Virtual meanderings

The Beach Boys

In the morning we got on Long Beach (our bungalow was 15 meters from the ocean, so we actually needed not walk far). If you ever wondered whether any of those touristy photos about Thai islands held much merit – I’ll let my own amateur photos speak:

Long Beach - a couple at dusk

Long Beach - a couple at dusk

Long Beach (look, Ma, no people)

Long Beach (look, Ma, no people)

     The welcoming morning sun, the refreshing clouds, the long stretch of sand virtually devoid of people, the feeling that the ocean and the goregous views are all yours…

    All yours… only because we were here out of season. We’d been told that during high season the beach you see empty on the photo was just as crowded as you’d expect (and prices were double what we were paying). But, wait! Didn’t I note in my previous  post that Koh Phi Phi town was bustling with foreign visitors – despite it being the low season for Thai tourism? Why were they not on these pristine beaches?

    Well, to answer this mystery I’ll have to speculate. Long Beach was 20-30 minutes of walk from the town itself – and I guess people either never discovered it existed at all, or thought it was too far. This fact could not make us – the few lucky souls around – happier.

   I already mentioned in my earlier post that “The Beach” movie was shot on an uninhabited island quite near to Koh Phi Phi.  Any fan who made it to here could go to Maya beach on a boat and spend a romantic night with their sweetheart, discover their inner selves and become one with the Universe… along with dozens more people doing that exact same thing and also getting wasted.

   The irony of it all was that in the meantime here we were at Long Beach, feeling like “The Beach” (minus Mr. DiCaprio, plus all the amenities). I am not trying to downplay the mystical “Beach” experience which I never tried myself.  Just letting you know what people who’d just returned from the Maya beach tour told me.

   “The Beach is where the others are not”  said French writer-philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, distilling the essence of the movie. OK, he died way before the film came out, so he never said that. But by knowing what he did say –  L’enfer, c’est les autres, you make your own conclusion about what he would have said.



Well-said, Jean! Mr. Sartre – the 20-th century heir to the French humanist tradition 


   Yes, Long Beach was good… and all good things come at a price (not true, but these are the words we usually say when things go wrong). And who knew it better than Charles – the guy from the young French couple, part of our ad hoc group formed at Phuket airport terminal. When he and his wife came out to join us at the beach, Charles had plaster around his arm to hold it immobilized.

   It turned out that late last night around midnight when my three companions were coming back after a fun evening out in town, Charles had slipped off and fallen down on the steep slope going towards the ocean.  Only God knows how many bruises and possibly – fractures – he would have sustained, had he fallen on the trees and stones underneath. “Luckily”, he had caught a tree branch in the last moment. I say “luckily”, because in his fall he’d hit a sharp rock and had torn open his arm – causing himself serious pain and bleeding.

   The other two people with him – his wife Adeline and Robert, my German bungalow-mate,  had managed to pull Charles back on the path and had quickly rushed back towards the nearby tourist complex – just a couple of hundred meters away. The security guards had immediately rushed Charles to the local medical center on a scooter. Net result: sixty two stitches on his arm, and some bandages. Charles was playing it cool now and said he was already feeling fine. I am sure, however, that the torn muscle must have hurt badly. Well, at least his wife was around, which was a kind of a painkiller.

    You might recall that Koh Phi Phi was one of the islands that suffered severe damage during the 2004 deadly tsunami, and the fact that portions of the path from the town to Long Beach were outright dangerous even in daylight – not to mention at night – might have to do in part with the post-tsunami infrastructure rebuilding… Maybe. Here are some photos that will give you some context:

A view from the path going to town

A view from the path going to town

A freshly-built staircase along the path to town

A freshly-built staircase along the path to town

Keeping it all clean along the path

Keeping it all clean along the path

… and this is how portions of the path nearest to Long Beach looked like. (Note: the stairs go around and up a huge old tree, its roots – everywhere around)

Long Beach path to town, evening

Long Beach path to town, evening. No, this is not spooky at night, not at all

Long Beach Path Section

You did not see this, OK?

   Talking about incidents in paradise – here is another. One of the two British girls that we’d talked to in the water taxi upon arrival to Koh Phi Phi – Amy – had shared her own ordeal with a wild monkey.  From my earlier post, you’d already know that next to Koh Phi Phi there was the neigboring “Monkey Island.” Uninhabited, and a place where thousands of wild monkeys roamed free – a tourist attraction ready to be exploited. And exploited it was. Boats with tourists would arrive daily from Koh Phi Phi, and foreign visitors would be able to hang around the tourist-spoilt monkeys and feed them (perpetuating the spoiling further). Going there for someone who came straight to Phuket/Koh Phi Phi is not unlike my visit to Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai (minus the animal keepers and the cages) – a mix of  ‘exotic’ stuff that you may not experience at home and pure boredom.

   Well, one of those monkeys liked Amy one notch too much and bit off a little fleshy souvenir. You already can guess how the rest of the story went – a rush to the local medical center, a tetanus injection and some stitches.  To the credit of the Koh Phi Phi health services in both incidents the injuries had been expediently treated.

As I said earlier in this post, it is a truism that good things come at a price. Time was nearing for me to pay some too…
…. tomorrow [building suspense in anticipation of my next post]…


One response to “The Beach Boys

  1. Pingback: Laos | La Countryside « mastercopycat

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