Monday

We woke up and checked out of our hotel in Krabi, helping ourselves afterwards to the complimentary breakfast. We had booked tickets already to go to Koh Phi Phi, an island chain a little ways south comprising of two larger islands and several small rocks. Our minivan picked us up, drove us thirty or so minutes back to Krabi Town, and dropped us off at the ferry station. The ride was two hours across smooth seas and under a sunny blue sky.

The main island is Koh Phi Phi Don and that is where the ferry dropped us off. As we sailed into port the sight that greeted us was already breathtaking: two massive mountains, practically cliffs, connected by a small strip in the middle that was the village. We walked off the ferry to find representatives from every hotel holding up signs. We looked for the guy holding up a sign for the little place that we had booked and he led us down a narrow street to a large wheel-barrow type cart which he loaded all of our backpacks into. Some guy handing out flyers managed to shove several into our hands before the guy with our cart full of bags proceeded to lead us on foot through a maze of narrow alleyways.

I liked Koh Phi Phi right away. There were no motorized vehicles, the locals all rode around on bicycles, the tourists went around on foot, the streets were 90% sand and so narrow with buildings going up several stories on each side that it was impossible to gain any sort of reference point. The guy pushing our bags around finally stopped at the foot of a staircase nestled in between two of the buildings and we started to climb. Luckily both places we have lived in on Koh Tao were equipped with serious stair cases so we were well prepared for this climb leading us halfway up the mountain. When we finally made it to the lobby, the view was well worth every drop of sweat it had taken to get there.


The place we had booked was a cheap place I had found on hostelworld.com. It wasn't a traditional hostel as it had private rooms, so we figured we could easily fit six people into two rooms as we had in Krabi, only upon arriving, the receptionist insisted that we pay for two extra beds. Apparently she still ran the place like a hostel despite the private rooms.

Once settled in we sat down to decide what to do with the rest of the day and took a look at the flyers that had been shoved into our hands at the pier. "Captain Bob's Booze Cruise" they read, accompanied by a very large assortment of activities, all of which sounded like things we would pick out to go do on their own. It sounded like a pretty fun filled day, so we ran to catch the 1:00 departure which was only half an hour away. Fletch and I went first to buy tickets since the others needed a couple minutes to get ready, only once down the endless staircase, we had no idea which way to go on the narrow streets. We chose right and ended up getting terribly lost.

After way too many minutes of running around in circles and ending up on the wrong side of the island, we got a call from Eric and everyone else who were already waiting for us at Captain Bob's. Finally we found our way back to the pier where we were just in time to buy tickets.

Captain Bob had a 9-meter long sailboat and two speed boats, all of which seemed completely full. We were assigned the first speed boat and loaded on to meet a very friendly group of people, all around our age. Our first stop was a beach a little ways away from the pier called Monkey Beach. It was literally just a little beach at the base of a cliff inhabited entirely by Long-Tailed Macaque Monkeys. We jumped off of the boat into the water and waded onto the shore of the little beach where dozens of monkeys politely waited for the fruit they knew was coming. Finally one of our boat guides handed out fruit to everyone which we in turn handed to the monkeys. They were fun to play with. The ones sitting up in the trees would even catch their fruit midair as it was thrown their way.


This greedy little fellow insisted on double fisting.

After saying goodbye to the monkeys, our next stop was a spot to go cliff jumping. The three boats moored up at the base of a large cliff which had a rope leading up one side and three different points at varying heights to jump off of. Since the rocks were mostly volcanic and very sharp, our boat guide passed out Crocs for everyone to wear to climb up the cliff. I chilled in the bay for a while, enjoying watching how long everyone would hesitate before finally jumping. Once the line had shortened considerably, I finally made my way up the cliff and over to the lowest jumping point which was 8 meters high. I watched as one of the guides coaxed the girls in front of me where to step and then counted down for them to jump, only the girl in front of me refused to jump for a good five minutes at least. By the time my turn was finally up the guide showing everyone what to do was called back down to the bottom and jumped ahead of me. I was left to jump on my own. Fletch was waiting at the bottom and immediately counted down for me only I needed a minute to prepare myself. I shouted down at him to count again and finally made the jump. I felt my stomach drop. And then somehow landed painfully on my ass.


As we boarded back onto the boats an unlimited supply of alcohol was finally served. I suppose it was smart of them to wait until after the cliff jumping excursion.

Our next stop was Viking Cave on Koh Phi Phi Leh, the second largest of the Phi Phi islands. We weren't actually allowed to stop there, but we slowed down enough to peer inside whilst listening to a fascinating history lesson. Viking Cave is so named because of the prehistoric cave drawings found inside that resemble viking ships.  It is believed that these drawings were made by pirates or gypsies who stopped to find shelter from monsoons. The cave is now protected by the Thai military because of the valuable goods inside. What these valuable goods are might surprise you: birds nests. Viking Cave is home to thousands of swiftlets, a bird that makes its nest out of its own saliva. This saliva is then used to make bird's nest soup which is a delicacy in China. It is one of the most expensive animal products you can buy; a kilogram of nest can cost up to $10,000 US.


After leaving the caves we made our way to Loh Samah Bay. We sailed our way along a narrow passage lined on each side with massive limestone walls, until we emerged into a lagoon. This lagoon was a massive pool of turquoise water, completely surrounded by limestone walls. I've seen some beautiful sights in this world: The Baths at Virgin Gorda, sunrise over Dominica while dolphins swam alongside our ship, Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain, Matsushima... but these cliffs enveloping such turquoise clear water seemed to rival every one of those.



We stayed for quite a while here, everyone hopped in the water with a drink and put their legs through the arm holes of life jackets for a floating seat. Fletch and I had brought snorkel gear and so dove down to see how deep the water was. It wasn't incredibly deep and several of our new friends, impressed by Fletch's breath-holding skills asked to try for themselves. Fletch gave them several tips and I let them borrow my snorkel gear and we proceeded to watch in amusement as they duck dove down for ten seconds at a time and came back up gasping for air. Everyone was greatly entertained by the duck diving though.

We had to leave the beautiful bay all too soon but the best was yet to come. The boat brought us around to another little bay where we hopped in for some snorkeling. Right away I saw a dozen different fish that we don't get over in the Gulf of Thailand. I was most excited by the sighting of this lobster.


We snorkeled our way over to a little archway in the rock which emerged into a clearing on the other side of the wall. A short hike later and I couldn't believe where we were. We were standing in the middle of the The Beach. The book by Alex Garland that inspired an entire generation of backpackers to go explore the undiscovered paradises of Thailand, and later was made into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, this is where it was filmed. This was the secret beach. Pictures don't even do justice to how incredible it was.


We played in the water and snorkeled and swam around, bursting with joy until much too soon it was time to go. So we made our way back to the boat and sailed back towards Koh Phi Phi Don, just in time to witness a spectacular sunset.


When the boats dropped us off you can imagine we were all fairly intoxicated, after six hours of unlimited alcohol. We went back to our rooms and showered, then had to drag certain people out of the rooms to go find dinner. We found a place to eat and ordered food, only not everyone was all there... Half the group went home and the rest of us attempted to go out for a night in Koh Phi Phi. One bar in though we realized we had already had more than a fulfilling day and headed home and promptly fell asleep.