Tuesday, 13 December 2011

In the footsteps of Leo - exploring Ko Phi Phi (Railay Part II)...

Team Taylor Deportation/Repatriation Countdown

Days left in Singapore: 10

Days left until arrival in the Queen City: 17
Team Taylor at Maya Bay - the spot where "The Beach" was filmed.
And a good evening to you from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City.  So first off - HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PAPPA!!!!!!!  Today, ladies and gentlemen, my dad hits the big 6-4.  He is celebrating not only this morning not only because of his birthday but also because of the big win vs. the Manley Eagles last night.  Full marks, dad!  The Mighty Hornets strike again. :-)  And Pattie - go get 'em tonight against my alma mater.

In workout news, the Bull contemplated the bike today but instead passed in favor of getting home to get stuff knocked out.  I felt fine with that, as a) I was tired and got ZERO sleep last night, b) really wanted sushi and was starving (I had Japanese for lunch as well, but it was smoked salmon teryaki and some folks in the office took me out and paid for it - thanks, ladies!), c) wanted to make sure I could call dad in time to catch him and wish him Happy Birthday, d) wanted to get in bed early, and e) have been packing NON-STOP.  However, I'm going to get up early tomorrow and try to pound the pavement outside again.  The goal is 5 miles, but depending on the weather, I could very well be happy with four.

But enough of that, as you're ready for the return to Railay.  Tonight we'll follow in the footsteps of the one, the only, the king of the world - Leonardo DiCaprio, as we head to Ko Phi Phi Leh - better known simply as "the beach."

Made famous by the movie, this pair of islands (Ko Phi Phi Leh and Ko Phi Phi Don, with Don being the bigger one) was once pristine and completely undiscovered.  Now, however, it is INSANITY with all the tourist boats.  Jenny and I had originally planned to spend 2 nights on Phi Phi Don and then day trip over to Phi Phi Leh, but after her evaluation of Railay with a day trip vs. staying on Phi Phi Don, we decided that an out-and-back was plenty.  And so, with that in mind, we had a quick brekkie at our place and then headed over to West Railay to catch our boat.

Now if you'll remember Jenny's posts back in October, you'll remember that all 3 of the girls came back BLACK AND BLUE like they'd been on the front line of an Alexander the Great campaign.  Granted, this was a mixture of rock climbing, REDONKULOUS hiking, and various other things, but the chief source of the bruising came from the day trip boat ride.  As we walked up, Jenny said, "Don't worry - we should be fine this time because they'll pick us up first.  As long as we don't sit in the front of the boat, we'll be okay.  That's where it's rough."  Well, as fate would have it, we were THE ABSOLUTE LAST PEOPLE PICKED UP, and it was a FULL HOUSE.  We stepped on and everyone started cackling, as there was NO WAY we could sit below deck in the shade.  The guide leads us to the front, but we notice that it is RAMMED as well.  When I say, "Um, where the hell are we supposed to sit?" (I wasn't overly friendly about it, as the tour was clearly oversold), she just starts throwing girls on laps and makes about 4 millimeters of space for Jenny and I.  I'm in the DEAD CENTER front of the boat facing backwards, with my back at an angle that I imagine space monkeys must have sat at during rocket launches.  Throw in the fact that Jenny had to throw her legs over mine, if I wanted to see anything I had to break 3 vertebrae, and the sun was already beating down, and you don't have a happy Bull and Striker.  However,  we were sitting up front with 7 of our closest German and Slovenian friends, and they were pretty hilarious, so that was worth something.  My favorite discussion en route to the islands:

Slovenian Dude (SD):  (to German Girl) "So you are German, you must love sausage."

German Chick (GC):  "Oh, yes, all German woman LOVE sausage.  I get big fat ones all the time." (The Bull suppresses snicker)

Gorilla in action, baby!!!  Look at that water.  Everywhere you looked was a postcard.
SD:  "Ah yes, Slovenians LOVE sausage.  We can't get enough of them.  My girlfriend eats them all the time.  Especially the German ones."

GC:  "Yes, there is nothing like a German sausage."  (PLEASE STOP.  Please start using pronouns or something)

SD:  "Have you had Polish sausage?  It's good, too.  As I said - you can never have enough sausage." 

It must have continued this way for a solid 5 minutes.  I was thankful for it - it was the only thing that took my mind off the pain.

Stop one was probably the highlight of the day - Bamboo Island.  This place was JUST INCREDIBLE, as it was water even more pristine than Honda Bay (and WAAAAAAAY better than Phi Phi Leh).  The water was seriously something out of a movie, with various shades of baby blue, turquoise, cobalt, and aqua marine - and we could DEFINITELY have spent more time there.  However, after 45 minutes, it was time to shuffle off again to the next destination.

