Scuba diving and the backpacker ghetto
01.04.2008 - 05.04.2008
A 2-hr ferry ride to the South of Phuket is Koh Phi Phi. Koh Phi Phi is actually two islands—North and South Phi Phi. North is inhabited; South is not. Both have great beaches, but the South has the stuff that makes for dreams. This is where you're greeted in crystal clear, blue waters. Even as the ferry is arriving at the dock, you can look down from the boat and see fish swimming underneath. Incredible!
Phi Phi is one of the areas that was most extensively damaged by the Tsumani in 2004. Considering the geography of the island, its easy to imagine how scary and terrible the event must have been for those here. At one point in the North island, it's only about a 5 minute walk between its Eastern and Western beaches with some development in between. Probably only a few feet above sea level along this 5 minute path. Elsewhere there are incredible hills, but much of the development is around the sea, of course.
Today, Phi Phi is supposedly back to how it was pre-Tsunami. Its a backpacker ghetto of sorts with limited living space for locals. The backpacker area isn't quite 4 stars territory but its not unpleasant. And while we didn't party with the kids till the wee-hours of the night, we rather enjoyed the bars, restaurants, etc.. on the island.
Among the highlights was our snorkling trip to several of Phi Phi's beaches and few stand-alone islands. We visited Maya Bay which, if you ever come to Phi Phi, you'll learn is where Leo DeCaprio's The Beach takes place. I'm sure you've not seen the movie; Patty and Ren hadn't either until coming to Phi Phi. (btw., don't bother to watch it). However, the scenery is amazing and yes, its real and really beautiful. The water is blue as blue can be. Fish everywhere. That was my favorite place to snorkel until the next stop, and the next and so on. Perhaps the highlight is Bamboo Island—a tiny little island with sand all around it. It almost doesn't seem real. Turns out you can camp there too.
Ren also went SCUBA diving in Phi Phi. ½ day 'discovery” course. Some very limited training and before you know it you're told to jump into the water equipment strapped on. At about 5-6 meters depth, you practice adjusting your depth level, blowing out water from your mask, placing the air regulator in and out-of your mouth and then you're off. Better be comfortable; definitely not for those who feel unsure underwater. Visibility was probably about 10-20 meters. We dove as deep at about 15 meters. Ren thoughts, “I focused on surviving so I don't recall much other than just the WOW! I'm underwater! I'll definitely do it again--no doubt. Much better than skiing.”
Food was quite nice at Phi Phi. Since the island has so many backpackers, backpacker prices reigned supreme. And we watched the above mentioned The Beach movie at one of the bars. Movies at the bar are among the common night activities. Seems that every other place was playing a Will Ferrel movie. Our favorite food joint was Cosmic. Surprisingly good pasta and pizza.