A Travellerspoint blog

Phi Phi Don

I Forgot to enter this.....

Jan 20th
Phi phi don
The rain stopped during the night and we woke to another beautiful day in paradise.

We were directed to wait in front of our hotel for the boat to Phi Phi Island and given an orange sticker to put on our t shirts. At 9:45 a woman yelled “Phi Phi’ and we all follow her down to the beach, wheeling our luggage in the sand towards the long tail boats. We had to pick up our 40 pound suitcases and wade into the water over our knees to put them into the boats and then climb in. We head out to sea and wait until we see a large ferry coming our way. Hmmm. How are we going to get onto this ferry in the middle of the ocean?
It pulls up along side and thankfully the boat staff pull our suitcases up onto the ferry and we just have to climb up around five feet to get in. There wasn’t a ladder but some rails to put your feet onto. The boat was packed to the rafters, with young people lining all parts of the deck. Lana and I head downstairs to sit inside in the airconditioned room while Jane stayed up to get more sun.

In an hour and ½ we arrived at the pier on the island of Phi Phi Don. Chaos ensued getting off as everyone tries to locate their luggage and then we all make our way down the pier to try and locate our hotels. There are no cars or vechiles on the island which is nice, but our hotel is quite a ways down the beach. We hear the name of our hotel, Phi Phi Bayview Resort, and are directed down some stairs to another long tail boat and in less than 15 mintues we arrive at our new home for the next three nights. Out hotel is located at the end of the beach and we are all directed to wait in the lobby as they work through checking everyone in. There is one young man and woman who is yelling and so rude it is absolutely amazing. Check in time is not until 2 PM and it is only 12 and he is demanding his room now! The rest of us are so embarrassed at his behavior. The Thai people usually don’t get mad however they do get even. He was still there after the rest of us were checked into our rooms.

Our cabin is up a number of stairs and has an amazing view over the bay. We have a lovely big balcony with lounge chairs and we are in heaven. We are also extremely hot, it is again so humid here. We get into our bathing suits and head for the pool right away. They had a massage place beside the pool so I went for a ½ hour aloa vera massage to cool down my sunburn. It was wonderful! And only nine dollars.
Back to the room to laze on the balcony and read our books. It was too hot to venture out until around 4:30PM and even then we were sweating like crazy. We decided to walk into the town and head over the other side of the island to check out that beach.

Many shops bars and restaurants along the way. Phi Phi is very much a party island with primarily young people between the ages of 18 and 30 here for the sun beach and partying. Not too much Thai Culture here. The other beach was nice, we had some pizza and barbequed corn on the beach for dinner and then headed back towards our hotel looking at the many shops along the way.

Posted by debbep 21:10 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Our amazing trip comes to an end.

Phuket

After another substantial and delicious breakfast we are taken by long boat to the Phi Phi pier for our ferry to Phuket. We are a bit sad to leave Phi Phi, it was so beautiful and relaxing here.

We are one of the first few on the ferry, like good soldiers we are always there at the designated times while everyone else always saunters in an hour later. We did manage to get a seat however which was a bonus. The ferry is less than ¼ of the size of the BC Ferry and packed to the rafters. There are far more people than seats and the luggage is piled ten feet high in the back of the boat. Ours is on the very bottom. All the stories of overcrowded sinking ferries in Thailand come to mind at this point.
At 9:30A we finally cast off and after only 10 minutes stop in the middle of the ocean. Another ferry of the same size pulls up along side. Are you kidding me???? They have people pass with their luggage from the other ferry to our ferry in the middle of the ocean. I guess we still had room??

Arrival at Phuket harbor an hour and an half later was pure chaos. Everyone trying to get off this one small departure point at once and also get their luggage. We just hung back as ours was on the bottom anyhow.
We are transported to the other side and quite amazed at how big the city of Phuket is. An hour later and we are close to the beach I suppose, it is hard to tell. It looks like Bangkok to me, busy streets, lots of tourists of all shapes and sizes walking the streets in bathing suits and cover-ups.

Our hotel was less than I expected it to be, the pictures on the internet portrayed it a little differently. Check in time was not for another hour and a half so Jane took off to find out if she could get some inexpensive prescription glasses and Lana and I went to find the beach which apparently was two blocks away.

