Less than 48 hours after saying goodby to team Stratford, we found ourselves back at the pier in Railey, waiting for our ferry off the island. Feeling a little sad to be leaving such a Climbers paradise but eager to start the next chapter of our journey. Getting back on the road definitely helped subdue those lingering feelings of abandonment!
📷 – gonna Railey miss ya
Together with the small crowd that had gathered at the pier, we were shepherded into long tail boats and brought out to the edge of the bay were the waiting ferry from Ao Nang would pick us up and take us to Koh Phi Phi. The ferry was just like those we've taken between Samui, Phangan and Koh Tao but as we were jumping on in Railey, we managed to grab two of the last remains free seats while the others had to sit out on the deck. For the non ginger skinned people, this was probably fine. ☀️
📷 – mission 1, find a seat
The crossing was really smooth, despite covering quite a large distance of open water between the islands and the stunning views of passing limestone islands were only broken every now and again by the odd collection of floating rubbish that happened to catch your eye.
As the ferry moves passed Phi Phi Leh and into Tonsai bay, the quiet horizon is replaced with a very busy harbour, littered with large passenger ferries, dive boat traffic and longtail boats. It's easy to see why the conservation fee of 600 baht pp has been added to all dive and boat tours, as the huge amount of daily boat traffic must be rapidly spoiling the marine life. If you're able to ignore the seemingly never ending flow of Asian tourists, the bay itself is still completely stunning, which kind sums Phi Phi up in a nutshell. A spectacularly beautiful, paradise-like landscape that happens to suffer from a growing human infestation.
📷 – industrial sized dive boat
Morals aside, we landed at the Tonsai bay docks, paid our 20baht fee to enter the island (obligatory fee for all tourists visiting) and walked across the island (away from the busier pub streets) to B-Place Guesthouse, where we managed to get a room for 600baht per night. The centre of town is made up of convenience stores, bars selling classic Thai buckets, electronics shops and little restaurants. Even in off season, the streets are busy with a blended demographic of gap year students (booking onto booze cruises and filling the bars in the evening) and family holiday goers that keep the premium resorts running.
A little walk around town convinced us that we had earned a treat and so, we accepted an Italian restaurants extremely inviting offer of any pizza or pasta for 100 baht.
We woke up early the next morning and headed straight to Shark point with our snorkel gear, just in time to spot Leopard sharks at shark point before the big tours scared everything off. At least, that's what I would have said had our plans not been totally scuppered by our irrefutable ability to ignore alarms. 😅
Instead, we begrudgingly crawled out of bed at midday, grabbed a cheap lunch and got to work planning the next few stages of our journey. There's always a need for admin days! 😒
I took this opportunity and headed to one of the nearby electronics shops to see if I could find a cure for my GoPro woes. Having looked in every hospital, pharmacy and shop for rubbing alcohol greater than 90% (to clean the corroded circuit board on my GoPro) I settled for trying to fix the broken screen on the GoPro Charlie let us borrow.
To my absolute amazement, they had a Hero 3+ with a fried motherboard and said I could have the screen for free if I replaced it myself. The guys there only do phone repairs but can send other cameras off to be fixed by technicians on the mainland. Thrilled, I spent the next few hours deconstructing and reassembling GoPros on the shops counter while the manager played the entire Linkin Park back catalogue on repeat. RIP Chester ✌🏼
With Charlie's GoPro, good as new, I also had a go at cleaning mine, after the manager managed to find a little bottle of cleaning alcohol in the back. It now turns on but overheats due to a short circuit somewhere. Quitting while ahead, I'll have another go when we're back on the mainland.
📷 – little work shop of horrors
📷 – new screen, new me 💁🏼
📷 – salt water + electronics = 😭
That evening we ate at "Clover House", a little "thai-rish" Resturant serving cheap beers and curries with a kick. 🔥
Feeling a little guilty about the mornings adjusted itinerary, we headed back for an early night. A special mention goes out to the hostel next door that hosted drinking games until 4:30 am. No sleep and no invite, do not a happy camper make but we managed a few winks in between screams of "NEVER HAVE I EVER…" 😪
The next morning we managed to thwart our bodies plan to repeat yesterdays shenanigans, making it out of bed at 8am and through the jungle to Long Beach by 9:30am.
📷 – the much more idyllic, Long Beach
The tide was low (but coming in) and while it was super choppy, the boat traffic was slow enough to get a few hours snorkelling in. Sadly we didn't manage to spot any Leophard or Black Tip reef sharks (probably needed to be there at 6am) but we had a great day of free fun, saw a lot of species, including a little family of Nemos and managed to come away with a souvenir from natures gift shop. By that I mean I had a horrendous sun burn and looked like an awkward lobster. 🦐
📷 – Mr Nemo and family
📷 – getting a closer look
📷 – Ella doing her best Angelfish impression
📷 – peekaboo
📷 – chasing parrotfish
📷 – my angelfish is less impressive
📷 – making friends
📷 – Moorish Idol (Gil)
📷 – Ella is definitely the spotter
On the way back to town, we took a slight detour, through some jungle and ticked off some of the viewpoints overlooking the bay. Our favourite was viewpoint 2, not as popular as the main one, (viewpoint 3) as it's located at the peak of an overgrown jungle path but that means you're almost guaranteed to be the only people there at the top. After a picnic of water and jammy dodgers, a good rest and some posing for photos we strolled back to town.
📷 – was actually terrified of falling the 30ft drop here
That night we ate at "Cosmic", an Italian restaurant next door to where we ate the first night. They both have similar offers but Cosmic gets pretty amazing ratings online. The reason for this is basically because, it's AMAZING! We had a four cheese pizza and a spicy meat calzone. As neither of us are Calzone people, this was a very spur of the moment decision but oh my days! What a decision it was, simply amazing! I may never look at pizza the same way again. A fitting end to a great day, we waddled back just in time to pass out from a very real food coma.
📷 – Cosmic
📷 – so much yum!
Tomorrow morning, we're up early to pack and ship out to Koh Yao Noi. Leaving the busy, tourist heavy islands behind, Koh Yao promises some of that peaceful zen we've been missing. Can't wait! ✌🏼