Thursday, August 26, 2010

Koh Phi Phi Don

Koh Phi Phi Don is the largest of the Phi Phi Islands. It is almost separated into two islands, but a strand of flat land (each side has a beach suitable for swimming) connects them. When we arrived at the Ton Sai Pier, Shervin led the way through the jungle straight to Long Beach. We scurried away from the mosh pit of locals and tourists haggling for accommodation.

Ko Phi Phi Don, shot from the view point.

There's a thirty to forty five-minute hike to Long Beach. I was about to pass out while trekking through the semi-dense jungle because of the heat, also because of exhaustion from a ten-hour overnight rough ferry ride from Koh Tao to Surat Thani.

Nearby Koh Phi Phi Lei (where the film The Beach was shot), can be seen if you follow the trail along the shore.

In the midst of our hardcore pursuit of a cheap room, we came across an Iranian who was on his way to his place on top of Phi Phi Don's hills. He helped us ask around different hotels and bungalows. When I asked for a half hour rest, he bid goodbye and assured that we were on the right path.

Forcing a smile for the camera, on the verge of passing out!

I thought it would still be a long hike, turned out Long Beach was no more than ten minutes away.

We checked in P.P. Long Beach Bungalows for 300 THB a night. Our bungalow was up the hill. The place doesn't seem to be popular with tourists, at least not for those who are looking for lively bar evenings. We've only seen one other bungalow occupied. We also saw maggots underneath our pillows so we requested to transfer to yet another moldy room.

Our second bungalow.

Lunch and dinner were out of our budget because we were forced to eat at the hotels' restaurants. There are no stalls selling cheap food along Long Beach. All of them are in Phi Phi Town. We decided then to transfer to the town center the next day after our trip to Koh Phi Phi Lei.

A fellow Pinoy Couchsurfer/backpacker Poch, told us that we can arrange a snorkelling tour to Phi Phi Lei for 600 THB each. This can be done in town though, where the tour operators are. At the reception desk of our accommodation, they are offering boats for hire at 1,200 THB for three hours (snorkel gear included). We rented one since it's the same amount as the tour, plus we would be in charge of the trip's pace.

We took our bags with us since the boatman agreed to drop us off the pier, so we need not trek again through the jungle. In less than three hours, we were already done with Phi Phi Lei. As agreed, the boatman took us to the pier. We booked a room through a reservation booth just off the main port. We were told to wait for a few minutes for the pick-up service.

U.S. Guesthouse's "pick-up service".

A guy arrived with a makeshift wheelbarrow. He took our bags and told us to follow him. U.S. Guesthouse is a ten-minute walk from the pier, room is 400 THB.

We stayed for two more days in Phi Phi Town, mainly hanging out at our room's front porch. When we got bored, we climbed to the view point briefly to see the island's twin beach, and learned that it's been established as an evacuation site in case of another tsunami (the incident in 2004 claimed 700 lives).

On our last night, we slept early but was awoken by a drunk guy who entered our room by mistake. He was about to turn on the lights when I said, "Dude, this isn't your room.". He staggered out of the room and managed to close the door as he exited. We think he's from the room beside ours (judging by the way he seemed to know where the lights are) since we're the only ones in the guesthouse.

The day of our departure, we bought a new sarong. We left my old sarong in our hotel room in Koh Phangan. I think Shervin realized how upset I was for the loss that he agreed to buy another one even though it cost us 200 THB. We also figured out what my rash was at Phi Phi Don's lone pharmacy. The pharmacist was talking to a fellow Thai when we entered so we browsed their limited goods. I saw a tin bottle of prickly heat powder and it dawned on me that it could be 'bungang araw'. The pharmacist affirmed it was indeed heat rash when we finally talked to him. He advised I stay away from the sun for a while.

We didn't buy the powder from the pharmacy though because they only had the big bottle available. We found its smallest size in a grocery store for 15 THB (only 11 THB on mainland). It somehow relieved the itchy feeling, but more importantly, I stopped worrying what the weird rash was.

[This blog is part of the South East Asia in Six Weeks series which took place May-June 2009. Price of goods, transportation and so forth may already be different.]


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