After a sad goodbye to Tonsai beach we hopped on another boat and made our way to the west side of south Thailand to a very well known Island called Koh Phi Phi. This particular area of Thailand was made famous after the hit film ‘The Beach’ starring Leonardo Dicaprio was filmed there in the year 2000. Since then flocks of tourists in the thousands have descended upon this little area trying to catch a glimpse of this tiny Island portrayed in the film as pure, exotic paradise. You could say with this knowledge we should have felt prepared to see Thailand at its worst but it was still a shock when we squeezed off the boat into a sea of sweaty white bodies.
With no hostel booked as usual we inched our way through the narrow streets filled with the chatter of tourists and their screaming children along with the hassle of pushy locals trying to get us to buy something. It was defiantly not a good first impression of Koh Phi Phi but in the past first impressions had been deceiving.
We found somewhere to stay for an expensive price but due to the massive tourism boom, it seemed everything on the Island was pricey. We went for our usual walk to scope the place out. My first impressions were similar to Koh Phangan’s, trashy, tacky and touristy. We went to take a look at the beach and were disappointed with what we saw. It was scattered with boats and machinery, a far cry from the peaceful, emptiness of Tonsai beach.
In the evening the beach turned into a mini full moon party. It was fun but we had done the full moon thing and those few days were enough to last us a lifetime! There didn’t seem a whole lot to do in this place but shop, have a massage and get drunk. There wasn’t even a decent beach to lie on every day. Then we saw a sign with a rather old picture of Leonardo Dicaprio on it. It was advertising a boat trip that took you to the Island where the film was shot. We booked it for the following day.
Our boat trip started early in the morning and was jam packed with things to see, apparently. We were only really interested in seeing the Island where the film was shot. Although the boat trip claimed to include other things by this time we were aware of misleading advertisement in Asia and were not surprised when things didn’t quite pan out the way they said it would. Still it was a nice day out on the boat and we got to know some of the other tourists.
Our last stop was the ‘The Beach’ Island. We pulled up against some rocks along with about ten other boats (no surprise there) and were told we had half an hour. As we clambered off the tiny boat I looked up between the rocks at a spindly looking bamboo platform sticking out. Some old ropes had been made into a climbing net for us to use to get onto the platform. It looked like something off the film king kong in the scene where they first step onto the island. I was just waiting for a painted aboriginal to try and eat us!
We got onto the Island with no aboriginals in sight. It appeared to be uninhabited and untouched which was nice. We followed a small path that took us through a few trees and lead us to the other side of the island where the beach was.
I was disappointed to see yet more tourists scattered on the beach along with huge boats in the water. I reminded myself that everyone else probably felt the same and that we in fact were tourists ourselves. Yet at the same time I wish I didn’t have to share the experience with everyone else!
The beach was nice all the same. It didn’t look quite how it was portrayed in the movie but that’s good camera angles for you. It was a cove with a small entrance but in the film they had made the entrance look smaller and a few other things adjusted. Our half an hour was soon up so we headed back to the boat to go back.
To think I thought it was funny getting off the boat, you should have seen us attempt to get back on! The tide had gotten low so the boats couldn’t come in as far to pick us up so we all had to scramble over rocks with waves smashing us in the face, then swim to the boat! We all saw the funny side. After all this is Asia!
Later on that evening we went for some food in a lovely place recommended by some other backpackers. It was British food but god did it taste good! Nothing was traditional about Koh Phi Phi but we just ended up embracing it and started enjoying what it had to offer.
After dinner we took a walk and started chatting to an instructor at one of the diving schools. We asked him if there were any beaches better than the main one. He told us it was about a thirty minute walk through some trees along a muddy path but it was worth a look.
The following day was our anniversary and we were desperate to spend it relaxing on the beach. We decided to check this beach out recommended by the instructor. So we packed our bag and made our way through the trees to find it hoping to not be disappointed. After about a half an hour walk just like the guy said, we found a steep mud path with a rope on the side that lead to some sand at the bottom.
When we got to the bottom we were pleasantly surprised to find a lovely long beach with hardly anyone on it! The sand was white and the sea was aqua blue. Maybe this Island wasn’t so bad after all. Sometimes you have to go out of your way to find what you’re looking for and this certainly was worth the walk. We spent the whole day there up until sunset.
We spent our evening in the same restaurant having dinner which soon became our ‘local’. After the food poisoning incident on Tonsai we were wary of trying anywhere else so decided to stick to what we knew to avoid any further risks! Later on we treated ourselves to a manicure and pedicure. The ladies at the salon giggled as they filed Pete’s nails but he seemed to enjoy all the attention!
We spent the remainder of our time on Koh Phi Phi away from all of the hustle and bustle of the town. We preferred spending our days in the peace and quiet of our secret beach. It was coming near to the end of our travels and it gave us time to reflect on everything we had done. We wanted to soak up all the goodness of Asia before we had to leave and finding this beach defiantly left Thailand on a good note for us.
Our last stop took us to Singapore where we were thrown back into the modern world with open arms. Mmmmmm Starbuck’s!