We arrived at Patong beach and just stood and burst out laughing. We looked at each other in disbelief! How can I describe it? Waikiki beach with four times as many people. There were thousands of people lying on lounge chairs (that you have to rent) about 20 deep and the entire length of the beach in both directions as far as the eye can see. The water was also busy with swimmers and people cooling off. Parasailers fly overhead, sellers on the beach flogging their wares. What a frickin nightmare. Not only are we wondering why we are here, why the hell would anyone else come here?
phuket 003

phuket 003


phuket 002

phuket 002

We left to do a bit of window shopping but the humidity is just killing us so we duck into an Indian resteraunt for a fantastic lunch. The Indian man working there was so thrilled that I had been to India and doubly thrilled that we had been to Myanmar as two of his staff were from there that he gave us a free dessert, took our pictures and gave us a big hug and kiss as we left….. People are very friendly here in Phuket.
Jane was already in the room when we got back and we didn’t say a word about the beach to her. We wanted to see the look on her face. She had found some glasses that she wanted us to check out and we approved of her selection so they will be ready for pick up in three hours at ¼ of the price of getting them at home.

Down to the beach and Lana and I rush ahead of Jane to be able to turn around and see her face. It was priceless. Shock and awe. We had a great laugh about it and so thankful that we only booked two nights here. We did a bit more shopping on the way back to the hotel, didn’t buy anything but had a look around. Lana and I chipped in on something special for Janes Birthday to always be able to remember this trip by.
phuket a

phuket a


We booked tickets for this recommended show and were picked up in a van with some other folks. A young man of 28 from Singapore was on his own and asked if he could join us which was great. It was like a Las Vegas revue show and the women costumes and sets were gorgeous.
us with show girls

us with show girls

Aren' they gorgeous?
These are boys, ladyboys to be exact. Thai transvestites. Some are so beautiful you just cant believe it and many have breast implants and tuck the other parts away so you cant tell even in a skimpy outfit. It does cause some problems sometimes for some of the male tourists that come and think they are bringing a gorgeous Thai woman back to their room…….
Then there are the ones that are just not very attractive men dressed as women. It was a fun show however and we were glad we went. On the ride back the man I was sitting beside asked me where I was from and so asked the same to which he replied ‘Iran’. I told him that we have met people from literally all over the world but he was the first Iranian. He was with his wife, mother in law, two kids and sister and brother in law and owned a plastic factory in Iran. He really wanted to talk, so I just kept asking questions. I asked him how he felt about the US going into Iran and he said he thought it was a good thing. I said “Really? How do you feel about how things went when they went into Iraq?” Lana almost fell out of her seat.

He was a bit hard to understand as he spoke very quickly with a heavy accent but I got that he thought the Iraqis were crazy and the Americans going in was a good thing too. He said something about changing his religion and that the Iraqis have more than one wife and treat women very badly. He only had one wife. I said my husband probably figured that one wife was enough too, to which point he and his entrourage all laughed. Our stop was here all too soon and I am sorry that I didn’t have the foresight to arrange a coffee date with him tomorrow. He told me that he normally does not talk religion or politics but wanted to talk about it to me for some reason.
We agreed it was too early to go to the room so ventured out to wander the streets looking at the many shop vendors and just people watching. A left turn took us down a three block area where we noticed we were the only women. Young men sitting in what resembled sidewalk cafes, some alone, some with older men. In the back were nightclubs, a few doors open to see stages and young men, perhaps 17 or so although it is hard to tell with Asians they all look so young, dancing and shaking their scantily clad booties. There is a HUGE population of gay men that come here, some in couples but a lot looking for young Thai men. We saw quite a number of older men with either young Thai men or young Thai women.

We felt a little out of place so turned right and ended up on this street blocked off to traffic and everyone who had been on the beach that day was here now. It was packed! The underbelly of Phuket was here and it was a show! Girls dancing on bars, pole dancing, ladyboys and a lot of alcohol flowing. On the second floor of some of the buildings were girls in windows pole dancing. Most of them looked right out of it. A lot of blank faces and just going through the motions. At this one bar that featured Russian girls the pole dancer could barely stand up. You wonder if they are there by choice or one of the horror stories you hear about.
We were asked many times if we wanted to see a ‘ping pong show’ with young ladies. I will let you figure that one out. We stood off to the side and just watched it all go by. Young men who had too much to drink, older couples coming just to gawk at the freak show, young families which surprised us, couples and singles. You saw it all. After a bit I was feeling ill, it was just so disgusting to us. We made our way back to our hotel by way of possibly our last ‘banana pancake’ from one of the street vendors. They are sooooo good. We will miss those for sure.

