No trip to Phuket is complete without at least one trip out to one of the islands. Our island of choice was Phi Phi, stopping off at Monkey Island en route.
We were slightly concerned as to which day to book for our little jaunt as we were there in the middle of the rainy season and had been riding our luck for the whole of the first week with no rain in sight. You could bet your bottom dollar that the day we decide to take to the high seas, there’d be a tropical storm.
We awoke to bright blue skies (yippeeee), had an early breakfast and boarded the minibus to the port where we met with our fellow passengers and designated speedboat.
Then the skies changed.
A dark grey followed by an even darker grey (bordering on black) sky descended on us. Followed by rain…warm rain but rain all the same. The winds then decided to join in. Things weren’t looking good, and we’d not even boarded the boat yet. I made a quick dash to the souvenir shop, bought a 50 baht (about a pound) pac-a-mac and popped it on over my bikini and shorts. The fashion police would have had a field day but least I was going to be dry.
We got on board, took our seats and were handed sick bags for our 45 minute journey. Sick bags?!! Oh my Gawwwwd!!
I needn’t have worried too much. Yes the sea was slightly choppy but the nearer we got to our destination, the kinder the weather became. The clouds parted to reveal glimpses of blue and the winds subsided. The sick bag wasn’t required!
Our first port of call was Phi Phi Leh, a rugged uninhabited island about 1.5 km from the main island of Phi Phi Don. It is the smaller of the two islands and is protected on all side by stunning vertical cliffs capped with green foliage and surrounded by small sandy beaches and tropical coral seas.
At the northeastern tip of the island, Viking Cave (Tham Phaya Naak) is a big collection point for swifts’ nests. The nests are made by birds from their saliva and harvested from February to April by collectors who climb up the bamboo scaffolding to gather the nests. Before ascending, they pray and make offerings of tobacco, incense and liquor to the cavern spirits. The nests sell for many thousands of dollars per kilo and are used for the Chinese delicacy bird’s nest soup. This cave gets its misleading name from 400-year-old graffiti left by Chinese fishermen of boats resembling Viking ships.
Our next port of call (and my favourite) was Monkey Beach, a small cove that the boat had to reverse into to give us our view of these cheeky little chappies…
We weren’t allowed off the boat but the monkeys were certainly allowed on!!!
From here we were taken to an area where we anchored up and given an hour’s snorkeling opportunity. Or rather, the majority were allowed to snorkel. I opted to stay on board, precious camera in hand, shooting away at the scenery and the fish. Lots of fish.
Snorkeling finished, we headed to the main island of Phi Phi Don, where we were stopping for lunch along with countless other boats. I declined lunch…it looked less than appetising but after my other half had fed his face, we had a bit of a nosey around the immediate area in the little time we had there…
The glossy leaflet we had booked the trip from had specified that we would be calling at Maya Beach (where the movie The Beach was filmed) on our return trip to Phuket. Unfortunately, due to high tides/weather/accessibility, we were unable to stop off there but were taken to Kai Island instead. It’s a small island with no accommodation but locals have targeted the thousands of visitors and have installed row upon row of deckchairs and parasols. There’s also a bar/eatery kind of place and something that loosely resembles toilets, that I decided not to visit! But I guess most people ignore distraction that is a blot on the horizon and choose to enjoy the white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. The Mr went off in search of Nemo while I wandered in between hundreds of tourists and deckchairs before plonking my bum on an available area of beach and catching a few rays. In the distance, I could see the divide in the sky and the black clouds were heading our way once more. Our time on the island came to an end just in time to avoid the downpour.
This trip was one of the highlights of our holiday although if I’m ever lucky enough to visit again, I would probably charter a boat and get there earlier in the day to avoid the crowds and I’d spend longer exploring all the beautiful islands at a more leisurely pace.
Till next time…Liz x