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Koh Phi Phi

November 13 continued ...

The 48 km boat ride from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi took two and a half hours. 

Getting off the ferry we were once again mobbed by salespeople hawking hotel rooms.  There is a wide variety of accommodations on the island in all price ranges.  Even more will be available in a year with all the rebuilding that is underway following the tsunami clean-up.  We settled on View Point Resort.

The lady who collared us coming off the ferry guided us across the sand where the tsunami had done its damage and up a hill to the View Point Resort which had not been damaged but whose guests would have had a grandstand view of the disaster.  
View Point Resort  agreed to give us one cottage for the night and change us to a better view for the second night. 
After settling in, we headed back across the beach wading in the incoming surf and into town.
Virtually all signage is in English.  The main businesses seem to be restaurants, internet cafes, day trip sales, ferry tickets, massage and hair salons (extension braids are popular) and souvenir stalls.
The scuba-dive shops seem to all be manned by Aussies.  The town is much more extensive than we had thought it would be or thought it was at first glance from the ferry dock. 

We had dinner at H.C. Andersen, checked our email and walked back to View Point Resort by moonlight.  

November 14

It is understandable why Koh Phi Phi suffered so much damage because of the tsunami.  The island is like two islands joined together by a low, narrow strip of land and sand between two large bays.        

The narrow strip is almost at sea level and supports most of Koh Phi Phi’s homes and tourist facilities.  The tsunami simply swept from one bay to the other, wiping out what lay between.  The rebuilding process is underway and these resilient people are making the best out of a heart-breaking calamity.   
Our packed bags were left by the door of our cottage.  Staff would move them from cottage 49 to 43.  Both have identical floor plans but 43's view of the bay is less obstructed by trees.  

We walked back towards town and talked with a gentleman who was painting the hull of a long-tail boat. 
He told us if we wanted to go out on a tour and snorkel, we could do it for 900 Baht ($22 US) for three hours.  We had looked in town the night before at tours.  They cost about 600 Baht per person but would provide lunch, water, tea and coffee on board for the 25-50 passengers they carried.  

We had a nice big breakfast at the Pando Resto and went back to our fellow on the beach.   

Besides not having to jostle around so many other tourists, by going on our own, we could set our own agenda, pick our own places (with recommendations from the guide/captain) and get into places the deeper hulled, larger boats couldn’t. 

Koh Phi Phi to Koh Phi Phi Lai (some maps in English spell it Pee Pee Lay Island) we went.  Our first stop was into a small bay where he thought we would like to go for a swim.  The water wasn’t deep and the bottom was sandy.  We paddled around in the warm water and giggled with delight (well, Sherrie giggled, Terry smiled).  Such a tropical thing to be doing – swimming in a green water bay surround by tall cliffs jutting up from the water, palm trees and tropical plants while a long-tail boat bobbed in the water waiting to take us to our next destination.  Incredible!  
Just at the mouth of the same bay, he stopped again and suggested that we might like to snorkel.  We put on our flippers.  They had not suggested flippers, in fact they had made a run (literally) into town to get them for us (we paid extra).  We only used them at this one spot and quickly learned that the water was very buoyant and getting from one spot to the other without flippers was no problem at all.  A lesson learned. 

We put on our masks and snorkels and went back into the warm aqua-coloured waters.  As in Hawaii, we were once again in awe of the colours, shapes and sizes of such a variety of fish. 

Back in the boat we were off again to another of his favourite snorkelling sites.  On the way there, he took us slowly passed a huge cave.  Koh Phi Phi Lai is uninhabited except for sea gypsies.  Right now the population is ten.  Again the feeling was surreal, like looking into a cave at Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride. 

In the cave was hanging laundry, a picnic table, coolers, buckets and shelves for household items.  Their quarters were not cramped for the cave is huge and deep. 

They survive by harvesting swallow’s nests on the island which are exported to China and become the main ingredient in bird’s nest soup. One of the gypsies waved to us with a smile from his perch on a “gang plank” style extension to a pier made up of all sizes of poles and ropes.   

The next two snorkel sites were even better than the first with the fish larger and more varied.  The parrot fish was one of the largest (about 16 inches or 40 cm long) with the colouring of a fluorescent parrot and a beak-shaped mouth that is used to chip off pieces of coral.  We could hear it as well as see. 

Beautiful yellow, black and white stripped fish schooled around us.  One even nibbled Terry on the chest.  

We used up most of our three hours and left just enough time to get back to our bay in Koh Phi Phi.  We could have extended our time if we wanted more.  When we arrived the tide had gone out.  We put our things in the plastic bag we had brought with us and waded in the knee deep water about half a block to reach dry sand.
We went back to the fellow painting the boat – he had made considerable progress in our absence - and thanked him for making the arrangements.  Further down the beach we stopped at a driftwood shack that is set up as a bar and sipped on a cold beer (half the price of drinks served by View Point 25 metres away).  

After settling into #43 we changed and took off again to town.  The heat on our backs started to become uncomfortable by the time we arrived back after sunset.  All those hours snorkelling, in the warm waters, had exposed our backs to the sun.  Ouch!  We lathered each other with Aloe Vera gel and moisturizing cream ... a ritual that would take place many times over the next seven days and nights.      

November 15

A pleasant beginning to the day writing entries in the  journal while sitting on the porch overlooking the bay.

Traveled from Koh Phi Phi to Krabi on the mainland and checked into the Maritime Park and Spa Resort for four nights.  The rest of the day we took a vacation from our vacation.  

click here to continue to November 16 and Krabi ... 

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