This morning is our last day of our vacation. We have to leave at 5AM tomorrow to fly to Bangkok and then our Cathay flight back to Vancouver. We lazed by the pool reading, I worked on this blog, and we will go out to see about some last minute shopping and pedicures this afternoon.

We had an amazing trip, we all got along well and three seemed to work out better than four in a lot of cases. It is hard for us to believe that it has only been four weeks, we have done so much since we arrived. We also know that after we return home it will feel like it was a lifetime ago since we were here too. We can always relive it looking at our pictures and this diary however.

Thanks for all your comments and coming along with us.

Posted by debbep 06:54 Comments (2)

Phi Phi Island is amazing

Last night was another tropical storm with thunder lightning and torrential rain, but once again we woke to a warm and somewhat overcast day.
We enjoyed a delicious full breakfast before being picked up in our long tail boat at 9:30AM. After a brief stop to pick up our snorkel gear we head out to Bamboo Island. The waves were a bit choppy so just Jane and I went in snorkeling this time. I wore my capris and long sleeve shirt as I was still sunburned from two days ago. This was even better snorkeling than before. The fish were bigger and more colorful and far more abundant. We saw huge sea cucumbers, giant clam like creatures with colorful mouths that opened and closed when fish passed by. We were just in awe of it all. There are hundreds of colorful fish swimming all around you and huge black spiked sea urchins below, crabs, and fish that are purple with yellow mouths, blue and yellow stripes, florescent orange and blue. I felt like we were in the Vancouver Aquarium tropical tank.

After an hour we headed to the beach on Bamboo Island which was miles of white sand fringed by large palm trees. It is a marine preserve so no food stalls or sellers there only picnic areas and washrooms. You can camp over night for a fee which looked like a great place to stay. We walked the beach a bit and then got back into the boat and headed for Mosquito Island. It was quite a bit calmer here so Lana came in with us. Once again it was amazing, and different from the other place we had been. There was so much broken coral here and lots of brain coral and some that was coming back as we saw smaller ones that were bright blue and pinks. Apparently what happened was that a couple of years ago the water heated up so much that it killed all the coral in Southern Thailand, it was a very unusual event and we cant get any answer as to what exactly happened. It is coming back however.
beach in front of our hotel

beach in front of our hotel


jane and I snorkelling

jane and I snorkelling

lobby of our hotel in phi phi

lobby of our hotel in phi phi


view from our balcony in phi phi

view from our balcony in phi phi

Unfortunately the colors dont show up well in these pictures, they get washed out on this site.

This spot unfortunately had millions of tiny little jellyfish. We would get to areas where they were so thick you could barely see anything and then a few feet later they would be gone. They just stung a little bit but after a while we decided to get out of the water and head back to our hotel.

After we freshened up and had a fantastic lunch at our hotel we spent a few hours at the pool reading and swimming. We walked to our neighouring beach and discovered this wonderful resort called Viking Nature resort which built the cabins all around the trees and looked like a fantastic place to stay, and very inexpensive too.
We headed into Phi Phi town later on and had a wonderful dinner, did a bit of shopping for more stuff we don’t need and then a drink at a bar with live music on the beach. Our guide for the day was working at the bar, ‘Boy’ was his name, ( really cute young man around 26 or so).
We arranged to have him take us out for the day again tomorrow. We stayed up into 11PM tonight! That’s a record.

Jan 21, Jane woke up to the chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ this morning. 38 again!!! After breakfast we went to the beach to wait for our boat guide and by 9:30A he was not here yet. Another fellow came up and offered us the same trip for less than half the price so we went with him. It took around ½ hour to get to Phi Phi Ley island and headed to the other side. There was this HUGE yacht anchored and we were quite intrigued as to who may have owned it. It was absolutely massive.
who's ship is this

who's ship is this


Maya Bay is where the scene from Leonardio De Caprios movie the “Beach”. It was an absolute zoo with the amount of people and boats there, I think the number one tourist site in southern Thailand, but absolutely stunningly beautiful. We got off and walked around for a bit and then headed to another area to snorkel. The waves were really high with all the big boats and ferrys going by so we didn’t stay long and headed to another spot which was a bit calmer. Every place we go is so different and I am just loving this snorkeling. The coral coming back here was greens and blues and we saw new varieties of fish.

