I am always one for giving credit where it’s due. On a recent visit to Thailand, I happened to get an opportunity to visit Phi Phi Islands. I’m sure most of you have heard of Phi Phi, if you’ve seen the famous Leonardo Di Caprio film, ‘The Beach’.
Located at a 2-hour ferry ride from Phuket, Phi Phi is best approached by ferry but for those with heavier wallets, speedboats are an option. Now as all seasoned travellers know, there are destinations and there are journeys but Phi Phi is a good blend of both. The ferry ride is spell binding to say the least. There are few pleasures comparable to sipping the local beer, wind in your hair as you cruise through the Andaman Sea, dotted with islets on all sides.
The first thing I realized upon reaching Phi Phi was how quaint it was. You can literally see around the island and it’s not too full of hotels or tourists. There is a balance between nature and tourism, which was refreshing to say the least. There are no automobiles allowed on the island and consequently you’re dropped to your hotel by boat.
I couldn’t help but notice the numerous lagoons dotting the island. The clear white sand beaches are a treat and one can spend days lounging around. The crystal clear lagoons offer an unparalleled bathing experience as you immerse yourself in warm water sans the waves. There is a single walking path across Phi Phi with the sea on one side and hotels on the other. Lines of lagoon view cafes dot the path and one can sample delicious seafood. The island is calm, it’s not a typical party place and most people are content to enjoy the food and the beer at night, and laze around the beach all day.
The secret to Phi Phi is the walk to the viewpoint. I traversed the walking path multiple times and there were various signposts saying “Viewpoint 3500m”. I asked a few locals and most of them were pretty lackadaisical about it since they wanted me to go on a boat ride, instead of walk to the viewpoint; since there was no money to be made. The path to the viewpoint takes you inside into a tropical forest. It seems easy at first but soon the hot sun and uphill ascent began to take a toll. Thankfully delicious coconut(yes amazing) water was available throughout the walk, and couple of hours later I arrived at the view point and it was worth every minute. A panoramic view of the island and the bay was a treat. And not to sound philosophical but if there are certain moments when you feel a sense of presence, when a moment becomes infinite, it was truly one of those.
Phi Phi is like a beautiful herbal tea with your favourite infusion. It’ll leave you relaxed and energetic at the same time. You’ll get up every morning, marvel at the high tide filling up those emerald lagoons and feel an urgent need to dive right in. The white sand beaches will keep you sun soaked, while the shacks provide your favourite cocktails. You will devour seafood, Chang(local beer) and gorge on the amazing fruits on offer. The coconut water is beyond compare.
The Fire shows are a regular night attraction at Phi Phi and generally involve a bunch of guys with good reflexes who swing a burnt rope around in ways that would cause you to burn your hair off if you weren’t as skilled.
All in all, you must shed those boring clothes of yours and head to Phi Phi if you can. As the loud British guys at the bar there said, “Cheers mate”.