Koh Phi Phi: Never Never Land

~By:  Julie

Sometimes you come across a place so magical that it changes your life forever. The first time I went to Phi Phi, I knew immediately that not only did I belong there but that I would be back as fast as I physically could. I was right, not even 4 months later I booked another trip and extended my stay. From the time you see the island from your boat in the distance, you know this place is different. It’s the energy, the beauty, the people; it’s magical. There are no cars and no motorbikes, which in itself sets it apart from the rest of Thailand.

Whether you are going to Phi Phi to escape from life, to honeymoon, to party, to explore; there is literally something for everyone. I think I’ve been maybe 5 times and I still have so many things on my to do list. I’ve done the half moon parties, I’ve hiked to the viewpoint, I’ve done the day trips to Monkey Beach and Maya Bay. I’m hoping this year to swim with the glowing plankton at night.

Whether you come in from Krabi or Phuket, you need to know the ferry schedule. The ferries stop running early. I made this mistake the first time and trust me, I will never make that mistake again. I don’t really do mornings but I guarantee you that unless you wanna spend the night in Krabi or Phuket, you better get your butt on that early flight or you will be stuck paying 70 USD a person for a speed boat in the middle of the night and I’m gonna put that into category of the dumbest and scariest things I’ve ever done. We just wanted to be there and we had already booked this amazing 5 star hotel and we didn’t want it to go to waste.

They say hind sight is 20/20… I’d have to agree. I feel extremely safe in Thailand, almost all the time. Regardless, you have to use your street smarts and intuition. When the sun was up the speed boat seemed like a great idea. Once the sun went down and we were slamming over the waves in pitch black dark and holding on for dear life as the wind and water smacked us in the face, we realized maybe we made a terrible mistake. At some point I realize there are only 3 of us girls and 3 local boat guys and my brain got the best of me. We’ve never even been to Phi Phi yet so we had no idea where we are going, if we would recognize it if we saw it, if these guys were gonna sell us as sex slaves and no one back home had any real idea where we were at all either. I sat there on the boat speeding through heavy waves in the Andaman sea, thinking about how I’m probably gonna go pretty cheap as a sex slave cause I’m over 30 and I have way too many tattoos and piercings marking up the goods. I’m thinking how I fell the night before in Bangkok down wet stairs on Khaosan Road and my entire left butt cheek resembles a giant nebula of a bruise.

What felt like a lifetime (probably 4-5 hours) later, I saw what I prayed was Phi Phi in the distance. I never understood kissing the ground before, until then. All that said, I highly recommend the morning ferries where you can drink, relax, claim a spot to sun bathe for a 2 hour ferry ride and make friends from all over the world. We were so unprepared. Besides booking a hotel, we didn’t really know much else. When you get off the boat there are HOARDS of people with signs trying to get you to book a room at their hotel. This is the trip we learned that the less booking you do beforehand, the better. Apparently our hotel was WAY on the other side of the island, and after the day we had, the hike felt not just unnecessary but brutal. The hotel was worth it tho. It was so beautiful and a bed and a shower rejuvenated us enough to go explore a little night life.

Through our many journeys thru Phi Phi we found a hotel we try to always stay at now. We still like the night life but also our quiet time. Right in the center of the scene is a place called Tara Inn. It’s clean, spacious,  has hot water, is quiet, and affordable. The owner always makes us feel so welcome when we come back. It feels like home. It’s located by the Banana Bar which is great for the beginning of a chill night. You climb up two stories of winding, frightening stairs and on top they have chairs and screens and show movies. Everyone eats Mexican food, margaritas, and finds a small section to get cozy for the movie.

If you aren’t interested in the nightlife, the other side of the island on Long Beach is basically honeymoon central. It’s beautiful. I’ll walk down to that end to swim and drink fresh coconuts. You can plan so many different types of excursions and day trips. It’s absolutely mandatory to take a day trip to Maya Bay. A good portion of the movie “The Beach” was filmed there in 2000 but after the tsunami in 2005, you can only go there for day trips. It is the softest sand I’ve ever felt in my entire life. There is a memorial in the jungle for the campers that died. It’s really haunting.

There are plethora of good places to eat and drink. You will discover those on your own. Phi Phi is a small enough island. Everyone has been to Stockholm Syndrome, played beer pong at Dojos, danced at Slinkys, Stoned Bar, Ibiza House, and the Reggae bar (where after enough buckets of Sangsom, you will feel inspired to try Muay Thai boxing or at least watch people with absolutely no fighting skills compete against each other to win another free bucket of Sangsom.) You will absolutely end up on the beach dancing all night at Slinkys; watching the fire dancers, getting painted with glow in the dark paint, making friends, meeting future ex lovers, watching testosterone- hyped men compete to climb up wooden poles and trying to impress the women. You might even have enough buckets that you will even jump through a fire hoop or a fire blazed jump rope. Never say never and don’t underestimate the power of the bucket.

Phi Phi takes hold of you if you let it. We started making friends that had abandoned everything to move there full time. Friends who had to pass out fliers at night to pay for last nights bar tab and tomorrows hostel bed. Mornings in Thailand are my personal favorite. I love having my breakfast Chang and watching everyone crawl out from whatever hole (sometimes quite literally) they crawled into the night before. The decisions of tattoos, the lines coming out of the clinics of people with burns from the fire hoops and broken bones. None of that matters when you are in paradise. Nothing matters there. Everything is always going to be ok. It’s hard to leave. Sometimes I wouldn’t leave until we committed to a date for the next trip. You are going to have life experiences that people at home will never believe and you will make friendships that last a life time… bonded through inexplicable experiences and magic.

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