The title for today pretty much sums up our activities. This was our only pre-booked excursion, a full day tour of the beautiful Phi Phi islands. In places like Greece, I prefer to avoid excursions as I am a fan of authenticity, but since there is little public transport around here it was the best option.
The tour group (Ao Nang Princess, for anyone who is interested) picked us up from our hotel and took us straight to Nopparat Thara beach, where we’d get the boat out to the islands. Since the rain here has been unpredictable as British weather, it went from sunshine to a heavy rain shower in less than a minute. I watched the Indonesians across from me get soaked whilst I rummaged about in my bag for a raincoat. However, because it wasn’t a storm (no wind, only rain), the boat headed out into open water regardless.
Of course, they wouldn’t have done this if it wasn’t safe. But it was deeply unpleasant, owing to the currents and choppy waters. I’ve never been on a speedboat before, only the cross-channel ferries from Poole to Cherbourg, which in my experience have been so calm you’d hardly know you were on a boat. This, however, was very different. Speedboats rock with the waves, but when they go at full speed, they bounce along the top of them. No effortless glide, though, as Tarryne ended up feeling quite queasy and my anxiety shot through the roof. It was all fun and games for the first ten minutes, but after that, the party stopped as we and our fellow passengers braced ourselves for a deeply uncomfortable experience.
The woman on the right about sums up my face for the whole journey.
This wasn’t the fault of our tour company, which was well-reputed. The plurality of boats on the water suggested everybody else was having the same, miserable 45 minute ride as us. When we arrived at our first destination, though, it was all worthwhile. Bamboo island is a little uninhabited island with its own coral reef, pale blue waters, and small woodlands. Almost like one of those dream ‘desert islands’ we’d all like to retreat to sometimes.
Stolen from Google Images. Our weather was a little more patchy.
Tarryne and I recovered from the rocky ride by having a little swim. Or at least we tried. You may notice in the picture that the beach is quite steep, and that’s because of the incredibly strong currents and the massive ripcurl that strikes the beach. I was knocked off my feet a couple of times by the waves, then dragged out quite some way. One wave was so powerful that it breached the steep slope, and soaked our unfortunate things. It also got sand everywhere – including some in the lining of my swimsuit. Well, what’s a beach day without sand in unspeakable places?
Another 30 minutes to the next place, which we sailed around rather quickly as it began to rain. We pulled up just opposite Phi Phi Don to do a spot of snorkelling, which was like swimming in an aquarium. Dare I say I saw better wildlife than I ever did at Elafonisi, my favourite place in the entire world? There were more types of fish, including some colourful stripy ones which didn’t care at all about swimming round people. Unfortunately this also meant a floating brown mushroom thing – otherwise known as a jellyfish party pooper – came along and freaked us all out, rather dashing our hopes for a relaxing snorkelling session.
Oh well, it meant we arrived earlier for lunch. After having consumed some spaghetti and tomato sauce the Italians would probably die from eating, we went to relax a little on the beach as the sun came out. Phi Phi Don is the only island in that area with hotels, so Tarryne and I stole some of their sunbeds for an hour to get away from the speedboats and other plebby tourists.
This view reminded me of a town in Greece my friend drove me out to once – Porto Rafti I think it’s called. The boats, the hills, and the blue sea all seemed very familiar. It was comforting, especially after our tough ride on the boat to get there. For an hour, we sunbathed and swam, and forgot about our daily worries for a sweet while.
Until we had to get back on that speedboat, of course.