Thursday, March 3, 2011

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Sorry I haven't updated Asian Kara in a while. I got back from Koh Phi Phi, Thailand late Monday night and have been busy with classes and homework since. It's Friday now - classes are over and I've just about gotten the sand and paint off my body from my AMAZING long weekend in Thailand!

Leah and I began our journey at 5 am on Friday morning. Traveling was a real pain. We took a bus, train, airplane, cab and ferry to our destination. We finally arrived in Koh Phi Phi around 1pm, Thai time. Koh Phi Phi is a small island off the coast of Phuket. It is pronounced "Pee Pee" and not "Fee Fee" or "Ph-eye Ph-eye." It embarrasses me how most Americans don't even know where Thailand is on a map so please educate yourselves. I have been in way too many arguments with foreigners about how culturally ignorant and geographically illiterate my country is. It's really annoying, especially since I know it's true.

Thailand borders Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Malaysia.
Phi Phi is an incredible island. There are no cars allowed. Most of the people who live there are from Sweden, Australia or Canada. No stores are air conditioned. The island takes thirty minutes to walk from one end to the other. The entire island is like one massive market. You can only drink bottled water - so yes, we had to brush our teeth using bottled water. The main Thai bottled water brand is Pornthip, which we got a kick out of.

woo hoooo! PORNTHIP!

We were exhausted and sweaty when we arrived to Phi Phi. We got soaking wet on our 2 hour ferry ride because we sat on the edge with our feet dangling over the boat. Upon arriving, we grabbed our bags and set out to find some pad thai. We stumbled upon to a small eatery called Mr. Tee's. Our meals cost about $2 USD each and it was simply AMAZING! We ended up eating there three times over four days. The meal completed changed our moods. We walked twenty minutes to find our beach bungalow with no issues.

Twin Palms Bungalows - located 10 steps from the beach, bar and tattoo/ piercing parlor.

No dressers, tv, computer, cell phones, air conditioning or hot water. My kind of camping!

The biggest adjustment was the lack of Asians. I have been the minority in Singapore for almost two months now. Everyone in Phi Phi is a tourist. The island is flooded with Swedes, Australians and Canadians. Leah and I were kind of overwhelmed by it at first. But once we headed to the beach and saw all the beautiful white men, we got accustomed pretty quickly. We took three hour naps in the sand before getting ready to hit the town. 

A few of our exchange friends from NTU happened to be in Phi Phi the same time us as. We ran into them at the beginning of our night and all went to the Irish Pub together. The Thai islands are famous (or infamous, really) for serving drinks in sand buckets. They cost about $4 USD and contain whatever you want. It was so fun to walk around the town and beach at night seeing people in their 20's drinking out of buckets. Since our bungalow is so centrally located, we danced on the beach all night and slept in our bungalow only 10 steps away!

Our first buckets at Jordan's Irish Pub
The fire show at the beach bar right outside our bungalow
We spent the following day (Saturday) at the beach. Since it is unbearably hot and sunny, we rented lounge chairs and an umbrella for the entire day for about $3 USD. There are food vendors lined up along the beach and bought corn, fresh shrimp and spring rolls for lunch. THE FOOD IN THAILAND IS AMAZING! Leah and I probably ate about 12 pieces of corn between the two of us. It is SO good. 

This picture sums up our ENTIRE trip.

Before dinner we began our hike up to the famous Phi Phi Viewpoint. Along the way, I stopped to get a traditional Thai foot bath. A Thai foot bath is where you put your feet into a bath that is filled with hundreds of little fish. The little fish attack your feet and legs and bite off the dead skin. Leah is scared to death of fish so she passed. I was feeling daring (and there may or may not have been cute boys watching...) and decided to give it a go. It was one of the craziest sensations I've ever felt. It tickles and is slightly painful and completely overwhelming. It is an extreme version of the sensation when your foot falls asleep. It lasted twenty minutes and I freaked out the entire time. Luckily my awesome partner-in-crime ran to get me a drink midway through.

The lady had to physically hold me down...

My feet felt GREAT when it was done though! 
Then we began our hike up to the Viewpoint. It took about forty minutes and we were absolutely drenched in sweat because of the heat, humidity and hike itself. Of course it was absolutely worth it. I have never been too much of a "nature nut," but the sight of Phi Phi from the top of the island was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. We sat on a rock's edge and just stared at the view in silence for twenty minutes. There are no words or pictures that will ever describe that moment.

The beginning of our hike

Koh Phi Phi Don, Thailand
But we can only be serious for so long. After dinner, we hit the town for round two. We discovered an amazing rooftop bar called Banana Bar. We bought our buckets (pink, this time) and chatted up some Swedish people. It turns out they were actually in a Swedish boy band which I found hilarious. The bar had free neon body paint which everyone went nuts for (okay, mostly us..) and our night began. After Banana Bar, we hit our favorite beach bar for dancing.

Loving our pink buckets

We left our mark :)

Body paint courtesy of artist Leah Sweet
We signed up for an all-day boat tour of all the Phi Phi islands and sights on Sunday. It was called "Canadian Captain Bob's Booze Cruise." Captain Bob left Canada nine years ago and has been running daily tours on his sailboat ever since. There were about ten of us total. The people we met were all in their young 20s and had taken time off from work to travel the world. We all got along great and had the best day EVER. We went to Monkey Beach (island overloaded with monkeys,) Maya Bay (from the Leo DiCaprio movie 'The Beach,') and Viking Cave. We went snorkeling, cliff diving, cave exploring and got pulled in kayaks from the back of the sailboat. We were drinking, eating, laughing, soaking in the sun and having the best day of our lives. Even though we had never met any of the people before, we all became good friends and spent the rest of the night partying together - Captain Bob too!

Getting our snorkle on

Exploring Viking Cave

One of the most amazing moments of my life.. 

Captain Bob and his crewmen

Evil monkeys from Monkey Beach

Changi beer and Thai koozies

Our backdrop for the day.. so beautiful it brought us to tears. How lame.

Can't escape the Asian tourists - they love me!
The myths and stories behind Viking Cave are absolutely incredible. Deep within Viking Cave there are carvings on the wall that experts believe prove that America was actually discovered by the Chinese before Christopher Columbus. There are thousands of sacred birds inhabited in the Cave and because it was breeding season, we were not allowed to venture inside. Captain Bob explained to us that ten years ago, the Thai Mafia overtook Viking Cave and stole the sacred bird nests. Thai tradition claims that if you eat the nests, you will live forever. The Mafia stole the birds nests and sold them for thousands of dollars. The Thai government was forced to step in and protect the Cave. Thai governmental boats are set up around the Cave and circle the islands carrying MACHINE GUNS! Captain Bob told us that four years ago, he got a machine gun pulled on him because the Thai government thought he was with the Mafia. Later on when we were snorkling, we were actually approached by a Thai government boat. Yes, they had guns. Yes, we freaked out. And yes, everything was fine - it was just a routine check up. 

Exploring the cave on land and under water!
Our last night we realized we had not bought any souvenirs. When you live next to a tattoo/piercing parlor, it is only a matter of time before you get tatted or pierced. Don't worry family, we chose the latter. I got my second cartilage piercing and Leah got her bellybutton pierced. It is the perfect souvenir because we will always have Phi Phi with us. We spent our last night like we spent every other night - bucket in hand, body painted, dancing on the beach with foreigners. It was a trip I will never forget.

Chilling at our neighbors and showing off our piercings.

One last thing to leave you with...



  1. YOU crack me up, sweetie!!! Keep soakin' in all of that culture!!!

  2. Loved reading this and seeing all the photos! I am living vicariously through you ha!!! xx00