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Virtual meanderings

Tag Archives: Koh Phi Phi

All good things come at a price – a boat ride to remember

It was 8’15 AM. The final minutes of my stay on Koh Phi Phi were flying away. I was at the water-taxi stop at Long Beach – waiting for the water taxi to take me to the main pier. The passenger boat to Phuket would leave at 9, and next I’d take a return flight to Bangkok. I was leaving Thailand. Early next morning me and Kara, the American I’d met in Bangkok, were to leave for Cambodia (Angkor Wat, here we come).

Robert, the German guy with whom we’d shared the bungalow for the last 4 days was leaving for another Thai island later today, soon followed by the French couple – Charles and Adeline.

During the boat ride to the island four days ago the weather had been great, the ocean – smooth and the boat ride – a pleasure. But today it was very cloudy since early morning and rain was falling on and off.  Still, the waters at the Long Beach looked innocent. The first hint that it might not be so came at 8:30 when instead of the water-taxi, a Thai guy showed up on foot and told us to pick our stuff and follow him back to the next bay. His claim – the waters were too bad for the water taxi to dock at Long Beach. I’d heard the same story a couple of times already – especially when boat drivers did not feel like going to Long Beach to deliver just a passenger or two – so I did not pay much attention. Cursing silently that if they just kept wasting our time like that the Phuket boat could leave without us, we oblidged and duly followed. We walked the path up the old tree with the stairs carved into its roots – with our heavy bags and stuff.

Up the tree we went

Up the tree we went

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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? Read more of this post

A dinner at Papaya (sans the papaya salad)

Getting from my Chiang Mai hostel to my Koh Phi Phi bungalow had taken a full 24 hours, and had been full of excitement. Here’s the breakdown for you:

Red truck ‘taxi’ from hostel to Chiang Mai bus station – 80 baht
Overnight bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok – 660 baht
Taxi from bus station to BKK airport – 290 baht
Airplane from Bangkok to Phuket – 2800 baht
Taxi from Phuket airport to boat pier – 100 baht (after splitting the price in 4)
Passenger boat from Phuket to Ko Phi Phi – 500 baht
Water taxi to Long beach – 100 baht

Perhaps I should add  – being able to get some rest after all that – priceless.

It felt like participating in some episode of “By any means”.

By Any Means with Charley Boorman

By Any Means with Charley Boorman

In case you do not know the show, actor Charley Boorman is trying to get from Ireland to Australia – by any means of transportation. In the bottom of the screen there was a ‘types of vehicles used’ count, and it ended up well above hundred. Boats, cars, trucks, carts, bikes, scooters, animal riding, tuk-tuks, as well as some unique local designs that are beyound describing.

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The long way to Long Beach, Koh Phi Phi

This post came out somewhat long, but it is the shortest I could make it without compromising on the fun of getting from Bangkok to my destination Long Beach on Koh Phi Phi island.

Round 1

    I got from Bangkok to Phuket flying AirAsia.com (a low-cost airline carrier operating in several South Asian countries). Essentially, this flight was my giving up on my intention to only travel by land after arriving in Asia. It only took me a week to change my mind on that one. Reason: the recent experience with taking the bus from Bangkok to Chiangmai and all the other minor traveling issues.. The airplane ticket cost under $100, and the journey would only take a couple of hours (with the airport wait). And taking a bus? 14 to 16 hours (not counting other possible problems).

Approaching Phuket

Approaching Phuket

How was my flying? Excellent. The airplanes were all new, the service – good, the prices – reasonable (especially if you buy at least a week in advance, an art that I never seem able to master). Booking online had been fast and easy – no broken English, no last-minute surprises, no additional expenses.
Round one:  me – 1, friendly tourist agents – 0.

Now there I was at Phuket Airport, with little clue how to get to neighboring island Koh Phi Phi’s Long Beach. I knew that I needed to get from the airport to the boat pier somehow, take a ferry to Koh Phi Phi from there, and – once at Koh Phi Phi – take a so-called water-taxi to the Long Beach area itself. Three separate rides meant at least three chances to get ripped off. Now, bear with me and you will learn how successful I was navigating my way through those treacherous waters. Read more of this post