At "The Lagoon" - which we didn't really get to visit.  The
boat in the picture is identical to ours - they had to turn
back as well. 
The next 2 stops were less than impressive, as we hit the Viking Cave and the lagoon.  The Viking Cave wasn't even a cave, and the tides were so low (lowest in 3 days) that we couldn't really even get that close to it.  I wasn't even sure what the hell it was or why it related to vikings (cause I'm pretty sure Erik the Red never made it out here), but I was definitely less than impressed.  Jenny had warned me that it was utter rubbish - I can confirm that's the case.  As for the lagoon, the entrance was REALLY dramatic and cool, but then we just stopped short and turned around.  When I asked why, I was told that our boat was too heavy and couldn't navigate the low tides.  I was, of course, disappointed, but I don't think it was because the boat was oversold.  Instead, I think it was because you really can only get in there with a long tail (which is how Jenny got in there last time and got to swim).  However, she again confirmed that, whilst cool, all you did was putter around for 10 minutes, take a few photos, and head back out.  Consequently, I wasn't too upset. 

Jenny Taylor's entry for the SI Swimsuit edition.
It was then over to the most famous of the destinations - Maya Bay.  This is THE BEACH used in the filming of the movie, and just like DOOK basketball, all I can say is "O-VER-RA-TED."  Seriously - picture about 3,000 people on a scrap of beach that can really only hold about 100.  Throw in a tide so low that you go all the way out to the swimming line (which you have to adhere to due to all of the boats in the bay) and you're still at your waist, and then tack on tons of boats starting up, spewing diesel, and ruining the ambiance, and all I could think was "take me back to Bamboo Island!"  Jenny had warned me that this would happen, and she wasn't wrong.  True, the entry way was AMAZING, the water gorgeous, and it was a life's to-do to cross off.  However, I was definitely underwhelmed.  There was a little walk that we did and another view point along the way, but arguably the coolest thing to see were the urinals carved out of the side of the cliff!  Talk about answering the call of nature!
Snorkeling on the back side of Phi Phi Leh.

What's healthier than a donut or ice cream?
Combining both and then putting them in
After that it was over to Phi Phi Don for lunch and a wander, followed by 2 snorkeling spots.  These 2 spots were every bit as much a highlight as Bamboo Island, as the snorkeling was INCREDIBLE.  Of course, crazy ass Slovenian dude brought bread into the water, which meant that we were SWAMPED by a basquillion fish.  He was throwing crumbs on people (like me), and the fish would just attack you like pirahnas - CRAZINESS!!!  It seriously was some of the best snorkeling that I've ever done, and Jenny was impressed as well (which is saying a lot considering that she's rocked the Great Barrier Reef on multiple occasions).
Check out that water.  the by-product of AMAZING electrical
storms on an island that lives via runoff and rivers?  BROWN
WATER for bathing.  Good times...

Enjoying a brewski at Bamboo Bar.  Those little chairs were everywhere along the water.  And no, they weren't
that comfortable.
It was then back to Railay, where we capped off the excursion with a truly delectable treat - FRIED ICE CREAM, BABY!!!!!  Throw in some iced coffee (Cuz - we were at the Flametree!), and all was right with the world.  We then walked back to the palace, where Jenny and I hit the pool for a bit before watching a MASSIVE storm sweep over the island.  We watched the cliffs just vanish in the distance and then reappear about an hour later - it was truly impressive (the electrical show was off the chain).  We then hit one of the bars on the beach for a few before wandering over to (where else?) Last Bar for dinner (in our defense, it was THE CHEAPEST by far, still delicious, and well, there aren't that many options over there).  Whilst there we listened to the musician (who was really good) and then, oddly enough, watched the Beach!  They've got it on a loop by the bar, and so we got sucked in.  I can confirm that it's still as shitty as I remembered, but at least now I have a frame of reference for the location.

We then ended the night at "Bamboo Bar" (all the bars have just 1 name - at least it makes it easy to remember), where we had a Chang, watched a fire show (as you do EVERYWHERE EVERY NIGHT in Thailand), and then crossed off another to-do:  MUAY THAI BOXING, BABY!!!  They host local competitions every other night, and we watched a 3 round match between a cat from Phuket and a joker from Railay.  It was interesting to watch, but let's just say that I'm really glad I didn't pay 400 baht to see it in Chiang Mai.

We then rolled back to the casa, where it was lights out around 11:15.  We wanted to get some rest, as the next 2 days promised to be BALLS OUT.  And as you'll see - they did NOT disappoint.  That, however, is another blog for another time (most likely Thursday).

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print.  Chat tomorrow!


Sam and (back from Elephanta Island and most likely her second dinner at Leopold's chillin' with Linbaba before her slum tour tomorrow) Jenny (and Cath)

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