Maya Bay Phi Phi

Maya Bay Phi Phi


us in maya  bay

us in maya bay


our boat at maya bay

our boat at maya bay

The afternoon was spent on lounge chairs by the beach under umbrellas and it was pure heaven. There was a bar at our hotel that played Dance Music really loud, like in a night club. Boom Boom Boom…and kids dancing and drinking out of pails all afternoon. It was quite entertaining

We are now getting ready to go out on the town for Janes birthday. Not sure where, but looking for some place with good food and music.

Posted by debbep 07:02 Comments (2)

Thailand

30 °C

A flight from Yangon to Bangkok then another to Krabi Thailand followed by a ½ hour cab ride to the boat pier and then a long tail boat to our new home for the next three nights. After the boat dropped us off close to shore we had to wheel our luggage down a path and then on the sand until we found our hotel. Our cabin was the last one down this long winding pathway lined with palm trees and tropical plants. It was so hot and humid we were drenched by the time we got to our room. Jane and I got unpacked and had our bathing suits on in five minutes flat and hit the pool. The water wasn’t really refreshing as it was almost warm but felt great. We headed to the beach for a walk on the sand that is white with the many small pieces of coral and shells . You can walk out in the water for a long time before you are up to your waist and the water is almost tepid. Close to shore it is actually hot.

We only have a fan in our room and it was so hot last night but we survived. A swim in the pool after a great and extensive breakfast was then followed by another long walk on the beach. We are really enjoying the fresh and clean air. Railay beach is well known for rock climbing and there are people from all over the world here to climb the steep faces of these jagged rocks. The water is a turquoise blue and the limestone karst rocks jut out over the landscape. It is breathtaking.
railay beach

railay beach

It is however noisy. There are many long tail boats all lined up in front of our hotel waiting to take tourists to various other beaches and snorkeling spots. It is a very popular spot for Europeans and many families with young children.
We decided to do an evening boat trip which left at 2:30PM. There were 12 Chinese who couldn’t swim and 9 others from all over the world. They put all the Chinese folk on one long tail boat and us on the other and we headed out to sea to one of the rocks jutting out of the water. We all got our snorkel gear on and spent the afternoon at three different snorkeling spots. The water is so warm and extremely salty, you float very easily. Lana has not been snorkelling for years but did really well. The fish were very colorful and interesting but unfortunately the coral was pretty much dead. The tsunami, tourists and boat anchors have killed a lot of it. So too has the heat in much of Thailand. The last couple of years the water temperature has risen a fair amount and bleached the coral. Jane and I both got stung by a jelly fish but it didn’t hurt for too long We headed to another beach to watch the sunset and then were served dinner. There were many huge bats flying over head, they looked like Eagles with a three foot wing span.

Night snorkeling was next on the agenda. We went to a spot behind one of the rock formations so as not to have any lights and jumped in the water with our snorkel gear on. The phosphorous was amazing. It was like little twinkle lights everywhere. I have seen phosphorous many times before but nothing like this, and never snorkeling. It was pretty cool.

It was a very long day however and we were very glad to wash all the salt and sand off in the evening.
railay beach

railay beach


our cabin on Railay Beach

our cabin on Railay Beach

Day 21. Today we chartered out own long tail boat and headed out snorkeling again to a different spot. We left close to an hour after all the other boats so when we arrived most of them were ready to leave. Before long we had the place to ourselves. Our driver had an old ladder that he hung over the side and we would fall off the side to go in and climb up the ladder to come back onto the boat. This place was amazing, the fish were so colorful and abundant and the coral had a lot more color. We spent over an hour there and were just mesmorized. The water was an emerald green and so clear you could see down for many meters. Back into the boat and off to Hong Island. We really weren’t sure what was there but that is where all the tours go so we thought we would check it out. Wall to wall long tail boats on the beach. Yes it looked like a beautiful beach but not what we were looking for so he drove around the island instead to show us all the limestone formations and hangings. It was very cool but we asked him to take us back to the first snorkel site. I think he thought we were nuts, he kept checking with us and we were adamant to take us back. The second time was even better. We went out further to some reefs and saw fish we had not seen before. These small yellow and black striped fish would come right up to your mask and check you out. We would stay still and there would be schools of tropical fish all around us. It is such an amazing world under the water we were just thrilled and we were the only ones there too. I saw this really cool fish close to the surface, about a foot or more wide that I thought was a puffer fish. I called out to Jane to come and see and just before she got there I realized it was a huge jelly fish! I yelled “Jane go back!” We both swam so fast I think we set a record. Another hour there and we were like prunes and unfortunately my sunscreen was not waterproof and the back of my legs are very sunburnt. Fortunately I had a long sleeve shirt on so it was just my legs.

