty clothes, then we came back to Wat Tham Seua so that we could visit with the monkeys!!  Nik took several good photos, so take a look at his website.

I was still worn out from the hike, so I rested with this little kitten.  She was so adorable that I couldn’t resist petting her.  She climbed right into my lap, and wouldn’t leave.  Unfortunately, I am allergic to cats, so I ended up with puffy eyes for a couple days, but it was worth it.


My friend


This happens to be at the base of the temple, but it is typical of all electrical wiring in Thailand. I don't know how people don't get electrocuted.

Then we took a short ride outside of Krabi.  We were on the same roads we had traveled down yesterday on the bus, but it was so much nicer to be on the motorbike!!  The neatest part for me was the rubber tree farms.  I have never seen one, so to watch white latex dripping from the trunk of a tree was pretty amazing!!

Rubber tree farm.

Rubber tree farm


Rubber catcher

Nik’s Blog: Last Day in Bangkok, Best day in Krabi

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