Since I'm currently working at a university in China, I get the Chinese New Year off! That's SIX WEEKS of holiday time. I'll take it :) Being already in the Eastern hemisphere, and with so much time to kill, my roommate and I decided to take a month and visit some sights in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Enjoy the second installment of that decision involving Koh Phi Phi, Thailand:
Koh Phi Phi
Originally, we were going to head to Koh Samui for the famous full moon parties. But trust me, you can party any where in the world and it's honestly the same story. So we had heard a lot of good things about the nearby Phi Phi island and decided to go there instead. Flexibility is key!
We booked last minute at Marine Hostel. Not the best, but not the worst. The price was right (super cheap) and we were a five minute walk from the beach (which isn't saying too much really because Phi Phi is so small pretty much everywhere is that close).
Let's backtrack a bit. First, we got a cab from Patong Beach to the pier in Phuket Town on the other side of Phuket island. From there, we paid 1,000 baht for a roundtrip ferry to Phi Phi. Tip: to save money, don't get the roundtrip. Buy the return ticket on Phi Phi, where the price is only 300 baht. Saves you 200 baht. To save more money I would suggest getting snacks before you're trapped and hungry with inflated prices on the pier or ferry.
You will be asked to pay a 20 baht "maintenance of the island" type of fee when you get off on Phi Phi, which seems kind of scammy since no one mentioned it (at least not in English), but I think it's okay. There will also be people there to give you directions to your place. We tried to brush them off, because we were so used to people trying to sell us things. Whoops.
On the ferry we met Cat and Elisa from California. Cat is a hairdresser with a wicked awesome Miley-type cut that looks much better than Miley's. And cool tattoos too. Elisa plays hockey and was on her way to do so in France after this trip. They got cool matching tattoos on Phi Phi.
Phi Phi was our first introduction to fire dancers! They're all over the islands. I don't care how touristy it is, these guys are cool. We would get cheap drinks from the convenience store by our hostel and head to the beach to watch them. Tip: the closer to the beach/party you get, the more expensive everything is. Stock up farther away. Loud music, dancing, neon paint, buckets of alcohol, all right on the beach. It's a fun time. Check out Banana bar with a cool rooftop or the boxing bar where you can get a free bucket if you're feeling brave and wanna fight your buddy.
We met Sonya and Heather from Canada, who had been traveling together for a while. Heather looks out for Sonya, and they're both sweet girls. We also met a passle of British guys who liked to hit on all of us. The kind of guys that made me try to slap one. But to redeem the country, we also met 3 British guys (Tom, Matt, and Jamie with dad Mark) traveling with their dad who were super cool and danced with us WITHOUT being handsy and rescued us from the handsy ones. God bless those kinds of guys.
During the day we chilled on the beach and ate huge slices of pizza. Because sometimes you just get a hankering. One morning I hiked up to the viewpoint to catch the sunrise. I totally missed the turn off and hiked the way long way around, but I needed a workout. It's 30 baht to get to the actual viewing part. DON'T FORGET YOUR WALLET. I may or may not have had to beg a nice Korean couple to help me out so my hike was not in vain. I paid them back. We also rented a Kayak for an hour and paddled around the edge of the bay to monkey beach. As the name would suggest, it was SWARMING with monkeys. Who really like to steal your stuff so watch out.
We met a sweet girl in our hostel from Germany traveling by herself for 4 months. She got a tattoo that says family in Thai. We also met Laura from the Netherlands who went to monkey beach with us. This is why hostels rock.
We also met an Italian guy who's a boxer and was going to start training in Muay Thai, or Thai boxing. And Mike the German who doubled us in age and coolness. He's been traveling for ages and still loves it. He had great stories.
We took the ferry back and stayed overnight in Phuket Town (at Journey Guesthouse, not the best location but very inexpensive and clean. Would totally recommend,) so that we could start our journey across to Koh Tao early the next morning. We were in a convenience store getting water when a local driver, Tommy, started talking to us. He mentioned a weekend night market and offered to take us. Add to the list of shadier things I've done: hop on the back of some guy's bike after just meeting him. When he didn't go to the market with us and offered to wait to take us back, we realized he may ask for payment later. But he never mentioned that before....long story short we didn't pay him and it was only kind of awkward. And the market was cool, especially the food vendors!