Back to our hotel and a quick swim shower and freshen up and then a hike to the other side, Railay beach East. We are on Railay West (I think that is how it goes). We came to an area where they were rock climbing so watched that for a while. Some of them go up shelves and look like contortionists. You have to be in amazing shape to do this and everyone we saw were all under 30. A couple we met on the boat last night were from Switzerland and climbing places like this all over the world for the next year. They were a very adventuresome couple.
The path to the right took us past some fantastic limestone caves and formations until we came to a beach where there were lots of people swimming. We were dying to go in the water too as we were drenched but were wearing our street clothes. The temperature is only around 85 but the humidity is 100%. You cant dry your clothes on the line because it is so damp. There were lots of monkeys on the trail happily eating bananas that people were feeding them. One mom and her two little babies were especially cute and there were other monkeys that had these huge eyes with white rings around them and very adorable.
limstone caves

limstone caves


We needed a cold drink in the worst way so headed for the fancy hotel beside ours and ordered some Singha beer. He even brought it in an ice bucket which was great so we used the ice to cool down. There was a wedding reception happening on the beach so we ordered dinner and sat and gawked at that for a few hours. The sky was turning black however and getting darker and darker. Then the rain started. The wedding party ran indoors to finish off which was a shame as it looked so beautiful on the beach.

I am now sitting in our room listening to the torrential rain outside. There has been hours of thunder and lightning too, lots of sheet and fork lightning. It looked really cool on the beach to see the sky light up with the forks of light coming down. We are very relieved that we were not out on the boat tonight instead of last night.

aqua water krabi

aqua water krabi


sunset at railay beach

sunset at railay beach

Posted by debbep 05:55 Archived in Thailand Comments (2)

Reflections of Myanmar

Eighteen nights in Burma/Myanmar has come to an end. A few people have asked if I thought it was similar to other Asian countries I have visited. There are similarities of course, but overall Myanmar is its own place. It is not a country that you can just show up on a whim, research and planning should be done ahead of time. The money is an issue, having to make sure that you have enough perfect USD for the duration of your trip as no ATMS travelers checks or credit cards work here for foreigners. The tourism has gone up 25% last year and they expect it to rise another 25% this year. The problem is that the Country does not have the info structure to support any more tourists. As it is most flights are full as well as the hotels. You are best to book ahead of time or you could find yourself without a room or flight. There in lies another problem as you can’t book these yourself as they don’t take credit cards, or rather your credit card company won’t let you use it in Myanmar, or your bank for that matter. You are best of to use a travel agent based in Myanmar who will book your hotels and flights, then you wire a deposit to their bank in Thailand. And then there is the visa process. All of this is supposed to change in the near future and become easier for tourists as they want to encourage tourism and putting on a façade that things are changing in the country so that people will come.

What I loved about Myanmar:

The people were wonderful. We never heard a cross word or met anyone who was not helpful. Everyone was completely genuine and wanted to help us at all times.
A smile was always returned with a smile and a wave.
The sights, the temples, the ruins and the lake. The scenery was breathtaking.
We learned so much about the history and the people of Myanmar
We felt safe at all times and well taken care of.
What seems like chaos when you arrive you quickly realize that it is a dance and it all works.

What I did not like about Myanmar

The noise, the smog the smoke from the constant burning and the dust
We preferred the countryside to the cities, not liking Mandalay or Yangon.
Whenever we told someone at a restaurant or hotel that we were from Canada they would put on Justin Beiber songs.
The fact that the country is rich in natural resources such as oil, precious gems and minerals, but the Government (Military) sells them all to the Chinese and does not share any of the wealth with the people of Myanmar.
That the people can not speak out without fear of going to jail.

In summary we had an amazing time in Myanmar and so glad that we came.
So now it is on to Thailand for some R and R for the next 8 nights.
[img=http://photos.travellerspoint.com/341001/3puppets.jpg caption=puppets

Posted by debbep 05:52 Comments (1)

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